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

  • Are Your Apartment Complex and Workplace Recycling?

    Did you know California law requires businesses, including multifamily complexes, to arrange for recycling services?

    Commonly recycled materials include cardboard, paper, plastics, and metals, and recycling programs are expanding to include organic materials such as food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper.

    You can help get a workplace, apartment building, multifamily complex, restaurant, or other business in compliance with California’s  recycling and  organics recycling requirements.

    Click on this link to submit your concerns if your apartment complex, or business near you, has not arranged for recycling services.

    CalRecycle has additional online resources where you can submit feedback and concerns about recycling programs or other environmental problems in your community.

    Click here to send complaints or concerns about the Beverage Container Recycling Program.

    Click here to report environmental concerns related to air, water, toxic substances, pesticides, or solid waste.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jun 25, 2018

  • My Environmental Justice Awakening

    How I Finally Got Woke at Work—and How You Can, Too

    Maybe you’re like me. Injustices like the bad water in Flint make your blood boil. Stories about poor communities boxed in by freeways have you suddenly mindful of every breath. You have a pretty good grasp on the concept of environmental justice, but you struggle to turn that awareness into action in your everyday work.

    I think I can help.

    Let me start by introducing you to Team EJ. I joined the volunteer group of CalRecycle staffers, supervisors, program managers, and deputy directors in November. Environmental Justice Program Manager Maria Salinas assembled the squad in hopes that members’ diverse backgrounds, strengths and perspectives would help CalRecycle better integrate environmental justice values and goals throughout the department’s divisions and programs.

    So far, the best definition I’ve heard for environmental justice came from Manuel Pastor during one of CalRecycle’s EJ training sessions. The USC professor says “EJ is rooted in the belief that all people—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or income—have the right to a clean and healthy environment.” He adds that environmental justice seeks two things:

    1. Equitable distribution of environmental burdens and benefits
    2. Fair and meaningful participation in decision-making processes

    The word equitable is key if you ask legislative analyst Julia Dolloff.

    “(It’s) about leveling the playing field when it comes to protecting the environment and protecting public health,” she says. “Whether it’s disproportionate pollution burdens or a lack of access to services, many of California’s communities aren’t starting from the same place and need additional resources to get them there.”

    1999 statute directed Cal EPA to conduct its programs, policies, and activities with consideration to environmental justice. While CalRecycle’s EJ program is a result of that direction, the department made a deliberate choice to go all in on EJ.

    A few clicks through CalEnviroScreen 3.0 and you’ll see why CalRecycle’s EJ efforts strive to go above and beyond. Steven Sander of CalRecycle’s Policy Development and Analysis Office says the data speaks for itself.

    According to Sander, research shows that in many instances, siting decisions for things like toxic waste facilities and power plants have disproportionately affected marginalized communities.

    “EJ needs to be there in every decision we make,” he says. “That’s not something you can necessarily legislate. It’s more of an ethos.”

    It goes back to that word—equitable. CalRecycle provides equal treatment to all Californians in its regulatory and oversight role. But as Waste Permitting Compliance and Mitigation chief Mark de Bie puts it, “fair treatment for all” may not always be fair.

    “We have that ethic, and we continue to have that ethic—and fair treatment for all can work to a certain level. But at some point you find that a strategy you could use in three-quarters of California to help inform and engage people might not work in a quarter of the state, so you need to try something else.”

    For Anthony Rodriguez, that starts with bridging the gap between government and the people we serve. In his role with CalRecycle’s Local Assistance and Market Development branch, Rodriguez acts as a liaison between the department and his assigned jurisdictions.

    “My job is to try to help the local people of my jurisdictions and give them a voice,” he says. Rodriguez joined Team EJ to ensure these perspectives are part of the larger conversation at CalRecycle.

    “During my conference calls and site visits, they can bring up environmental justice issues that I can then pass along to upper management.”

    Maybe you’re like Anthony—working directly with communities and can amplify their concerns.

    Maybe you’re more like Mark—a manager or office leader who can raise questions or launch initiatives to make environmental justice part of the ethos in your office.

    Maybe you’re like Julia and Steven—able to raise EJ issues in the writing you produce.

    Or maybe you’re like me—learning the issues, reflecting on your work, and slowly coming to realize that the pursuit of environmental justice requires a team effort.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jun 21, 2018

  • California Pursues Shared Effort to Confront New Recycling Challenges

    Recycling Industry, Experts Explore California Solutions to Global Market Disruption

    The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery joined California waste haulers, recyclers, manufacturers, local leaders, and advocacy groups in Sacramento to help advance statewide discussions on the future of waste reduction and recycling in California. Recent import restrictions from China, coupled with a decline in the global market value of recyclable commodities, have resulted in significant challenges for California businesses, local governments, and consumers.

    CalRecycle organized its “Recycling Globally: California’s Role in Adapting to a New Market Climate” workshop on June 4 to share information regarding changes in international recycling markets, examine how those changes are affecting recycling efforts in California, and discuss the shared responsibility of the state’s public and private sectors to:

    • Reduce the amount of waste generated in the state
    • Build and support recycling markets and infrastructure within California

    “CalRecycle is here to listen, learn, and provide an effective clearinghouse for information as we work together to navigate this rapidly changing situation,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “I’ve heard National Sword described as everything from a crisis to a temporary market condition. I don’t think it matters so much how we name it, but (the disruption) is real, and the impacts are unknown in scope, magnitude, and duration.”

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    The dialogue featured three panel discussions, in addition to questions and comments from the public and various stakeholders who attended the workshop at CalEPA headquarters in Sacramento or who followed the discussion online. A recording of the full workshop is posted here.

    The first panel discussion was titled “Updates on the Current State of Recyclable Commodities.” The panelists were Adina Renee Adler from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries; Pete Keller from Republic Services; and William Winchester from Berg Mill Supply.

    “There is not enough capacity globally today to consume what’s been displaced by China,” Keller said. “Twenty-five million tons of fiber is looking for a home. That capacity may come online, but it’s not coming online next month or even probably next year.”

    “There are always potential surprises around the corner,” Adler said, “but I do think the new market dynamic (for recycled materials) is here to stay.”

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    The second panel addressed “Short-Term Challenges and Opportunities.” Panelists included Tom Padia from StopWaste; Joseph Kalpakoff from Mid Valley Disposal; Michael Lee from City of Los Angeles/LA Sanitation; and Eric Oddo of the Western Placer Waste Management Authority.

    “Single-stream collection (sorting) technology, coupled with China’s historically strong appetite for recyclables and lax (contamination) specifications, created the false belief that everything is recyclable,” said Tom Padia of StopWaste. “Everything isn’t recyclable, and it never was.”

    The workshop concluded with a final discussion titled “Looking Down the Road.” Panelists were Chris Coady from Recycling Partnership; Greg Rodrigues from EcoLogic; Saskia van Gendt with Method Products, and Mark Murray from Californians Against Waste

    Coady urged continued efforts at public education about recycling.

    “The fact is, these programs need to be maintained and public education has to be ongoing,” he said. “It’s not just about educating residents. It’s also educating public officials and keeping everyone aware.”

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    “It is individual products and individual materials that are creating this contamination problem,” Murray said. “In order for us to solve this problem, we’re going to have to make sure that each material manufacturer and each product manufacturer take responsibility for the environmental externalities of their products.”

    As part of CalRecycle’s ongoing commitment to move this dialogue forward, the department developed an online resource for stakeholders to track new international market developments and to share information about innovative local solutions employed by jurisdictions and businesses throughout the state.

    Users can also find guidance related to temporary storage of processed recyclable material, financial assistance programs for California recycling businesses, and CalRecycle’s latest policy reform efforts to reduce excessive packaging waste and combat contamination in our recycling streams.


    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jun 14, 2018