Recycling / Waste Reduction

 

Californians take pride in on our adherence to the three “Rs”: Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Recycling programs are available in every city, and the state has embraced “zero waste” as a guiding principle and goal for the future. According to the recently-abolished California Integrated Waste Management Board (once the state’s leading authority on recycling and waste reduction): “Zero waste is based on the concept that wasting resources is inefficient and that efficient use of our natural resources is what we should work to achieve. It requires that we maximize our existing recycling and reuse efforts, while ensuring that products are designed for the environment and have the potential to be repaired, reused, or recycled.” At the heart of this concept is that proper management of the state’s natural resources, and not waste management, is the best way to reduce waste sent to landfills.

In spite of important strides made to reduce waste, every Californian generates approximately 6 pounds each of trash per day, and we continue to throw away resources in the name of convenience to both the consumer and manufacturer of products. For example, Californians use over 19 billion plastic grocery bags every year, creating almost 150,000 tons of waste in landfills and uncollected trash, according to Californians Against Waste. Grocery bags and other plastic litter are also a major source of marine pollution.

Recycling is an important piece of the solution. In addition to saving natural resources and energy, recycling is a big business in California. It accounts for approximately 85,000 jobs and produces $10 billion in products and services per year.

Officially known as the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, "CalRecycle" is a new department within the California Natural Resources Agency and administers programs formerly managed by the Integrated Waste Management Board and Division of Recycling.

Example of action that helps Californians reduce waste: In 2005, the Governor signed AB 338 (Levine) requiring Caltrans to phase in the use of rubberized asphalt concrete, which is made from recycled tires. California generates 32 million waste tires annually; fortunately there is a perfect use for recycled tires: rubberized asphalt concrete used to build and repair streets and highways. Despite years of studies showing that the material lasts longer and has a lower life cycle cost than regular concrete, Caltrans and highway contractors had fought its use for years. AB 338 finally ensured that common sense was converted to public policy.

Example of action that hinders Californians from reducing their waste: In 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger pledged to eliminate the California Integrated Waste Management board as a cost-cutting (and politically symbolic) measure. The waste board, which provided oversight of landfills and recycling programs, also provided valuable public oversight on decisions about environmental regulations. It was called by environmental champion Assemblymember Wes Chesbro, who served for a decade on the board, the “state's most successful environmental program.” But it was criticized by the governor as a patronage haven for former legislators (several of its current appointed members were former state Democratic lawmakers with stellar environmental credentials) and was abolished as of January 2010.

As of January 2010, CalRecycle is the new home of California’s recycling and waste reduction efforts.

Recycling / Waste Reduction Votes

Year Bill # Description Assembly Senate Governor
2015 AB 888 Removing ugly plastics from beauty products (2015)
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
2014 AB 1594 Over the landfill and through the loophole
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
2014 SB 812 Stronger oversight of hazardous waste
Good
Good
Good
Good
Bad
Bad
2014 SB 270 Banning plastic bags
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
2013 SB 254 Mattress recycling
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
2013 SB 405 Phasing out plastic bags
No Action
No Action
Bad
Bad
No Action
No Action
2012 AB 845 Dumping on thy neighbor
Bad
Bad
Bad
Bad
Bad
Bad
2012 SB 568 Short-term convenience, long-term pollution
Bad
Bad
No Action
No Action
No Action
No Action
2011 AB 341 Waste not, want not
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
2011 AB 1178 Dumping on thy neighbor
Bad
Bad
No Action
No Action
No Action
No Action
2011 SB 568 Styrofoam's short-term convenience, long-term impact
No Action
No Action
Good
Good
No Action
No Action
2010 AB 1998 Sacking the bag
Good
Good
Bad
Bad
No Action
No Action
2010 SB 1100 Battery EPR bill shorts out
No Action
No Action
Good
Good
No Action
No Action
2010 AB 1343 Painting the roses green
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
2010 AB 737 Commercial Waste Diversion... Terminated again
Good
Good
Good
Good
Bad
Bad
2010 AB 2398 Cradle to cradle, carpet to carpet
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
2009 AB 473 Multifamily recycling bill: trashed again
Good
Good
Good
Good
Bad
Bad
2009 SB 402 Governor crushes opportunity to expand recycling
Good
Good
Good
Good
Bad
Bad
2008 AB 2058 Plastic or reusable?
Good
Good
No Action
No Action
No Action
No Action
2005 AB 1125 Recycling rechargeable batteries
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
 
 
 

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