Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Why Do We Recycle Tires?

    tire fire

    Tire fires of past decades could take months to extinguish, while emitting smoke thick containing cyanide, carbon monoxide, and other toxins.

    Until 19 years ago, countless illegally dumped tires polluted our state. Large piles of old tires sometimes even caught fire in the hot California sun. These tire fires put off toxic smoke containing cyanide and carbon monoxide. Because a fire can continue to burn deep inside a pile of tires after the top layer appears extinguished, firefighters struggled to put out these smoldering blazes that emitted thick, black plumes of toxic smoke that sometimes burned for months.

    California turned to recycling to solve the problem of tires:

    1. Catching fire
    2. Clogging waterways
    3. Filling with water that bred disease-causing mosquitoes

    tire pile

    Where can we put 51 million tires a year?

    California’s 35 million registered vehicles generate 51 million used tires every year. To manage this constant flow of vulcanized rubber into the waste stream, California passed the Tire Recycling Act in 1989, which created the Tire Recycling Program. After a series of devastating illegal tire pile fires in 1998 and 1999, the law was strengthened in 2000.

    To prevent illegal stockpiles of tires, the state has:

    1. Permitted tire storage facilities
    2. Enforced used tire storage and management laws
    3. Developed recycled tire product options

    To find new uses for more than 82 percent of 51 million worn-out tires a year, CalRecycle constantly innovates and evaluates safety studies. The department awards grants and loans to businesses and public entities to expand the safest markets for waste tires.

    tire cover on playground

    Different styles of playground cover are a common use of recycled tires.

    Across California, companies are producing tire-derived products made from recycled tires, including:

    • Playground surfaces
    • Roofing
    • Flooring, including rubber mats for gyms
    • Path cover
    • Roads
    • Accessibility ramps

    cars driving on golden gate bridge

    Where the rubber becomes the road

    For more than 30 years, ground-up, recycled tires mixed with asphalt have produced cost-effective, durable, and environmentally friendly binder in concrete road cover.  Overall, about 2.7 million tires have gone to paving California’s roads.

    Tire rubber makes up only about 1 percent of rubberized asphalt concrete. The asphalt binder absorbs the rubber into it, reducing its ability to break away as a microparticle. These streets last about 50 percent longer than roads made from asphalt alone.

    tire project

     Many local governments have used tire-derived aggregate in place of conventional construction material for civil engineering projects to:

    • Backfill retaining walls
    • Stabilize hills to keep them from slipping into landslides
    • Absorb vibrations 
    • Fill in land for other reasons

    This tire material helps solve a variety of civil engineering challenges because it drains better and costs less than other lightweight, mixed material building aggregate.

    “Tire-derived aggregate requires minimum processing and reduces the need for mining (like other lightweight fills) in facilities that generate greenhouse gases,” said William Heung, CalRecycle Senior Waste Management Engineer for the Materials Management and Local Assistance Division.

    Tires saved millions on California transportation

    Local governments used this tire material to expand rail systems for both the Bay Area Rapid Transportation (BART) and the Metropolitan Transportation Agency in Southern California. The cushioning rubber from tires absorbs vibrations underneath the tracks.

    Along with keeping about 500,000 tires from going into landfills, these two projects saved BART and MTA millions of dollars.

    tire project aerial shot

    Tire material stabilizes a retaining wall on a hill that prevents mudslides in Santa Barbara. 

    A recent innovative road project in Santa Barbara used tire material to stabilize a retaining wall located on a hill. Because the tire material won’t degrade even when wet, engineers expect it to support the retaining wall more effectively and help prevent mudslides that can happen when water washes away soil on a hill. (View video.)

    Keeping tires from trashing California

    California’s population will continue to grow, so our efforts to expand tire recycling must keep pace.

    Over the last few years, through its grants and loans, CalRecycle has funded rubberized road concrete and other tire material projects to prevent millions of waste tires from ending up illegally dumped or in landfills.

    CalRecycle explores potential tire products as we work to reach the state's zero waste goals while preventing tire fires that pollute our air with poisonous smoke. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Feb 18, 2020

  • Be the Change: Tina's Story

     

    CalRecycle's Tina Chambers is an Executive Assistant and combines her passion for the environment with her communication skills to protect California's public health. Check out this video for a glimpse into her job and what she enjoys about working at CalRecycle.

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Feb 3, 2020

  • Eco Holiday Habits to Get on Santa's Nice List

    During the holidays many of us gather to share special meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy ourselves. As you prepare to host gatherings for your loved ones, consider how your celebrations create waste that contributes to climate change and adds to the growing amount of plastic in landfills. Are you being naughty or nice to the planet?

    Here are three ways to get on the planet’s Nice List this holiday season

    Naughty food waste; nice compost

    Naughty: Throwing Food in the Trash
    Nice: Lowering Food Waste with Meal Plans and Composting

    Meal Plan for Zero Food Waste

    Many of us consider lavish spreads of favorite holiday dishes the hallmark of a caring host. But excess food gives off high amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane once it’s dumped in a landfill. This is a major cause of climate change.

    Rethink your hosting ideals, brand your gathering eco-friendly, then don’t overbuy or overcook.

    Use the food GUEST-IMATOR tool to plan how much to prepare. If there are leftovers you know you won’t finish, send food home with your guests in reusable containers.

    Clean your plate or compost the rest.

    Try composting your food waste. If your curbside organics collection doesn’t accept food, ask local community gardens if you can contribute to their compost bin.

    Consider setting up your own home compost. It can help grow healthier, heartier plants. Winter is the ideal time to start compost that will be ready to add to your garden in the spring.

    Easy tips for starting to compost

    naughty: single use disposable plastic. Nice: reusable dishes.

    Naughty: Single-Use Plastic
    Nice: Reusable Dishes and Utensils

    “Disposable” Plastic Lasts Forever

    Many hosts choose the ease of disposable plates, cutlery, and cups for holiday gatherings. But that plastic your guests use for just a few minutes will never biodegrade. It stays on the planet, slowly breaking down into toxic microplastics.

    About 10 percent of all trash is plastic. Forty million Californians create more than 3.2 million tons of plastic waste every year.

    Reusable plates and cutlery give the gift of a cleaner planet. Less trash in landfills is worth a few extra minutes of cleanup.

    Naughty: dirty recyclables; nice: clean recyclables

    Naughty: Dirty Recyclables
    Nice: Clean Recyclables 

    Rinse Containers Before Recycling

    Recyclables tainted with food or water can leak onto surrounding paper and cardboard, and create a contaminated, unrecyclable mess. In 2018 China stopped accepting certain US mixed recyclable shipments because many arrived full of mold and had to be thrown away in landfills.

    Clean your containers to keep recycling from becoming garbage. 

    Not sure about that greasy pizza box? Tear off the oily parts and toss those in the trash. The remaining clean cardboard can go in your blue bin.

    Check out this quick video on recycling contamination.

    With a few small changes, you can make a difference for the planet even as you enjoy this festive season. Get more eco-friendly holiday hints to use this year.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 23, 2019