Waste Not California! CAW's Plan for Protecting Our Environment, Expanding Recycling and Creating Green Jobs
The Problem: Exposure to toxic heavy metals and other hazardous materials poses a significant and growing threat to public health and the environment. Human exposure to mercury, lead and other hazardous substances contained in consumer electronics can result in neurological damage and cancer. Appropriately, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control banned the disposal of most electronic devices in the solid waste stream. However, with a few exceptions, California lacks the infrastructure and incentives for the recycling of most of these devices. In 2003, approximately 450,000 tons of toxic laden electronics were disposed in California landfills, while millions of additional devices remained stockpiled in homes and office.
Our Approach: Expand Producer Responsibility for the End of Life Impact of hazardous products and materials. Wherever feasible, phase out the use of hazardous materials in products. Develop a convenient 'no cost' collection and recycling infrastructure. Establish market-based incentives to encourage the recycling of problem products.
The Problem: Climate change threatens not only our statewide infrastructure and economy, but our health and the environment as well. The California Energy Commission projects an increase in coastal sea level, a decrease in winter snow pack and corresponding water supply, and dramatic strains on California's hot-season energy supply.
As the largest source of manmade methane emissions in the California, landfills are major GHG contributors. Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas and is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2). Ton for ton, waste reduction and recycling reduces more pollution, saves more energy and reduces GHG emissions more than any other solid waste management option. Despite the proven benefits of recycling, 60% of the "garbage" that goes to the landfill is recyclable and just half of California residents have access to convenient and cost effective curbside recycling.
Our Approach: Diverting just an additional 20% of currently disposed aluminum cans, cardboard, food waste and paper, will cut GHG emissions from the solid waste sector in half. This can be done by:
The Problem: As the fastest growing component of the state's solid waste stream, and the number one type of material found littered on beaches and roadsides, plastics has impacted the economy and the environment. The abundance of plastic grocery bags, polystyrene cups and boxes, and other take-out food packaging--in our oceans poses significant risks to marine habitat, wildlife and water quality. Roughly 80% of marine debris originates from land-based activities, and plastics make up 90% of floating marine debris. Plastic debris kills animals through entanglement, starvation, suffocation, and ingestion. Less than 5% of plastic bags are recycled, and few contain recycled content. These easily disposable items, which are also frequently littered, take hundreds of years to break down.
Our Approach: Expand producer responsibility for the environmental and economic consequences of their disposable products and packaging, through take-back, source reduction, minimum recycled content and advance disposal fee approaches.
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