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

  • Why do we reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim, repurpose, reinvent, and reimagine?

    Winston Churchill

    Because continuous effort is the key to protecting our planet.

    Posted on In the Loop on May 3, 2018

  • 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

  • U.S. Climate Alliance Provides Climate Leadership

    On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the United Nations Paris Climate Accord, signifying a dramatic change in the nation’s approach to climate change and its effects on our natural resources, infrastructure, and public health. On the same day, California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee formed the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of states to address the existential threat of climate change. California and 14 other states have pledged to meet our share of the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets and reduce GHG emissions by at least 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. 

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    California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Washington Governor Jay Inslee.  Photo by Nature Conservancy. 

    The Paris Agreement

    On December 12, 2015, 196 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, a legally binding framework for an internationally coordinated effort to tackle climate change. The agreement establishes a goal to reduce global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial averages. The goal is to balance GHG emissions with sequestration efforts resulting in a net reduction in emissions. Each participating nation submitted its own plan to help meet the agreement’s goals, to be reviewed and adjusted every five years as progress is made. The Paris Agreement emphasizes global progress and recognizes that each country has a unique starting point in its aim to combat climate change. Developed countries will lead the way and support developing countries in the effort. 

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    Photo Credit 2 Executive Magazine 

     

    The U.S. Climate Alliance

    California and other member states in the U.S. Climate Alliance are implementing policies to reduce carbon pollution and other GHGs, promote clean energy deployment, and track and report progress to the global community. In doing so, these states are growing clean energy economies, creating new jobs, protecting human health, and investing in resilient communities. 

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    California Leading the Way

    Governor Jerry Brown identified six climate strategy pillars spanning every sector of the economy from transportation to power to energy to land management. A few of the actions underway:

    • California’s goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025 will significantly reduce pollution and GHGs.
    • The state is working to decarbonize its electricity sector and reach a target of 50 percent renewable energy. Energy usage goals for new residential construction (zero net energy by 2020) and commercial construction (zero net by 2030) are in place.
    • Innovative farm and ranch management practices are being promoted to build adequate organic matter in soil, increase carbon sequestration, and reduce overall GHGs.

    California has several funding mechanisms to support strategies and technologies that drive emissions reductions. Known collectively as California Climate Investments and funded through a cap-and-trade program, the state has the only multi-sector GHG emissions trading system in the United States. California Climate Investments stimulates public and private sector investment in cleaner, more efficient technologies and industrial operations. Sixty percent of proceeds are allocated to public transit, affordable housing, sustainable communities, and high-speed rail.

    CalRecycle’s own GHG reduction grant programs are funded by California Climate Investments, focusing on recycling of organics and other discards. Primary emphasis is on expanding infrastructure and local programs to divert organics from landfills, where such materials emit methane, a super-pollutant with a climate change impact 70 times greater than carbon dioxide. At a cost of about $4 per ton of GHG reductions, organics and other recycling is the most cost-effective among the state’s climate strategies.

    By committing to ambitious efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, California and its partner states in the U.S. Climate Alliance are determined to reverse the effects of climate change. Learn at the U.S. Climate Alliance website, including California’s specific plan to meet the Paris Agreement targets. 

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    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 9, 2017