Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
At CalRecycle we work hard and we play hard. Well, maybe not “hard,” but we do know how to have a good time on occasion. But, unlike most workplaces, we dedicate ourselves to making less waste when we celebrate. In fact, we have a Zero Waste team that ensures any and all CalRecycle get-togethers are set up for less-waste success. One method we use is to encourage CalRecyclers to bring their own reusable cups, plates, utensils, and cloth napkins. We also offer reusable “mess kits” for those times when life gets in the way and we forget to bring our own.
Since summer is ramping up and we know lots of workplaces will be having company picnics and potlucks, we’d love to share how we handle our mess kit “rental” system so you can join us in the fight against waste.
- Before any shindig, encourage everyone to BYO mess kits, which should include reusables like cups, cloth napkins, utensils, plates, and bowls.
- Assess how many kits you need. This involves taking a simple head count to find out how many employees you have. It doesn’t hurt to have extra kits laying around just in case you have unexpected friends or family members drop in as well! In CalRecycle’s inventory, we have 100 plates, 50 sets of utensils, and 50 cups. We have approximately 700 employees total.
- Gather your kit pieces. At CalRecycle, we organized a “mug drive” and asked staff members to donate their unused cups and mugs. If your office is anything like ours, you won’t have a problem collecting those extra mugs! We also received cutlery donations and purchased some from the Goodwill. We generally encourage donations and second-hand purchases, but if you are unable to acquire your whole set, purchasing new is also an option.
- At first, each kit was rented out for a $1 fee, but we have since dropped the fee and accept donations instead. The idea is to encourage less waste, not to ding someone for forgetting or not bringing their own kits. So, a small donation is effective and can help replenish any items that go missing in the process. (You could even establish a deposit system.)
- Create a sign out system to ensure all your kits are returned and if you use a deposit system a list of checkouts can be helpful.
- Keeping your kits clean can be one of the bigger challenges. At CalRecycle, we request that everyone bring back a clean kit—if it was checked out clean, it should come back that way! However, if you have a more germ-conscious team, you may want to run the kits through a dishwasher. A full dishwasher can be more water- and energy-efficient than washing by hand. And who wants dishpan hands from 100 mess kits anyway?
- Store your mess kits in a clean place where they can await your next function!
Our CalRecycle mess kit system was a collaboration between our Social Committee and our Zero Waste team. Since August 2018 we, along with our sister departments at CalEPA, have avoided trashing more than 1,500 single-use foodware items by using the mess kit system. We encourage you to do the same, share what works for you, and lead by example!Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on May 20, 2019
Seriously, who knew? I’ve been saying that a lot since I arrived at CalRecycle as its new Public Information Officer. I remember thinking I had some type of understanding about this department—it’s all about recycling, right? Nope, not even close.
Here are some CalRecycle links that I think that are helpful not only for someone in my position but really for any Californian who may be concerned about our environment.
SB1383: This law establishes methane emissions reduction targets in a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) in various sectors of California's economy. This would require a 50 percent reduction in statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. So reducing food waste and composting will be huge for all Californians to understand.
Where to recycle: I know my relatives have been asking me this a lot since I got the job (like somehow I’m an overnight expert or something), so this link was great to share so I can seem somewhat competent when I talk to my family.
Glossary of waste prevention terms: What’s sustainability or worm composting? This page will help to figure what those terms mean—and possibly prepare you to be a contestant on Jeopardy. (Alex, I’ll take Xeriscaping for $400, please.)
Wildfire debris cleanup: CalRecycle has been managing the debris cleanup for the Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire, and Hill Fire. It’s just another aspect of this department that I find fascinating.
As you can tell, there’s so much to learn here, but I’m excited to be a part of this team and soak up as much information as I can in the very near future. Wish me luck.Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on May 9, 2019
On the drive from Sacramento to Lamont through the San Joaquin Valley on Highway 99, we passed rows upon rows of produce and concrete jungles amid the visible air pollution haze. Last month I traveled with Team Environmental Justice member Julia Dolloff and Maria Salinas, CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Manager to Lamont, a community just outside of Bakersfield. We were there to present to community members about CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Program, SB 1383 regulations and the estimated 50 to 100 new large-scale organic waste facilities that will be built in the state as a result, and how to participate in the formal rulemaking process. Visiting an underrepresented community always accentuates the importance of our work to protect all Californians from environmental harm.
This underlying principle is why the SB 1383 regulations have incorporated community input. For example, the draft regulations allow for the use of community composting operations in jurisdictions to help manage organic waste. In addition, when jurisdictions plan for their organic waste capacity, they must conduct community outreach for new or expanded facilities, seek feedback on benefits and impacts, and consult with community composting operations.
In light of the impact implementing SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) will have on the state, staff recently created the Environmental Justice Compost Facilities Map, which overlays existing organics recycling facilities with CalEnviroScreen 3.0, a tool that identifies communities disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution. Identifying facility locations increases transparency and empowers communities to participate in the decision-making process with full knowledge of facility permits, inspections, and enforcement actions.
Left: CalRecycle staff members, Kern County employees, and Lamont community members met to discuss environmental justice issues. Right: On CalEnviroScreen 3.0, Lamont is in the top third most burdened percentile and surrounded on all sides by the 90th percentile. Three facilities are located in the nearby vicinity.
The Lamont community meeting incorporated environmental justice community engagement best practices by holding the event in their community in the evening after typical work hours and providing interpretation services. Not everyone spoke English but with interpretive services, we were able to discuss their personal experiences with pollution, food waste, and waste collection services. For example, one community member noted that many Lamont residents speak different Spanish dialects, which makes it difficult for residents to understand even Spanish translated materials, but that graphic bin labels can transcend the language barrier.
At the meeting, Gustavo Aguirre talked about his efforts to create a community benefits agreement with the nearby Recology composting facility. The agreement commits Recology to create an odor minimization plan, implement air pollution mitigation measures, and invest yearly in community benefiting projects. At our meeting, multiple people chimed in that this approach was successful for both Recology and their community.
Staff from Kern County’s local enforcement agency and other county government officials also attended the meeting. This allowed for a dialogue between the local officials and community members. One exciting moment was when a Kern County employee talked about the Waste Hunger Not Food pilot project. The pilot project implements the food rescue element of SB 1383 regulations by distributing edible, surplus food from restaurants, schools, and markets.
This community meeting demonstrated the importance of information sharing and solution-building with all involved parties. The conversation was richer because there were representatives from the state, the county, and the community. Getting people historically and systematically disadvantaged in the room and at the table is what environmental justice seeks to accomplish.
---Ciaran Gallagher, CalRecycle Capital FellowPosted on In the Loop by Ciaran Gallagher, CalRecycle Capital Fellow on May 6, 2019