Los Angeles County Poised to Phase-Out Polystyrene Packaging

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted a motion to update and expand a 2011 study of the effects of single-use polystyrene plastic packaging. The motion was co-authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Janice Hahn.

Polystyrene packaging, often known by its trade name, ‘Styrofoam,’ is a ubiquitous source of ocean pollution. Even properly disposed of polystyrene breaks down into small pieces that coagulate in a toxic soup in our ocean or are mistaken for food by wildlife.

The 2011 study commissioned by the County noted that viable and affordable packaging alternatives exist, but the County postponed a polystyrene ban in favor of statewide action. However, the state bill in motion at the time failed to become law and the momentum for a Los Angeles County ban has been stalled ever since.

The State of California aimed to push forward a statewide ban again this year with Senator Allen’s SB 705, but the bill is currently stalled and cannot be reconsidered until 2018.

While the State continues to work towards a statewide ban, Los Angeles County has an opportunity to join more than 100 jurisdictions that have already banned polystyrene and demonstrate that Californians are committed to getting plastics out of our ocean.

The new study must be completed in the next 120 days, at which time Los Angeles County will be able to consider a permanent phase-out of this pervasive material.

 

California is Working to Curb its Food Waste

Many organizations have their own initiatives to increase awareness concerning food waste, as well as efforts to reduce food waste, as the issue has garnered national attention for its urgency.

Here are some ways that California has taken the lead on the fight against food waste.

For the first time ever CalRecycle, the state’s recycling agency, is offering $5 million through the Food Waste Prevention & Rescue Grant Program. Eligible projects include:

  1. Projects preventing food waste from being generated and becoming waste destined for landfills; and
  2. Food rescue projects that result in rescued food being distributed to people.

The grant application deadline is July 18. Program funding ranges from $25,000 to $500,000. This program is the first of its kind in California and offers groups such as food banks and food pantries funding from the state to acquire much needed resources like refrigerated trucks and staff time. Take advantage of this while you can!

CalRecycle, in conjunction with the California Air Resources Board, is also holding public workshops and requesting public input for policy implementation recommendations for achieving the goals and mandates set forth in SB 1383, the Short Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Act. One of those mandates includes a 20% reduction in edible food waste that is sent to landfills by 2025. These initiatives will help the state get one step closer to realizing our edible food recovery goals.

National trade associations have joined forces to standardize date labeling on food packaging among their members. The initiative would result in only two phrases used on packaging (“BEST If Used By” for quality and “USE By” for safety), instead of the plethora currently in use that lead to consumer confusion, and ultimately, food waste. This food date label initiative, along with CAW sponsored legislation AB 954 (Chiu), encourages manufacturers to use uniform phrases. However, these efforts will eventually lead to more widespread use of these uniform phrases for date labels that will decrease food waste.

AB 1219 (Eggman), the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which CAW is a co-sponsor alongside the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB), provides statewide outreach for Good Samaritan laws which protect good faith food donors along, which is something that has not yet been done. Despite existing federal and state protections, many businesses are still fearful of being sued because of donated food.

AB 954 and AB 1219 have both passed the Assembly, Senate policy committees, and will now be heard in the Senate’s fiscal committee before being voted on by the entire Senate floor. Read more about these measures here.

The consequences of food waste and the ways in which food waste can be avoided are slowly becoming better understood and more widely discussed. Let’s keep food waste on our state’s agenda, and we’ll find more ways to waste less good food and help the Earth too.

Learn more about Food Waste »

Learn more about AB 954 (Chiu) The Food Waste Reduction & Date Labeling Act »

Learn more about AB 1219 (Eggman) The California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act »

Living Plastic-Free this July (And Beyond)

The notion of living plastic-free seems quite daunting, and maybe a little silly. July is Plastic-Free Month, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reassess our lifestyle choices and be more mindful of our actions and their environmental consequences. Changing your lifestyle so drastically may appear fruitless in the grand scheme of things, but making these small changes makes a world of difference, trust me. 

Here are some easy ways to reduce your plastic consumption:

1.      Buy and store in bulk. Bring your own reusable containers and bags to the grocery store. Buy products in bulk to save on cost and unnecessary packaging waste. This will also encourage you to follow a less-processed (and more vegan) lifestyle.

2.      Use natural remedies for personal care. Have fun experimenting with recipes to make your own beauty and personal care products, instead of buying commercial products with plastic packaging and harmful chemical additives.

3.      Start composting. You’ll learn that once you begin eliminating your wet waste (fresh produce) from your waste stream, you’ll no longer need plastic garbage bags. Composting is extremely convenient, can happen right in your backyard, and is great top soil for your home garden!

4.      Learn to bring your own. Get into the habit of bringing your own reusable straw and takeout packaging. Living plastic-free may seem to isolate you from certain activities, but it doesn’t have to if you make a point of coming prepared!

5.      Start collecting your waste. Keep a bag of all your plastic waste. You will become more cognizant of your consumption habits and be more likely to institute change. Our patterns of consumption are so engrained that we often overlook all our instances of waste. Slow down and try to understand all your purchases and activities that involve or further encourage your use of plastic.

For inspiration and more ideas, check out Beth Terry’s website at https://myplasticfreelife.com.

Some other great resources:

·         http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/get-started-living-plastic-free/

·         http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/two-years-of-living-plastic-free-how-i-did-it-and-what-ive-learned/

·         https://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/

How to Make this Fourth of July Eco-Friendly

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite times of the summer. Family members travel long distances to see each other, watermelon is in season and juicier than ever, and everyone is in a celebratory mood that seems to lift the heavy heat from your shoulders. Unfortunately, Fourth of July celebrations can also be extremely wasteful, as the barbecue is lit for hours and convenient disposable food ware takes center stage.

Here are some tips you can use this summer to make your Fourth of July celebratory and kind to the environment!

1.      Buy local, organic, and vegan. Make your food travel as small a distance as possible to your plate. Minimize your consumption of produce grown using deleterious pesticides and other chemicals that harm your health as well as the soil. Buying vegan is not only an innovative way to help the animals, but it also decreases the carbon footprint of your meal dramatically, as less resources, time, and distance is spent on bringing vegan ingredients to your table.

2.      Grill wisely. Although there is no way to grill without polluting, we can minimize our environmental impact by choosing electric or propane grills over charcoal grills. Research all the options of products that you can use in your grill, experimenting with the source of your coal and the type of lighter fluid you use.

3.      Ditch the disposable. Encourage your guests to bring their own utensils and dishes to minimize waste. If that proves to be inconvenient, use your own food ware and enlist the help of your guests in the cleanup process. Same goes for your decorations. If decorations are a must for setting the celebratory tone, save your decorations from year to year or think unconventionally and use items that are already around your house to decorate your abode without unnecessary consumption.

4.      Opt for community fireworks. Look for locations in your greater community that are hosting firework celebrations instead of discharging your own dangerous chemicals and smoke into our atmosphere. The Earth will thank you!

For more ideas on how to make your Fourth of July more considerate of our environment, check out these resources:

·       http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-4-july-august/green-life/5-ways-green-your-4th-july

·         http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/01/green-july-4th-eco-friendly_n_889055.html

·         http://earth911.com/home-garden/8-ways-to-green-4th-of-july/

'Styrofoam': We Lost a Battle, but We'll Win the War

Just hours after President Trump’s announcement that he intends to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, SB 705 (by Senator Allen) to ban so called ‘Styrofoam’ takeout containers, came up 6 votes short on the floor of the State Senate.

As the LA Times reported last week, “SB 705 failed to pass Wednesday not because a majority of senators didn’t vote for it, but because a handful of Democratic senators choose the craven path — not to vote at all. As President Trump might say, sad!"

You would think that a 30-year history of successful local ordinances and hundreds of calls and letters from constituents would have had an effect, but Dart Container Corporation and the American Chemistry Council spent millions on lobbyists, campaign contributions, Super PACs, and deceptive ads.

Sound familiar?

We’ve been here before—with plastic bags and microbeads—facing off against some of the same special interests trying desperately to hold on to their ability to sell products that inevitably pollute our rivers, parks, and beaches. But don’t forget—we’ve beaten them before. 

Here's how we win again: 

As this morning’s LA Times so aptly put it, “If such a law couldn’t pass in a year when California’s leaders were doubling as defenders of the global environment, it may take 100 more city bans to force legislators to take it seriously. So bring them on.”

Bring them on indeed!

Learn more about SB 705 (Allen) The Ocean Pollution Prevention Act

Learn more about Polystyrene Pollution and Other Non-Recyclable Plastics

Mark Murray: California Recycling In Decline

 
 

The following text is from Sea Change Radio's website. See the original webpage here.

In 2013 California boasted a recycling rate of 85%. In 2017 that number is now 79% – that is the first time it has dipped below 80% since 2008. Why is the most populous state in the union moving in the wrong direction on this important indicator? This week on Sea Change Radio we speak with Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a nonprofit environmental group that was founded forty years ago to advocate for beverage container recycling in the state. He will explain this troubling trend and talk about what can be done to get California’s recycling program back on its previous trajectory.

State Leaders Should Care About Plastic Bottles as Much as Plastic Bags

The following text is as published by the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board on May 22, 2017. See the original article here

Last year, California voters made the state the first in the nation with a ban on single-use plastic bags by approving Proposition 67. The argument that the durable bags were a long-term threat to land and sea carried the day.

Against this backdrop, it is perverse that the state program that oversees collection and recycling of single-use plastic, metal and glass bottles from consumers in return for giving them back 5-cent and 10-cent deposits is faltering. The 1987 “Bottle Bill” that set up this recycling incentive included a provision that directed unredeemed deposits to the CalRecycle agency for use in reimbursing bottle-collection sites when scrap plastic, glass and metal prices are too low for the sites to make money. But as detailed in a column in Friday’s newspaper by Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, more than 560 recycling centers have closed since January 2016 because scrap prices are at record lows and CalRecycle won’t adjust its rates.

Former EPA official Jared Blumenfeld wrote recently in The Sacramento Bee that as a result, “every day 2 million additional containers are littered or sent to a landfill, including more than 1 million plastic bottles every day.” Every day!

Officials with the Brown administration say CalRecycle doesn’t have the flexibility to increase the rates. Recyclers say yes, the agency does because of legislation that says that the state shall provide “reasonable financial returns” to bottle collectors. But if the state thinks it’s right, why doesn’t Gov. Jerry Brown order his staff to draft a bill that would give CalRecyle the authority it needs?

California’s self-inflicted recycling crisis needs fix

The following text is as published by the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board on May 18, 2017. See the original article here

Californians consume a staggering 64 million single-use plastic, metal and glass beverage containers every day — more than 1 million tons of beverage packaging annually.

Thanks to the “Bottle Bill” — California’s 30-year-old recycling incentive policy — for the better part of the last decade, more than 80 percent of beverage packaging has been recycled.

In a state that prides itself on its commitment to recycling, no other product, material or program has come close to matching the Bottle Bill’s level of recycling success. And no other beverage container recycling program in North America has been found to be as cost-effective.

While nickel and dime refund values are responsible for stimulating consumer collection — 68 percent of containers are still redeemed for cash by consumers — a key to program success has been beverage industry payments that cover the cost of recycling when scrap values are insufficient to do so.

But starting in January 2016, the wheels began to fall off. Despite record low material scrap prices, state determined processing payments failed to cover net recycling costs or provide legislatively mandated “reasonable financial returns.” CalRecycle cited inflexible and outdated regulations and statutory provisions for the snafu which immediately began shorting the state’s public and private recycling infrastructure upward of $2 million per month.

The response of the marketplace was swift. On Jan. 31, 2016, Replanet, which runs the state’s largest recycling network, announced the closing of 191 centers and the layoff of 278 employees. Others followed suit, and by April 1, 2016, more than 400 centers had closed.

Efforts by stakeholders and the state Assembly to address the problem in the 2016-17 state budget were ultimately opposed by the governor’s office, amid vague calls for a more comprehensive reform.

Fast forward to May 2017: The promised reform proposal from the governor’s office has yet to materialize. Recycling center closures have reached more than 560 centers — roughly 25 percent of the infrastructure. Revenue loss to the public and private recycling operators is on track to exceed $50 million by the end of June, at the same time that the program’s year-end fund balance is expected to top $250 million. In the meantime, container recycling rates have fallen below 80 percent for the first time since 2008.

Frustrated members of the Legislature have all but given up on the governor’s office to offer necessary administrative changes. In April, state Senate Environmental Quality Committee Chairman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, introduced legislation to simply hand the $1.3 billion per year recycling program over to the beverage industry to operate.

While the governor’s office and legislators argue over details of a fix, the failure to resolve the issue is costing consumers and the state’s once pre-eminent recycling infrastructure tens of millions of dollars.

The reduced recycling means that every day 2 million additional containers are littered or landfilled, including more than 1 million plastic bottles every day. The loss of recycling centers has hit rural areas especially hard. For consumers who try to supplement family income by redeeming containers, the loss of buy-back recycling locations has reduced total redemption payback by more than $3 million per month.

The governor’s proposed 2017-18 budget presents a critical opportunity for policy makers to come together and fix what’s been broken: Use surplus program revenue to return recycling center funding to 2015 levels, and provide supplemental funding to reopen closed rural centers. It should also include a timeline for closing container exemption loopholes and require beer and soft drink makers to cover at least half the cost of recycling their containers — about two-tenths of a cent per container sold.

As recently as 2013, the California Bottle Bill was humming along at an 85 percent recycling rate, diverting more than 1 million tons of plastic, glass and metal, and contributing thousands of jobs and more than $2 billion to the state’s economy, while delivering the equivalent of 1.45 million tons of reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Consumers and stakeholders would certainly welcome a program update and expansion, but while we wait for a consensus on that, policy makers should stick to the basics and fix what’s broken.

Murray is executive director of Californians Against Waste.

Learn more about the Bottle Bill Crisis

Urgent Bottle Bill Fix Needed to Address Recycling Center Closures

Hundreds of recycling locations have closed in the last 14 months due to a drop in commodity scrap values, and a subsequent failure of the Bottle Bill's ‘Processing Payment’ mechanism to offset that drop in value as promised by statute.  

As a result: 

•    California’s recycling infrastructure is losing $1.25 million per month in reduced payments
•    As a direct result of these reduced payments, 493 recycling locations have closed.
•    Overall container recycling rates have fallen below 80% for the first time since 2008
•    Rural areas have been particularly hard hit, with some areas of the state now having little or no practical redemption opportunity.  

Closed centers have been replaced with pseudo-redemption at hundreds of retail locations, which has proven to be ineffectual, costly and inconvenient (for both consumers and  grocery stores).

CalRecycle data shows that recycling levels have dropped across the state, with especially significant drops in Northern California, and consumers are foregoing as much as $335,000 per month unredeemed deposit (California Refund Value or “CRV”) compared to 2015.

A Two-Part (Short-term/Long-term) Legislative Solution is Needed

•    A short term, temporary urgency bill is needed to address the flawed payment shortfall at the root of the recycling center closures.
•    A second legislative measure or budget proposal should be pursued to update program priorities identified in the Governor’s Budget proposal

We believe elements of the Urgency fix should include: 

1)    Return the Recycling Cost basis for Processing Payments to 2015 levels and adjust processing payments retroactive to January 1, potentially increasing payments to recyclers by $17.9 million in 2017.
2)    Authorize CalRecycle to offer Handling Fees to any recycler willing to set up business anywhere (mobile or stationary) within a currently unserved zone. 
3)    Temporarily suspend costly enforcement efforts on beverage dealers in recently unserved zones, redirecting staff and resources to recruiting and siting viable recycling center operators in unserved zones.

Without these urgent amendments, centers will remain closed, rates will continue to fall, consumer frustration will grow, and efforts to find a ‘comprehensive fix’ will continue to be undermined by a compromised infrastructure.

If you want to help support this effort or get updates, please email us at : info@cawrecycles.org

CA District Attorneys Reach A $935,000 Settlement With Walmart Over Misleading Greenwashing Claims

Sacramento - The Alameda County District Attorney, along with 22 other District Attorneys, announced today that they have reached a settlement with Walmart and its subsidiaries regarding the sale of illegally labeled products that claim to be degradable. The settlement requires Walmart to pay nearly $1 million, the largest fine issued to-date for the sale of products that make misleading environmental claims. A press release from Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is attached.

In 2011, Californians Against Waste sponsored legislation (SB 567, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier) which prohibited the use of the terms “degradable,” “biodegradable,” and “decomposable,” among others, from being used on any plastic products. Products may only be labeled with the terms "compostable," "home compostable," or "marine degradable" if they meet strict international standards.

Teresa Bui, Senior Analyst for Californians Against Waste, issued the following statement:

"We commend the state's District Attorneys for enforcing California's nation-leading consumer protection laws. This action will keep consumers from being deceived by the false and misleading degradability claims that have unfortunately become all too common on plastic cutlery, takeout food packaging, bags, and other plastic products.

Consumers are paying more for products that don't perform any different than traditional plastics when they are disposed, and, in fact, are considered a contaminant in both recycling and composting programs. This is especially egregious because the products with misleading claims compete with products that are truly compostable or are made with recycled content, and the prevalence of these deceptive claims undercuts consumer confidence in all sustainable products."

Governor Releases Budget, Touch on Bottle Bill

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has just released his proposed 2017-18 state budget today, which includes directions for a CA Bottle Bill Program reform: 

Beverage Container Recycling Program Reform
Combatting climate change requires strategies to reduce the amount of landfilled waste and increase recycling for multiple types of materials. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions by lessening the need for natural resource extraction, saving energy in the manufacturing of new products and minimizing landfill emissions.

Over the past 30 years, the Beverage Container Recycling Program, which is  administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), has raised consumer awareness of the environmental impacts of littering and the benefits of recycling single use beverage containers. However, the program faces significant challenges, prompted by changes in consumer products and behavior, developments in recycling systems, and fluctuations in the global commodities market.

To maximize the environmental and economic benefits of recycling beverage containers, the program requires comprehensive reform that aligns with the state’s climate change goals, the state’s 75 percent waste diversion goal, and fiscal sustainability based on the following principles:

  • Improving Recycling and Remanufacturing—The program has been successful in its initial goal of reducing litter by providing recycling collection opportunities for consumers. However, collection does not ensure that a product is recycled into a new commodity. Future investments should be focused on creating clean, recyclable streams of material, which will improve the recycling and remanufacturing segments of the current system. 
  • Sharing Responsibility— Historically, the consumer has shouldered most of the financial burden to sustain the program. Program responsibilities and financing should be rebalanced among all program participants
  • Enhancing Adaptability and Sustainability— Increases in the recycling rate have resulted in a structural deficit in the Beverage Container Recycling Fund. In addition, the program does not respond quickly to fluctuations in the marketplace.

The program must be both nimble and fiscally sustainable. The Administration is committed to collaborating with stakeholders on a comprehensive reform package. To that end, CalRecycle proposes a policy framework that outlines key components of reform.

View CalRecycle's Policy Framework proposal to update the Bottle Bill Program. 

A Map of America's Landfills... All of Them

One would think that they’d be able to tell whether or not they lived close to a landfill, right? You might be closer to one that you think. This interactive map shows just how close you are to active and inactive landfills in your area. 

Click the image to go to the interactive map

Click the image to go to the interactive map

Many of them have closed and have been converted to parks or inconspicuous grassy hills. Though some are still open and actively accepting trash, and after looking at this map you might get a better idea of where your landfill waste goes.

Looking at California on this map it looks absolutely covered in landfills, this is especially true in the Los Angeles area. Considering that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash every day it’s astonishing to think that there are only about 2,000 active landfills in the entire country. Although 4.4 pounds may not sound like a lot, think about how many pounds of trash that equates to per year, about 1,606 pounds. Now think about your entire household creating that amount of waste every year, and the entire country. The U.S. creates 254 million tons of waste per year, and unless we start dramatically decreasing that amount we may very well run out of landfill space.


This is what makes recycling so crucial to our success. In recent years, Americans have continued to increase the amount waste that is recycled instead of landfilled, but at the same time we’re increasing the total amount of trash we generate. With all of the new packaging materials that products are sold in, recyclers are having a hard time keeping up.

When you reduce the amount of waste you generate and when you support Californians Against Waste, you make a huge difference. The more others see you doing things like bringing your own reusable bag or cup and composting your food scraps, the more they’re inspired to try living less wasteful. Supporting CAW and calling your legislators to support legislation that we sponsor helps to make California a more recycling friendly state. 

Use Less, Recycle More

With the holiday season coming to an end and all of the post-Christmas trash being wheeled out in curbside bins, now is the time to evaluate the waste that you created and to begin planning how you can reduce your own waste in the New Year.

There’s a reason for the order of the phrase ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. Reducing waste is ideal because using less stuff means less pollution. Reusing products reduces the item’s greenhouse gas footprint, reduces the amount of waste going to landfills, eliminates the need to reprocess materials, and it saves you money! 

When you’ve reduced and reused as much as you can but still end up with extra materials, it’s now time to turn to recycling. Keep in mind, there are some products that claim to be recyclable but can’t go into your curbside recycling bin, so be wary of those problem products and always check what types of materials your city accepts for recycling.

Here is a quick recycling guide for common holiday waste that may be piling up at your house:

  • Cardboard: Curbside recycling programs accept flattened corrugated cardboard - just be sure to break down cardboard boxes.
  • Packing materials: Many shipping stores accept packing peanuts, rigid foam packing, bubble wrap and other packing materials for reuse. Call your local store to ask whether it takes the materials.
  • Christmas Lights: If your old holiday lights no longer work first try repairing, but if all else fails be sure to recycle them. If your community doesn't have a seasonal recycling program, you can always mail them in with no recycling fee.
  • Ornaments and decorations: Holiday decorations can be reused for years. However, if you grow tired of the decorations, donate them to thrift stores or post them for free on websites like FreecycleNextdoor, or craigslist. Make sure the decorations are in decent condition.
  • Christmas trees: Most communities have Christmas tree pick up or drop off services for residents, if you can’t find any information call your city’s recycling/ solid waste department. If you have a green bin for yard waste, cut your tree into pieces that fit in the bin. Check out the National Christmas Tree Association for other ideas.
  • For all other materials: Use Earth911.com to search for recycling options near you.

Thank you for your support this year. We hope you’ll continue supporting us into the new-year as we enter a new legislative session with many important waste and recycling solutions that we’ll be introducing in the first couple months of 2017. Stay tuned for updates on new legislation!

 

 

Samsung Recall: A Massive Waste of Resources

2.5 million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones have been globally recalled due to instances of batteries exploding, resulting in a major loss in rare earth minerals and a mountain of e-waste. This is the second recall for this phone model, the first recall resulted in replacement phones. When the replacement phones were also found to also catch fire, Samsung asked customers to shut off their phones and return them altogether. The fact is that not all of these phones will make it back to Samsung for recycling and even if they do a large percentage of the materials that make up these devices can’t be recovered.

Source: Motherboard.vice.com

Source: Motherboard.vice.com

The bulk of the waste caused by these defective batteries could have been prevented if Samsung hadn’t designed the phone batteries to be glued in. If the phones would have been manufactured with easily removable batteries, the solution could have been as easy as mailing Galaxy Note 7 users a new, less explosive, battery. Instead we are left with 2.5 million, practically new, phones that can no longer be used.

The average smartphone, which weighs less than a pound, requires about 165 pounds of raw mined materials according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on the other hand, was one of the largest and most advanced smartphones and required close to 500 pounds of raw minerals. This phone contained about 50 different elements, less than 25% of which are recoverable in the recycling process. The planet’s reserves of rare earth minerals used in electronics are quickly diminishing, and it’s becoming more obvious that we need to drastically change the way we manufacture electronics in order to make products more easily repairable and recyclable.

This event was an environmental tragedy and we hope all smartphone manufacturers will learn from this and make their products with repair and recycling in mind. 

Read more about California's existing e-waste laws

Keeping E-Waste Out of Landfills One Bill at a Time

Remember those old bulky TV’s? Just because they have largely been replaced by flat panel and LCD television doesn’t mean they’ve all disappeared. Many are still stored in the attic, guest bedroom, gathering dust until they make their way to an e-waste recycler.

For the last few years  in California the only paths for recycling the glass that comes with old bulky Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) TVs and monitors are lead smelting, glass-to-glass recycling (manufacturing more CRT devices), or hazardous waste landfills. Many e-waste recyclers in California have been resorting to disposal ever since the world’s only CRT glass-to-glass recycling operation in India has shut down and reopened, leaving many concerned with their reliability. Lead smelting is only an option for a small volume of CRT glass due to smelting’s low capacity. According to a state report, 21.8 million pounds of CRT glass handled in California has been disposed of since January 1st, 2016 instead of being recycled.

That is unfortunate because a large chunk of CRT glass (known as CRT panel glass) is recyclable.

Not only is this material not being recycled but e-waste recyclers are either stockpiling this material or paying for the disposal instead of achieving the true benefit of recycling which is replacing virgin materials. In some cases this has caused e-waste recyclers to go out of business. When an e-waste recycler shuts down, it not only affects the employees of that business but also the nearby residents who rely on that recycler to take care of their community’s e-waste.

A CAW-sponsored bill, AB 1419 by Assemblymember Susan Eggman, recently signed into law by Governor Brown will bring new recycling opportunities for panel glass, which is the largest portion of CRT devices. This bill allows for specified end-uses of panel glass, after it’s been cleaned and processed, for use in new products such as tiles. Keeping electronic waste out of landfills allows valuable resources to continue circulating in the economy, lessening the need to mine or manufacture more material. Recyclers will now have a newly allowed recycling path for CRT glass, helping to keep their businesses open and providing Californians with the essential service of e-waste recycling. 

Governor Brown Signs Bill that will Divert 75% of the State's Organic Waste From Landfills

Thanks to the ongoing support of our members and all of our supporters who took action, our efforts to help pass a monumental piece of legislation has succeeded!

Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that has made California the state with the toughest reduction targets for Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in the entire nation. Short-lived Climate Pollutants, or Super Pollutants, are toxic air contaminants that pose significant environmental public risks, including premature death.

SB 1383, by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), requires the California Air Resources Board to implement the short-lived climate pollutant strategy to achieve a reduction in the statewide emissions of methane by 40 percent, hydrofluorocarbon gases by 40 percent, and anthropogenic black carbon by 50 percent below 2013 levels by 2030.

Organic waste materials make up two-thirds of the state’s waste stream and when disposed of in landfills they generate methane, a Short-lived Climate Pollutant that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide. In order to achieve methane reductions SB 1383 creates the target of a 75% reduction in the disposal of organic waste from 2014 levels by 2025. This will reduce methane emissions from landfills by diverting organic waste to be better utilized as soil amendments.

Additionally, this law includes a goal to recover 20% of edible food that is currently disposed to be better utilized to feed the more than 6 million food insecure Californians. Food waste is the most prevalent item in our landfills, and nearly 2 out of every 5 lbs of food produced is never eaten. In addition to avoiding landfill methane emissions, the diversion of edible food landfills allows it to be better utilized either to feed hungry people or animals in the case of food rescue.

The methane reductions that this bill creates will provide immediate beneficial impacts to air quality, public health, and climate change.

Help us continue our work as we fight for statewide solutions to waste reduction and recycling.