Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
If you’ve ever wondered how CalRecycle measures and calculates recycling in the state, this is the article for you.
CalRecycle employs several methods to count disposal and recycling rates for various material types. To determine a true recycling rate, you need to have a numerator (what is recycled) and a denominator (what is generated). Material types with a short life span, like single-use beverage containers, are tracked more easily than other materials that have a longer life, such as TVs and computer monitors.
For the California Beverage Container Recycling Program, we calculate the recycling rate by counting the number of containers redeemed and dividing it by the number of containers sold within a year. This information is calculated and reported every six months. In 2017, the overall recycling rate for CRV materials was 75 percent. You can read about individual material types and their recycling rates on this fact sheet as well.
For some material types, like electronics, it is harder to calculate an accurate recycling rate for two reasons. First, given the typical lifespan of a TV, determining an accurate time frame within which to measure is difficult. Additionally, California’s Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Program does not cover all electronics, just those with a video display screens larger than four inches diagonal. While the Covered Electronic Waste program does track payment claims to recyclers for some materials, California does not track sales for all electronics or the total generation of e-waste, thus making it difficult to quantify an electronics recycling rate. CalRecycle addresses the limitations of the current CEW program and tracking in a policy paper titled Future of Electronic Waste Management in California.
Some products are managed by an extended producer responsibility program, also known as product stewardship, like mattresses, carpet, and paint. Soon pharmaceutical drugs and sharps (like needles) will also be managed by a stewardship program. Each of these programs are established by law and each program has different goals and metrics that measure the product stewardship program’s success. To learn more, visit our webpage on extended producer responsibility.
For a big-picture look at recycling in California, the 2017 State of Disposal and Recycling report offers details on the overall recycling rate, which is calculated by subtracting the amount of overall landfill disposal from the amount of waste generated in the state. In 2017, overall disposal increased for the fifth year in a row to 44.4 million tons. By subtracting overall disposal from the 77.2 million tons of generation, CalRecycle estimates that Californians recycled, composted, and source-reduced almost 32.8 million tons. This corresponds to a recycling rate of 42 percent, which has continued to decline since the peak of 50 percent in 2014.
The 2014 Disposal-Facility-Based Characterization of Solid Waste in California report offers a much more detailed analysis of the composition of California’s disposed waste stream. Although it isn’t a calculation of what is recycled, it does highlight what is still available to be recycled. Figure 5 on page 30 illustrates the overall waste stream composition. By far, California’s largest waste stream is organic material. Food waste alone is the single largest stream at 16 percent (see the Key Findings section on page 9). California is tackling organics recycling and edible food recovery with Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling and statewide residential and commercial organics diversion and recycling (which goes into effect in 2022).
AB 901 (Gordon, Chapter 746, statutes of 2015) changes how organics, recyclable material, and solid waste are reported to CalRecycle. This new reporting system will provide CalRecycle with much more information about materials being recycled. Disposal, recycling, and compost facilities, as well as exporters, brokers, and transporters of recyclables or compost, will be required to submit information directly to CalRecycle on the types, quantities, and destinations of materials that are disposed of, sold, or transferred inside or outside of the state.
The data acquired by the new AB 901 regulations will inform CalRecycle’s understanding of material flows within the state’s recycling infrastructure; allow CalRecycle to better estimate total recycling and composting; and assist CalRecycle to track progress toward several state goals and programs, including the 75 percent recycling goal, mandatory commercial recycling, and organics diversion programs.Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Apr 29, 2019
A Brief Overview of Waste Collection and Recycling in California
When it comes to waste and recycling, California has a jurisdiction/state system similar to our nation’s state/federal system. This system allows local communities to customize their waste management programs while complying with state laws. CalRecycle does not own or operate any waste management or recycling facilities or hauler services in the state. As a result, there is no standardized universal waste management system throughout the state. Instead, the department provides oversight to local governments and businesses to ensure they comply with state laws and work to meet statewide recycling goals and mandates.
Most jurisdictions contract with private waste hauler businesses to collect waste from residents and businesses. A hauler provides residents and businesses with collection containers (often called bins or dumpsters) and collection service. These contract agreements are strictly between the jurisdiction and the hauler, and are not subject to CalRecycle oversight.
CalRecycle, in partnership with local enforcement agencies (LEA), regulates the operation of solid waste handling, processing, and disposal activities to protect the public health and safety and the environment as well as ensure a level playing field for solid waste businesses. CalRecycle certifies LEAs to ensure the facilities/operations within their jurisdiction operate according to state minimum standards and permit conditions. Although each LEA is responsible for its jurisdiction, CalRecycle provides training, guidance and oversight to ensure LEAs consistently and equitably enforce state laws to ensure facilities are operating effectively.
CalRecycle activities include certifying and evaluating local enforcement agency programs; reviewing/concurring on permit and closure/post closure documents; inspecting all facilities before permits are issued; and inspecting active and closed landfills and other facilities in coordination with the LEA.
Although California does not own any haulers, waste facilities, or recycling centers, CalRecycle does manage and mitigate the impacts of solid waste by ensuring local compliance with regulations and state minimum standards through integrated and consistent permitting, inspection, and enforcement efforts.
To learn more about local opportunities to recycle, check out our Recycle webpage.Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Apr 11, 2019
CalRecycle publishes more than a dozen reports every year in its publications database to provide updates on the status of our programs and detail how much our state is recycling and landfilling. If reading an entire report seems daunting, check out the executive summary, which provides the big-picture context, key statistics, and basic conclusions. Here’s a quick list of CalRecycle’s most-read reports.
The 2017 report outlines the primary laws that govern waste management and recycling and evaluates the state’s progress in meeting statewide waste diversion goals. This report also outlines new tools and approaches to increase recycling in the state, like improving the quality and marketability of recyclable materials that continue to be generated. Fun fact from this report: In 2017, California generated 77.2 million tons of waste and recycled 42 percent of it.
California’s recycling infrastructure has heavily relied upon the export of recyclable materials from California ports, and this report outlines the materials we export and the countries that accept these materials. California recyclable materials exports have been steadily declining since 2011, dropping more than 33 percent in weight since then, which resulted in a corresponding drop in the vessel value of exports by nearly $5 billion.
This report provides a snapshot of the Beverage Container Recycling Program, including the recycling rate per material type, the total number of sales and redemptions, estimated revenues and expenditures, and the number of containers per pound by material type.
While the State of Disposal and Recycling report offers a big-picture look at how much waste is generated in California, this report reflects the results of an in-the-field study that examined the composition of our waste. With up-to-date information on the types and amounts of materials disposed in the state’s waste stream, CalRecycle can better determine where changes are needed to achieve California’s 75 percent recycling goal. CalRecycle is currently conducting another waste characterization study that will likely be published in late 2019.
Curious about the success of the statewide plastic bag ban? This report provides an update to the California Legislature about how the plastic bag ban has decreased usage of single-use plastic bags and positively affected the waste stream.
Although not technically a report, this policy recommendation paper is an interesting read. It details how California’s current program needs to be expanded to include all the new types of electronics in the marketplace.
Curious about how the new organics law will affect California? This report details impacts on residents, businesses, and local governments, including benefits (like jobs created), direct costs (like rate increases), and an analysis of alternatives considered (like eliminating enforcement mechanism).Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Apr 4, 2019