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California Aiming to Hike Funding for Organics Diversion, Recycling

Article-California Aiming to Hike Funding for Organics Diversion, Recycling

California has proposed increasing funds for diverting organic waste from landfills, greater product manufacturing with recycled content and building healthy soils.

The state governor’s office proposed the funding increase, aiming ultimately to reduce greenhouse gases, in its May revise budget proposal.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal calls for an increase to $60 million the funding in California’s Cap and Trade Expenditure Plan for waste diversion. That includes financial incentives for capital investments to expand the state’s composting and anaerobic digestion infrastructure, as well as its recycled content manufacturing.

It expands on the $25 million allocated for the programs last year, which resulted in the most over-subscribed programs funded through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and in the most cost-effective reductions.

 The plan also allocated $20 million for a new program to fund the Healthy Soils Initiative, which will support demonstration projects that increase the ability of soil to sequester carbon, retain water, increase crop yields and decrease sediment erosion through on-farm practices, including the application of compost.

Californians Against Waste, the Sacramento-based environmental advocacy group, applauded the move in a statement. “To meet our climate and recycling goals, we need to take the millions of tons of materials we continue to throw away and return it to the economy as manufacturing inputs, or sources of clean energy and inputs for sustainable agriculture,” said Nick Lapis, legislative coordinator for the group. “This investment is a down payment on the infrastructure that will be necessary to make that transition.” 

 California has been aggressive in expanding its waste diversion to meet its goal of a 75 percent recycling rate by 2020. The state passed three bills last September to increase recycling and energy conversion of waste. One law requires commercial organics recycling. Mandatory recycling of organic waste is the next step toward achieving California’s recycling and greenhouse gas emission goals, says Lance Klug, public information officer for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), in a recent Waste360 interview.

The other bills passed last fall include one that phases out the recycling credit for yard and other plant waste that is used as alternative daily cover at landfills, and another clarifying that the definition of biomass conversion including non-thermal conversion of organic waste to energy.

The state also passed a bag ban law last year, the first such statewide initiative in the United States. But opponents of the legislation are trying to get it repealed, and proponents, including Californians Against Waste, have formed a coalition to protect the law.

The Washington-based American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) is gathering signatures to have a referendum to repeal the law. The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) also supports repeal.

In response, a coalition of environmental, labor and business groups along with local government officials formed the California vs. Big Plastic campaign to protect the ban against what it calls an effort by out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers to force a November 2016 referendum on the measure.

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