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

  • 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

  • CalRecycle Director Talks Food Waste Prevention

    San Francisco hosted California’s first Global Climate Action Summit earlier this month, drawing governors, mayors, business executives, and leaders from around the world. In addition to new climate-focused pledges from governments and promises from companies, participants stood united to show how bold actions to combat climate change can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen economies, and provide models of success for others to follow.

    “A key premise of the conference was that if a handful of leading-edge states, cities and businesses can demonstrate that it’s feasible—and even lucrative—to go green in their own backyards, they might inspire others to follow suit. That, in turn, could make it easier for national leaders to act more forcefully.” —New York Times

    At an affiliate event titled “More Feast, Less Footprint: New Goals and Progress Towards Wasting Less Food,” panel discussions focused on efforts to reduce the estimated 1.4 billion tons of food wasted across the world every year. That’s roughly one-third of the global food supply.

    Left to right: Scott Smithline, CalReycle; John Dannan, Generate Capital;  Geeta Sethi, World Bank; Chris Cochran, ReFED.

    Left to right: Scott Smithline, CalReycle; John Dannan, Generate Capital;  Geeta Sethi, World Bank; Chris Cochran, ReFED.

    CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline joined representatives from ReFED, Generate Capital, and the World Bank for a discussion called “Financing the Change.” Smithline spoke about CalRecycle’s new Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program, which awarded $9.4 million to 31 projects earlier this year.

    The goals of the grant program include:

    • Decreasing the estimated 6 million tons of food waste landfilled in California each year, and
    • Increasing the state’s capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more food for the roughly 1 in 8 Californians who are food-insecure.

    When sent to landfills, food and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a heat-trapping effect at least 86 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year span.

    “Bolstering California’s food recovery infrastructure will help feed communities in need, create new jobs, and result in significant greenhouse gas reductions,” Director Smithline said when the grant awards were announced. “Our hope is that these programs will inspire similar efforts throughout California.”

    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    During the “Financing the Change” discussion, Director Smithline also spoke of the importance of food waste prevention and rescue in achieving success in SB 1383, California’s new law to combat climate change by getting organic waste out of landfills. At 23 million tons, organics is by far the largest material type landfilled in California each year. SB 1383 mandates a 50 percent reduction in organic waste disposal by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025, as well as actions to redirect 20 percent of currently disposed, edible food to Californians in need.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Sep 21, 2018

  • 2017 Another Year of Progress for CalRecycle—and California’s Sustainability Campaign

    CalRecycle oversees initiatives that have helped further California’s sustainability by diverting recyclable materials away from landfills and toward beneficial reuse. This protects human health and the environment, and conserves natural resources. Our aim is to turn the state’s waste stream into a supply stream, and in doing so integrate the “green” economy into the mainstream. In 2017, we made great progress by investing both financially and legislatively in the programs and infrastructure needed to recycle more of our waste. Here’s a look at last year’s highlights.

    $24 Million in Grants to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    CalRecycle’s effort to transform the state’s waste management paradigm got a monumental boost with the passage of Senate Bill 1383 (Lara, Chapter 355, Statutes of 2015), which establishes requirements to reduce organic waste disposal. To meet targets of 50 percent reduction by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025, California will need to invest in additional infrastructure to handle the increased volume of organics diverted from landfills, including building new facilities and stimulating new markets for recycled organic products like compost, fertilizers, and biofuels. CalRecycle estimates the state will need up to 100 new composting and in-vessel digestion facilities, at a likely capital investment of $2 billion to $3 billion.

    Part of this investment will come in the form of California Climate Investments that are appropriated through the state budget and funded by Cap-and-Trade dollars. This year, CalRecycle awarded $24 million in grants to help convert more of the state’s organic waste into renewable energy and compost.  

    $5 Million to Fight Climate Change, Feed Hungry

    As part of the state’s effort to combat climate change, divert organic materials from landfills and alleviate food insecurity in California, CalRecycle launched a new grant program with $5 million worth of funding to target food waste prevention and food rescue. (An additional $4.38 million in funding has been allocated for 2018.) These investments also come from Cap-and-Trade revenue.

    AB 1219

    California continues to push the envelope on diverting organic material from landfills, which reduces methane gas emissions that occur when such green waste decomposes in the dump. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1219, which helps clarify protections for food donors, who sometimes hesitate to donate food for fear of civil and criminal liability. Every year, more than 5.5 million tons of food are tossed into the trash, and a lot of that food is still edible, wholesome, and safe for consumption. Diverting food waste away from landfills helps protect human health by combatting food insecurity and fighting climate change.

    Fire Cleanups

    California was hit hard this year by devastating wildfires throughout the state. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) tasked CalRecycle to conduct wildfire debris removal operations in Butte, Nevada, and Yuba counties, and operations in each of these counties were completed ahead of schedule. CalRecycle established a debris removal operations center in Marysville to coordinate recovery efforts and provide a base of operations for field crews and homeowners in need of assistance.

    SB 458

    In October, Governor Brown signed into law SB 458 (Wiener, Chapter 648, Statutes of 2017), which authorizes up to five limited-term pilot projects to improve redemption opportunities in communities that don’t have nearby recycling centers.

    SB 458 allows cities or counties in rural areas or that have many grocery stores without nearby recycling centers to apply for a pilot program. If accepted, they will have increased flexibility in how recycling centers may operate. The expectation is that this increased flexibility will make it easier for entrepreneurs to run programs that provide redemption opportunities near grocery stores.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jan 25, 2018