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

  • Life’s What You Bake It: How I Started Sieving My Dreams

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    Originally posted by tsixiraki

    As many people do at the turn of the calendar, I started evaluating my life. Job? Check! Education? Check! House with a cool artificial drought-friendly lawn? Check! I was left with a big, “Now what?” hanging over me. The only logical answer was cake … and not just one cake, but 52—one every week for the entire year.

    If you’ve ever gone on a baking spree, you’re probably familiar with leftover ingredients and scraps. In fact, when you’re learning, there can be even more waste. I felt my eco-guilt wagging its green finger at me every time I accidentally mixed the wrong ingredients and had to throw everything away. I also got tired of seeing all these leftover cake domes (the round part on top of the cake) and excess frosting. Throwing them away is a crime against cake and the planet if you ask me! So I did some research, which resulted in two ways to cut down cake waste.

    One option was to eliminate the cake dome altogether using baking strips, which are soaked in water and wrapped around the cake pan. The strips can be made from kitchen towels or purchased if you’re not the DIY type. The end result is more even baking and a level top perfect for layering without a need to cut off a dome.

    If you don’t want to go this route, there’s another solution: the cake truffle!

    Also known as a cake ball or stickless cake pop, the cake truffle is a tastier solution to the baking waste problem in my kitchen. To make a cake truffle, all you need is leftover cake, frosting, and melted candy coating (melted chocolate chips will work just fine).

    Here’s how to make these delightfully waste-free morsels: 

    1. Crumble your leftover cake with your fingers or a food processor.
    2. Mix in a little bit of the leftover frosting until the crumbs are coated enough to hold a ball shape. It’s better to mix in a little at a time—too much frosting will make the truffle squishy, and it won’t hold its shape.
    3. Use a spoon to measure out an even amount of the cake and frosting mix and roll into a ball with your hands. Repeat until you’re out of mix.
    4. To set the balls, put them in the refrigerator while you’re melting the candy coating.
    5. I recommend using almond bark, because it’s a little more user-friendly than melting baking chocolate. The instructions are self-explanatory: Put the bark in a pot, and melt the bark on a stove. Once the candy coating is melted, place one cake ball on top of a fork (don’t stab it; gently place it). Dip it in the melted bark and coat the truffle. Gently place the coated truffle on parchment paper (or a silicone mat if you’re being extra eco-friendly). If you want, sprinkle a garnish on top before the candy coating dries. Repeat until all your truffles are coated.
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    That’s it! You’ve got yourself a waste-free dessert. I recommend bringing them to work to share—it’s a great way to make friends! And if you want to up your zero-waste baking game, do what I do: Instead of plastic pastry decorating bags, try reusable ones. They’re canvas and easy to clean, and if you bake as much as I do, you’ll be reducing plastic waste. I also use silicone cupcake liners instead of paper ones. 

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    I’ll leave you with this: Make cake, not waste.

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jun 12, 2017

  • $5 Million Available to Fight Climate Change, Feed Hungry

    Cap-and-Trade dollars fund food waste prevention and rescue projects throughout California

    Media Contact: Heather Jones
    (916) 319-9936 | Heather.Jones@calrecycle.ca.gov
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    As part of the state’s effort to combat climate change, divert organic materials from landfills and alleviate food insecurity in California, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery is providing $5 million in grant funds for food waste prevention and food rescue.

    Grant awards range from $25,000 to $500,000 to accommodate small and large projects. The deadline to submit grant applications is July 18. 

    “Strengthening California’s food recovery infrastructure will help feed communities in need and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time,” said CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline. “Preventing food waste and recovering edible food is not only a way to battle hunger in our state, but to protect Californians and our natural resources from the ravaging effects of climate change.”

    Food waste comprises about 18 percent of the material disposed in California landfills, the highest amount of any material. As it decomposes, it emits methane, a short-lived climate pollutant that contributes to climate change. Much of the food waste and methane at landfills is preventable through smarter consumer planning and purchasing. Edible food can also be safely recovered and distributed to disadvantaged communities and elsewhere around the state.

    CalRecycle is currently accepting applications for the grants. Eligible entities include local governments; nonprofit organizations; private entities; state agencies; solid waste facilities; UC, CSU, and community college campuses; public school districts; and qualifying Indian Tribes. Eligible projects include those that prevent food waste from being generated and becoming waste normally destined for landfills and projects that result in rescued food being distributed to people in need.

    Food waste prevention and food rescue programs support the methane emissions reduction targets outlined in Senate Bill 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016):

    • SB 1383 establishes targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the level of the statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025.
    • It also requires that not less than 20 percent of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025.

    The Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that uses cap-and-trade funds to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy, and improve public health and the environment.  Related CalRecycle grant programs include organics grants for the development of composting and anaerobic digestion facilities throughout the state. Additional information is available on the CalRecycle Grants webpage.

    Connect With Us                
    CalRecycle is the state’s authority on recycling, waste reduction, and product reuse. CalRecycle plays an important role in the stewardship of California’s natural resources and promotes innovation and education to encourage economic and environmental sustainability.  For more information, visit www.calrecycle.ca.gov.

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Jun 8, 2017

  • Fighting Climate Change by Feeding the Hungry

    Local food recovery networks key to cutting California GHG emissions

    It’s 10 a.m. on a typical Wednesday at FoodLink for Tulare Countyand Executive Director Sarah Ramirez, PhD, MPH has to make some quick decisions. The California Association of Food Banks has four truckloads (92 pallets) of California-grown mixed vegetables—radishes, celery, and kale—available, thanks to a donation from a grower or packing house.

    “Maybe they have too much, it’s sitting in their cold box for too long, it doesn’t meet retail standards, or it could be imperfect ugly produce,” Ramirez explains.

    The kale might last a week once it arrives, and only four of the county’s 27 food pantries have cold storage. She continues, “Then you get into, ‘If we only have one produce truck, how many distributions do we (Foodlink) have left this month? Can we get it all out?’”

    Ideally, all of that produce will make it into the bellies of the roughly1 in 3 Tulare County residents (or 1 in 8 Californians) considered food insecure. But if a pantry receives more radishes, celery, or kale than it can handle, chances are good that some of it will wind up among the nearly 6 million tons of food waste landfilled in California each year. Preventing that scenario is top priority for Ramirez and her colleagues within California’s vast network of food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, and other food recovery organizations throughout the state. 

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    Photo courtesy of FoodLink Tulare County

    It’s also a crucial part of California’s strategy to combat climate change.

    When sent to landfills, food and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a heat-trapping effect at least 70 times greater than carbon dioxide.

    “Bolstering California’s food recovery infrastructure will help feed communities in need and also result in significant greenhouse gas reductions,” says Kyle Pogue, organics program manager with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

    Food recovery also helps ease the looming burden on the state’s limited organic waste recycling facilities, which California must roughly double in order to meet the legislative mandates and climate goals passed in recent years. The most recent legislation, SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), establishes significant methane emissions reduction targets that require the near elimination of organic waste in landfills. It also sets forth a requirement to recover 20 percent of edible food, currently sent to landfills, for human consumption by 2025.

    With that in mind, CalRecycle has expanded grant opportunities for food recovery organizations through California Climate Investments. The statewide program puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. During fiscal year 2016/17, CalRecycle is debuting a new Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant program with $5 million dedicated specifically to this effort.

    “Many food recovery organizations tell us there’s a shortage in infrastructure,” Pogue says. “We want to help these groups recover more food by growing their capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more product.”

    The designated dollars for food recovery could help groups like Foodlink for Tulare County add more refrigerated trucks, or increase the number of cold storage units within the county’s food pantries. “We live in a county where about 40 percent of our children are living in poverty,” Ramirez says. “Just think about what that additional food could be doing for these families.”

    The renewed focus on food recovery is also welcome news for people like Patti Larson, executive director for Los Angeles-basedFood Finders. “It’s definitely helping us and putting food recovery in the spotlight where it wasn’t before.”

    Larson’s organization relies on donations of primarily prepared and perishable food from grocers, restaurants, schools, hotels, and other venues, which volunteers help deliver to area shelters in need. Larson says she’s always looking for new funding opportunities and appreciates the investments California is making in this area. “If it’s still good food and you know there’s a need in your community, why wouldn’t helping feed people be your priority?”

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    Photo courtesy of FoodLink Tulare County

    Ultimately, reducing the amount of surplus food generated in the first place is the most environmentally beneficial way to cut emissions associated with growing, transporting, processing, and storing food.

    “As much as we can prevent food waste or recover food waste and get it into California’s food recovery network, it’s less of a burden on the organics infrastructure to either compost or digest it,” Pogue continues. “We could potentially be talking about a lot of food that could be used to feed a lot of people in need.”

    Contact your local food recovery nonprofit or the California Association of Food Banks to find out how you can get involved.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on May 18, 2017