Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
Following a nationwide E. coli outbreak, recalled lettuce grown throughout the Salinas Valley is making its way back into the ground as compost, thanks to a California Climate Investment from CalRecycle. A new composting facility in Salinas has already started accepting more than 50 tons of the of the potentially tainted produce, according to the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority (Salinas Authority).
“It’s stretching our daily processing capacity,” Salinas Authority General Manager Patrick Mathews told United Press International. “It’s coming in by the truckloads.”
E. coli Outbreak Linked to Lettuce
In November, the Centers for Disease Control warned consumers not to eat romaine lettuce grown in California’s Salinas Valley after an E. coli outbreak sickened nearly 70 people in 19 states. The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and health authorities from various states continue to investigate the exact source of the strain while encouraging residents, restaurants, retailers, suppliers, and distributors to remove the product from their refrigerators, shelves, and distribution chains.
When sent to landfills, lettuce and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a short-lived climate pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is emitted when organic material is buried and decomposes anaerobically, or without oxygen. The U.S. Composting Coalition encourages consumers and businesses to compost the recalled produce instead. The aeration of material in the composting process results in a different chemical reaction, producing far less damaging emissions.
“Industrial-scale composting … achieves the temperatures and holding times to eliminate human pathogens (like E. coli),” notes U.S. Composting Coalition Executive Director Frank Franciosi. “While you don't want to eat the romaine lettuce, there is no reason to put it in a landfill where it will generate methane, a significant greenhouse gas, and cause global climate change.”
CalRecycle’s Climate Change Funds for Composting
Reduce Greenhouse Gases in the Air
With the help of a recent $1.3 million California Climate Investment grant awarded by CalRecycle, the Salinas Authority constructed an aerated static pile compost facility at the Johnson Canyon landfill in Monterey County. Formerly, wood and green materials were chipped at a landfill and shipped as mulch or to a biofuel facility, while food was disposed of in the landfill. The Salinas Authority built its new, fully permitted composting facility this summer. In the fall it began turning green materials and food into compost. The Salinas Authority estimated it would compost 132,000 tons of food and green waste by 2026.
Compost increases soil carbon content and increases its moisture-holding capacity, enabling it to literally pull CO2 out of the air. California law mandates composting facilities process materials at temperatures high enough to kill E. coli and other pathogens.
Funding Available for Organic Waste Recycling
CalRecycle’s Organics Grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving human health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.
Learn more about CalRecycle’s funding opportunities at calrecycle.ca.gov/funding. You can also subscribe to CalRecycle’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs Listserv.Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 5, 2019
CalRecycle has grants to help clean up illegal dumping sites, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide assistance for beverage container recycling. Check out this video to see how this grant recipient is using its award to prevent food waste.Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jul 15, 2019
CalRecycle has awarded $266,795 to the Kern County Public Health Services Department to expand its Waste Hunger Not Food program, which collects unserved food from local schools and restaurants and distributes it in local neighborhoods.
The funds will be used for a refrigerated box truck and walk-in refrigeration to store food safely. The box trucks will allow Kern County to partner with food donors that donate food in large quantities. Since Waste Hunger Not Food launched in September 2018, the group has rescued more than 304,600 pounds of food.
CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program aims to reduce methane emissions by keeping edible food out of California landfills and redistributing it to the 1 in 8 Californians (including 1 in 5 children) who are food-insecure. Many of these families live in disadvantaged communities, which means they have a disproportionate exposure to pollution and less access to healthy food.
Kern County partners with City Serve, a local nonprofit that brings churches together to serve the community. Waste Hunger Not Food uses refrigerated trucks to collect food from restaurants and schools and quickly deliver it to churches that have been trained in food safety best practices.
Churches are often located within residential neighborhoods, making it easy and convenient for volunteers to distribute the food. Some church volunteers simply carry signs through the neighborhoods that say “Free Food,” and word of mouth travels quickly. City Serve churches distribute food with no restrictions on how much food people can take.
This is the second grant CalRecycle has awarded to Kern County for the Waste Hunger Not Food program. The first grant for $191,963 was awarded in fiscal year 2016-17 and enabled the county to buy several refrigerated trucks to collect and transport donated food to distribute to the needy.
The Waste Hunger Not Food mission aligns with the goals outlined in SB 1383, which requires California to reduce the disposal of organic waste (like food and yard waste) and divert at least 20 percent of edible food to food rescue organizations. Although SB 1383 regulations don’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2022, the program is giving schools and businesses a head start on compliance by donating edible food they would otherwise send to a landfill.Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jul 11, 2019