Reflections on 2016
Here we are, at the start of another bright year full of hope and promise. As we look forward to an even greener future, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the great recycling accomplishments of 2016.
California Plastic Bag Ban
Californians voted to uphold the law banning single-use carryout plastic bags from grocery and other stores. And little wonder: they pollute our oceans and kill marine wildlife, compound our litter problem by as many as 20 billion plastic bags each year, and undermine sustainability by disrupting and damaging machinery designed to sort recyclables. Already, people are adjusting to shopping with reusable bags. Check out our blog on finding the perfect set of reusable shopping bags.
Organics, Organics, Organics
You might be aware that methane gas emissions are a significant cause of climate change, with about 25 times the heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide. But did you know the number one stationary cause of methane is organic material in landfills? That’s right—it happens as our food waste and yard clippings break down and decompose.
We’ve now been given a tremendous asset to help reverse this dangerous trend. Following on a law passed in 2014 to require businesses to recycle their organic waste, in 2016 Governor Brown signed legislation to reduce short-lived climate pollutants including methane. Among targets established in the new law are a 50 percent reduction in disposed organic waste by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025.
The greatest component of California’s organic waste—indeed, our number one disposed material overall—is food waste. Included in the new law is a goal to recover at least 20 percent of edible food from the waste stream by 2025. This will not only help reduce methane-generating waste, but help put more focus on how much edible food we discard—by some estimates as much as 40 percent of what we buy.
Catching Recycling Fraudsters!
Californians pay a fee when they buy bottles and cans that they can recover when they recycle the container. The California Refund Value (CRV) is 5 cents for each container under 24 ounces and 10 cents for each container 24 ounces or greater. Beverage containers from outside the state are not eligible for a refund since the purchase of those containers did not pay into the CRV fund. Recycling fraud occurs when people import bottles and cans from other states and attempt to redeem a CRV fee at a recycling center.
Several recycling fraud cases were prosecuted in 2016. The biggest case that was resolved last year involved David Scott Anderson, the former owner of Mission Fiber Group, who was sentenced to five years in state prison for his role in a complex scheme to defraud California’s Beverage Container Recycling program. CalRecycle takes recycling fraud very seriously, and we work relentlessly on such cases to protect CRV funds for California consumers.
Thanks to strong leadership at the state and local levels, a resilient environmental ethic, and the commitment of our state’s citizens, we’re forging a more sustainable California. In 2017, we look forward to making even more progress through our collective efforts.