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

  • Spotlight: 5 Projects, Laws, and Programs to Watch in 2019

    CalRecycle has a busy year ahead as we work to protect public health and the environment. Check out these new projects, laws, and programs, and stay tuned for regular updates.

    CalRecycle’s Role in Wildfire Debris Cleanup and Recovery

    California suffered several significant wildfires in 2018, and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services tasked CalRecycle with overseeing the cleanup at the Woolsey and Hill fires in LA and Ventura counties and the Camp Fire in Paradise (Butte County). Read about the cleanup process at our Wildfire Debris Cleanup and Recovery webpage, and check our dashboard maps (Woolsey-Hill fires map and Camp Fire map) for the latest updates.

    New Recycling and Disposal Facility Reporting

    Former Governor Edmund G. Brown signed AB 901 (Gordon, Chapter 746, Statutes of 2015) into law to change how the management of organics, recyclable material, and solid waste are reported to CalRecycle. While the statewide waste characterization reports help CalRecycle better understand the composition of our waste streams, these new reports will help CalRecycle better track and analyze the flow of materials throughout California. CalRecycle will transition away from the current Disposal Reporting System (DRS) to the new Recycling and Disposal Reporting System (RDRS). The registration period for entities required to report via RDRS begins April 1. CalRecycle is scheduled to host workshops on March 20 and 21 to help reporting entities understand their obligations under the new system. See the Recycling and Disposal Facility Reporting AB 901 webpage.

    Statewide Expansion of Organics Recycling

    SB 1383 builds upon California’s leading commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution by reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills. The regulations will go into effect in 2022, and the formal rulemaking process is underway. Check out the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP): Organic Waste Methane Emissions Reductions webpage to learn more about the intent of the law. Check out our SLCP rulemaking webpage for more information.

    Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship

    Unwanted and improperly managed pharmaceutical drugs and needles (often called “sharps”) present significant public health, safety, and environmental problems at the end of their useful lives. In 2018, Brown signed SB 212 (Jackson, Chapter 1004, Statutes of 2018) into law to establish safe and convenient disposal options for pharmaceutical drugs and home-generated sharps waste. CalRecycle started the informal regulatory process in January 2019. Read more at the Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship webpage.

    Sustainable Packaging for the State of California

    Brown also signed into law SB 1335 (Allen, Chapter 610, Statues of 2018) , which prohibits food service facilities located in a state-owned facility, operating on or acting as a concessionaire on state-owned property, or under contract to provide food service to a state agency from dispensing prepared food using food service packaging unless it is either recyclable, reusable, or compostable. The first step to implementing this law is clarifying what is reusable, recyclable, or compostable through the regulation process. Read about the law on the Sustainable Packaging for the State of California webpage. The first informal rulemaking workshop is April 10.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Mar 21, 2019

  • California Executive Fellow Ciaran Gallagher Assists with New Organics Recycling Law at CalRecycle

    I am one of the 18 Executive Fellows serving in the Executive Branch across Sacramento through the Capital Fellows Program, a 10-month public policy fellowship. The capital fellowship aims to foster the next generation of California public sector leaders. My peers and I learn the ropes of state government by conducting bill analyses, facilitating stakeholder conversations, and writing regulatory language.

    Ciaran Gallagher

    I am the fifth fellow in as many years to be placed at CalRecycle under the mentorship of Chief Deputy Director Ken DaRosa. He has given me the flexibility to work on projects that align with my interest in waste and climate policy intersections. My main projects are around the SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) formal rulemaking process, which will further statewide organic waste collection and processing and the recovery of edible food. These regulations will decrease methane emissions, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and divert edible food for the 5.4 million food-insecure Californians. SB 1383 will fundamentally shift the landscape of waste in California, and I am amazed that I am part of this momentous effort.

    Given my academic background in environmental chemistry and work experience in local governments, CalRecycle has been an ideal placement for me to develop state government skills and be involved in environmental policy. It has also felt like coming back to my roots since my undergraduate research focused on urban farming and gleaning in the context of food security.

    When I applied to this fellowship, I was already committed to a career in the public sector. These past six months have only cemented this decision. Daily I am motivated by my coworkers and peer fellows who are dedicated to improving the lives of all Californians.

    At the first CalRecycle monthly public meeting I attended, multiple people enthusiastically complimented the department’s transparent, thorough, and engaging regulatory process. Although the commenters didn’t necessarily agree with CalRecycle’s ultimate decision in the regulatory language, they praised the process that included lengthy conversation with various stakeholders. I am honored to work for a government department that values this engagement and upholds its work values through every step of the regulatory process.

    This year's Executive Fellows

    California's 18 Capital Fellows. CalRecycle's fellow, Ciaran Gallagher, is the second from the left in the top row.

    Posted on In the Loop by Ciaran Gallagher on Mar 1, 2019

  • California Launches its Organics Revolution

    Creative solutions key to success for state’s landmark new climate law 

    CalRecycle has long had a cooperative relationship with BioCycle, which focuses on organics recycling and publishes a magazine, hosts a website, and sponsors industry conferences. This year’s BioCycle West Coast 18 Conference was held last week, and CalRecycle Chief Deputy Director Ken DaRosa was the keynote speaker. CalRecycle provided the lead article for the magazine edition that focuses on the conference. The following is an abridged version of the full article. 


    The effects of global climate change are now upon us. It’s threatening lives, impacting our economy, and jeopardizing future generations. The question is now, what are we doing about it?

    In California, slowing and eventually reversing the effects of climate change demands a collaborative effort to transform the state’s waste and recycling sector. It demands nothing short of an organics revolution.

    Fortunately, that revolution is underway.

    In 2016, Governor Edmund G. Brown signed legislation (Senate Bill 1383, Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) that targets reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane. The law directs CalRecycle to adopt regulations and requirements to achieve a 50 percent reduction in organic waste disposal by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. The law further requires that 20 percent of the amount of edible food currently disposed be recovered for human consumption by 2025. By calling for a significant reduction in the current levels of organics disposal, this law signals a definitive shift in California’s approach to organic waste management.

    The Scope

    Right now, California recycles roughly 10 million tons of organic waste each year through composting, chip and grind, biomass energy, and anaerobic digestion facilities. California’s existing organics recycling infrastructure consists of 179 composting facilities (of which 50 handle nearly all of the green waste and food waste sent to composting), 162 chip-and-grind operations, approximately 20 biomass conversion facilities, and 15 anaerobic digestion facilities. At full capacity, these facilities could process perhaps an additional 1 million tons of organic material per year.

    To achieve the targets outlined in SB 1383, California must recycle at least 20 million tons of organic waste. Depending on facility size, CalRecycle estimates the state will need 50 to 100 new or expanded composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. The roughly $2 billion capital infrastructure investment required to meet SB 1383 goals is significant, but California is uniquely positioned to meet this challenge. Our businesses innovate, our industries adapt, and our local communities find solutions.

    Community Support, Local Siting, and Permitting

    It’s important to remember compost operations and anaerobic digestion facilities are located in real communities, where people live. While smart regulations will be instrumental to achieving California’s organic waste and methane emissions reduction targets, the success of SB 1383 also hinges on support from our local communities. There’s no question these organics recycling infrastructure projects help diversify our local economies and create durable green jobs that can’t be outsourced.

    At the same time, communities have legitimate concerns about having such facilities as neighbors, among them increased traffic and road wear and potential odor issues. To that end, SB 1383 regulations must require that cities, counties, project proponents, and local enforcement agencies conduct community outreach when new projects are proposed, particularly in disadvantaged communities, to hear local concerns and discuss mitigation of potentially negative effects.

    Food Waste Prevention and Food Rescue

    Achieving the edible food waste reduction targets outlined in SB 1383 will not only help reduce methane emissions from organic waste disposal, but food rescue has the added benefit of feeding Californians in need. Food waste alone accounts for roughly 18 percent of total landfill disposal (5 to 6 million tons) each year.

    CalRecycle must work with local leaders and organizations to identify points in the food distribution chain where edible food is disposed and figure out ways to recover that food for the roughly 1 in 8 Californians who are food insecure.

    In 2018, CalRecycle awarded $9.4 million in Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grants to 31 projects throughout the state that:

    • Decrease the estimated 6 million tons of food waste landfilled in California each year, and
    • Increase the state’s capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more food to Californians in need.

    Looking Forward

    The organic waste reduction and edible food recovery targets California has established in SB 1383 are bold and historic next steps. Like most achievements, we know progress in this effort must be built locally and from the ground up. Through a shared commitment from the public, the waste and recycling industry, local governments, and the state, we can show the world—once again—how California’s core values of environmental protection, public health and safety, and economic vitality can not only coexist, but collectively bolster California’s next revolution in sustainable waste management.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Apr 2, 2018