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

  • What Is Recyclable?

    Wait, aren’t all products with the recycling chasing arrows symbol recyclable? Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. First, there is currently no universal definition for recyclable. Second, individual materials in a product may be recyclable, but they may be fused together in such a way that it’s difficult to separate them into individual recyclable materials. Plastic-coated coffee cups, electronics, and padded envelopes are good examples of this. Third, even though a product may technically be recyclable, there must be a market for that material. In other words, a product’s recyclability has as much to do with the economy as the technology of recycling. Let’s break down the recycling economy for insight. 

    Collection

    The first step in the recycling process is to collect the material. Californians can sort their recyclables into a curbside recycling bin, or they may opt to take some materials to a recycling center. Dirty or broken material may not be eligible to be processed into feedstock, so be sure to add only clean items to your recycling bin. And check with your local hauler to see what materials they are collecting to recycle before putting items in your curbside recycling bin. 

    Sorting and Processing into Feedstock for Manufacturers

    Next, a recycling center sells the material to a recycling processor who transforms the material into feedstock for a new product. In the case of plastic water bottles, the plastic is shredded into plastic flakes. 

    California has historically relied on a “collect, sort, export” model of recycling. Fluctuations in the global commodities market often impact California’s ability to export these materials for recycling. Despite these fluctuations, California exported more recyclables last year than in previous years. Even so, it’s pretty clear that California must continue investing in a robust domestic recycling infrastructure so we are not so reliant on foreign markets to process recyclables and remanufacture products.

    Recycling Feedstock into New Products

    Recycling processors then sell feedstock to manufacturers who use the material to manufacture new products. These products are called “recycled-content products.” It is difficult for recycled feedstock to compete in the marketplace if the price of virgin materials is cheaper. Although low oil prices mean low gas prices, they also mean it’s cheaper to make a plastic bottle from virgin materials than recycled plastic water bottle flakes. 

    CalRecycle is about to start developing regulations for SB 1335 (Allen, Chapter 610, Statutes of 2018), which requires food service facilities located in state-owned buildings to use reusable, recyclable, or compostable food service packaging. Laws like SB 1335 will not only help define what is actually recyclable, but will also create a market demand for reusable, recyclable, and compostable products.

    Marketing and Selling Recycled Content Products

    In the final step of the recycling economy, manufacturers sell recycled-content products to distributors and retailers who then sell these products to the public. One of the ways CalRecycle helps this effort is by overseeing the state’s Buy-Recycled Campaign, which requires all state agencies to purchased recycled-content products. In addition to creating a market demand for recycled-content products, the program also creates new jobs; reduces waste, pollution, and energy consumption; and diverts waste from landfills.

    Ways to Support the Recycling Economy

    • All Californians can support the recycling economy in a few simple ways. 
    • Consider ways to reduce the amount of trash you throw away every week. Can you make changes in how you shop or consume goods that would reduce your personal waste? That may look like using a reusable coffee cup or opting for products with less packaging.
    • Check with your waste hauler to learn about what recyclable materials are allowed in your recycling bin.  Haulers will let you know what they are collecting that can be sold to recycling processors.
    • Add clean recyclables to your curbside bin to reduce contamination. Rinsing out spaghetti sauce and peanut butter jars before adding them to the recycling bin can go a long way in reducing contamination.
    • Buy recycled-content products. Look for products that use recycled-content in them. CalRecycle’s website has a search tool to look for recycled-content manufacturers. 


     
    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 10, 2019

  • CalRecycle Awards $439,636 to Yuba County for Tire-Derived Aggregate Road Repair Project

     

    Back-hoe filling erosion with tire-derived aggregate.

    Yuba County is home to the latest construction project to use recycled waste tires to patch up damaged roadways. Last month, 430,000 tires were utilized as filling material to repair multiple roads destroyed by recent landslides.  

    CalRecycle awarded the county $439,636 as part of the Tire-Derived Aggregate Grant Program, which funded both the purchase of the recycled tire material and the repair work.  

    Tire-Derived Aggregate (TDA) is made from shredded scrap tires and is used in a wide range of construction projects. These uses include retaining wall backfill, lightweight embankment fill, landslide stabilization, vibration mitigation, and various landfill applications.

    The material is lightweight and cost-effective, and it drains well in wet conditions. 

    As an added bonus, recycling tires diverts them from landfills and illegal dumpsites. Currently, California generates more than 40 million waste tires per year. 

    Take a look at this video to see the recent Yuba County TDA project in action.  

    Watch the youtube video for more.

     


    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Oct 7, 2019

  • New Pharmaceutical and Home-Generated Sharps Waste Rulemaking to Begin this Fall

    picture of needles and medications being properly disposed in containers.

    Every year, Californians use hundreds of millions of medical sharps such as syringes and lancets, and they obtain hundreds of millions of medical prescriptions. Improperly disposed medications can threaten the environment, wildlife, waste handlers, and the public through water contamination, inadvertent needle sticks, and drug abuse. State  lawmakers have offered a solution by passing Senate Bill 212 (Jackson, Chapter 1004, Statutes of 2018), the Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Act. 

     Under SB 212, sharps and pharmaceutical waste will be regulated through a product stewardship program under which producers bear the physical and financial responsibility for proper end-of-life management of these products. The law requires the creation of a mail-back program for needles and the establishment of convenient collection receptacles for covered drugs. Covered drugs include brand name or generic drugs that are sold, offered for sale, or dispensed in California in any form, including prescription and nonprescription drugs approved by the FDA.

     This fall, CalRecycle will begin the formal rulemaking process for the new law, which involves developing regulations for the safe and convenient collection and disposal options for home-generated pharmaceutical drugs and sharps. The department will set public comment periods and schedule public hearings for stakeholder input as part of the rulemaking process.

     CalRecycle’s regulations must be in place by Jan. 1, 2021, and consumers can expect to see take-back programs in place in late 2022 or early 2023. Producers have until July 2021 to submit stewardship plans, first to the Board of Pharmacy and then to CalRecycle, that describe how their programs will work and meet the requirements of the law. The length of the approval process will depend on whether the submitted plans sufficiently meet all statutory and regulatory requirements. 

     Current state law (H&SC §118286) makes it illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps waste (hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications) in the trash or recycling containers, and requires that all sharps waste be transported to a collection center in a sharps container approved by the local enforcement agency. However, medical waste is still improperly disposed throughout the state. SB 212 aims to make proper disposal more convenient for Californians.

     Stay informed by visiting CalRecycle’s SB 212 rulemaking webpage and subscribing to CalRecycle’s Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Listserv.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 3, 2019