Combating Climate Change in California
California has made combatting climate change a top priority for our state, and for good reason. Our communities are already battling the negative effects of climate change that endanger public health and the environment. Fortunately, CalRecycle and other state departments are taking steps to reduce its effects.
Recycling for Climate
Recycling combats climate change in several ways. First, it reduces the need to extract raw materials to manufacture new products, which reduces energy use and the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. For example, every 10 pounds of aluminum you recycle prevents 37 pounds of carbon emissions.
SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) establishes a target to achieve a 75 percent reduction of currently landfilled organic waste by 2025 and diverting this material into recovery activities. It also requires that cities and counties provide organics recycling services to residents and businesses, implement an edible food recovery program, and purchase recycled organics products like compost and renewable natural gas. SB 1383 will also generate thousands of new, locally based recycling jobs.
Recycling organic materials like yard and food waste prevents methane gas emissions. When landfilled, organic waste decomposes and releases methane into the atmosphere. This is a big deal, because methane is a super pollutant at least 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, organic materials are easily recycled into beneficial products like compost, which enriches the nutrients and water-holding capacity of soils, and renewable natural gas, which can power vehicles without using fossil fuels.
California Climate Investments: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grants and Loans
CalRecycle established the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs to provide financial incentives for capital investments in infrastructure designed to address climate change and other environmental goals. This includes aerobic composting, anaerobic digestion, and recycling and manufacturing facilities that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One priority is to realize environmental and economic benefits in disadvantaged and low-income communities. “Putting Cap-and-Trade Dollars to Work for California” highlights past projects and benefits to local communities.
California is experiencing the effects of climate change with cycling droughts, reduced Sierra Nevada snowpack (which provides 60 percent of the state’s water), longer and more extreme fire seasons, and rising sea levels. CalRecycle is directing many efforts to reduce and reverse these dramatic changes to our climate. From regulating the management of materials to their highest and best use, to investing in the necessary infrastructure California needs to have a closed-loop recycling system, CalRecycle is making a significant difference with tangible actions to address climate change. But perhaps more than anything, we value our partnership with the people of California who play a vital role in recycling for climate by adopting the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Learn more about CalRecycle’s efforts to combat climate change at our Climate Change webpage.