Southern California environment news and trends

Starbucks introducing earth-friendlier hot cup sleeves

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Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

In another example of little things meaning a lot, the Starbucks is launching the EarthSleeve, a new hot cup sleeve the coffee company claims will potentially save close to 10,000 trees.

According to a company press release, the EarthSleeve was developed for Starbucks by LBP Manufacturing in conjunction with Henkel, and uses 34 percent less raw fiber material with a full 25 percent increase in recycled materials. Given the company’s overwhelming share of the American coffee market, this cup sleeve upgrade is poised to make a considerable environmental and industry difference.

“At Starbucks we are constantly looking to innovate in ways that make our world a better place,” said Cliff Burrows, president of the Americas for Starbucks in a statement. “This product represents how the integration of our environmental values and collaboration with like-minded organizations can create significant impact.”

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Battery companies plot national recycling program

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A tub of batteries.

Battery manufacturers Duracell, Energizer, Panasonic and Rayovac comprise the Corporation for Battery Recycling, a nonprofit group committed to creating a nationwide collection and recycling initiative for household batteries. This week, the CBR issued a call for proposals from potential business partners to help manage and facilitate the program.

"Our vision is to have an industry-led voluntary program that redefines how U.S. consumers dispose of batteries, maximizing the reuse of spent battery materials and producing zero waste to landfill," said Marc K. Boolish, president of the CBR in a statement. "We are seeking a stewardship organization with the capacity to build a national program that is convenient and inspires consumers to participate by recycling the batteries they use in a range of electronic and household devices."

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New law requires commercial recycling in California

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A cook drops fish skin and fat into a recycling container at MoMo's restaurant in San Francisco, California.

Among the almost two dozen new laws that went into effect as of July 1 includes AB 341, which will require about 470,000 businesses and apartment buildings to recycle. As reported by the Huffington Post, the law affects any business that produces at least four cubic yards of waste per week and all multi-resident apartment buildings of at least five units, with a goal of 75 percent disposal reduction by 2020. According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, about 20 percent of California’s 1.3 million businesses will fall under this new jurisdiction, which account for 75 percent of the commercial waste in the entire state.

“While California leads the nation in solid waste diversion, businesses and property owners are being encouraged to be more proactive in doing their part to increase those diversion rates,” said Mike Smith, director of operations for Waste Management of Ventura County in the Ventura County Star. “Increasing recycling means more material will be kept away from local landfills as we help to conserve earth’s natural resources.”

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California students petition Crayola for marker recycling

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ALL_CAPS/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Kids go through a lot of markers. From school projects to decorating notebook covers with band logos, those finger-staining mainstays of classic American school supplies are as ubiquitous as No. 2 pencils.

For some 40 grade-schoolers in San Rafael, California, the sheer volume of student marker usage was the inspiration behind a new petition urging Crayola to develop a recycling program for used plastic markers.

"The idea evolved from conversations with kids about plastic waste and they immediately identified with how many Crayola plastic markers they had thrown away," said Land Wilson, a parent of one of the Sun Valley School students behind the petition to msnbc.com. "We simply want Crayola to establish an easy take back program that kids can partake in  -- i.e. prepaid return envelopes with their products or dropoff locations at retail outlets and schools."

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The truth about recycling pizza boxes

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Colleen Bates

Finishing off a large pie with some friends recently, conversation turned to the recyclability of the cardboard pizza box it came in, not to mention the pile stacked up in the corner of the room (theoretically speaking, of course, considering the wealth of pizza specials across Los Angeles lately).

While a large percentage of the corrugated pizza boxes in America come adorned with the universal recycling symbol, they can’t just be tossed in the tell-tale blue bins on L.A. streets. As it turns out, the cheese and grease that stains most of the boxes after a pizza delivery is the deal-breaking culprit.

“The oil gets in when you’re doing your process of making paper,” Terry Gellenbeck, a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix told Earth 911. “The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers. It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes.”

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