SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Government, non-profit and private organizations celebrated Earth Day today by hosting a variety of beautification projects and recycling efforts across the Golden State.
In Sacramento, representatives gathered at the State Capitol to announce their organizations' plans for the state as part of the 6th Annual Great American Cleanup™ campaign.
Led by Keep California Beautiful (KCB), McDonald's, California Electronic Asset Recovery (CEAR) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Great American Cleanup™ campaign in California offered residents and businesses a chance to dispose of their electronic waste more easily throughout the greater Sacramento-Central Valley region. CEAR provided the receptacles and McDonald's provided the locations—28 in all. An additional collection site was also set up at the Jesse Unruh Building traffic circle near the State Capitol.
"Not recycling your e-waste, proposing on a blind date, networking at funerals, or gas station sushi are all outrageously wrong, just like littering," said Christine Flowers, Executive Director Keep California Beautiful. "Today's efforts throughout the state are to help send the message and educate the public that some individual actions are not acceptable anymore."
"Californians have an opportunity to lead the nation in clean, green living," said Anna Caballero, Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency. "Recycling your e-waste is an easy step to prevent pollution and contamination in our landfills. It's quick, easy and a great way to protect the planet for years to come."
Since California's electronic waste recycling program began in 2005, more than 1 billion pounds of video display devices, such as televisions and computer monitors, have been recycled, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). CalRecycle estimates a similar volume of non-video e-waste has also been collected in that time.
"Thanks to this program, Californians can do the right thing with electronic devices that reach the end of their useful life," CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen said. "The precious metals and other commodities electronics contain can be recycled, and the toxic materials within them can be handled and disposed of properly."
CEAR and McDonald's cite a commitment to California as being the prime motivator in their involvement in the clean up.
"Considering the e-waste numbers we diverted from landfills last year and the community service efforts McDonald's, CEAR and all of our great partners were able to collaborate on, we knew it was an event that we needed to repeat and expand," said Kristin DiLallo Sherrill, director of marketing and new business for CEAR. "All the partners here today want to make sure California is clean and sustainable."
"As members of our local communities, McDonald's franchisees from throughout California are proud to partner with Keep California Beautiful for the Great American Cleanup as part of our ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship," said Jason Goldblatt, Keep California Beautiful board member and a local McDonald's franchise owner. "We doubled the number of locations for this year's effort, and McDonald's locations in the Bakersfield area have already hosted their first event last month."
In addition to being a visual blight, litter is a significant financial problem in our state. Caltrans spent $43 million last year on litter abatement and trash collection programs. On Earth Day alone, Caltrans picked up 2,533 cubic yards of litter – enough to fill nearly 160 garbage trucks. Nearly 3,000 volunteers also participate in Caltrans' Adopt-A-Highway program, saving taxpayers an estimated $11 million annually in litter removal costs. This year, in celebration of Earth Day and to increase public awareness of the litter problem on our highways, Caltrans workers were joined by executives out on highways statewide cleaning up California.
"Caltrans is committed to a clean and litter-free California, but we can't do it alone. Everyone should think about what happens when they toss trash out of their vehicles onto our highways," said acting Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. "Litter costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year to clean up. That's money that could be better spent on transportation projects."
Agency leaders hope the messages resonate long after the event.
"Earth Day is an opportunity for each of us to celebrate California's natural beauty," said California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Matt Rodriquez. "Recycling is one of the easiest, least expensive things we can do to help improve our environment and our communities."
Representatives from the private sector said they also are serious about trash, especially when so much of it can be reused or can become different products.
"Many plastics are readily recyclable. Simply put, plastics are a valuable resource. Too valuable to waste," said Sherri McCarthy, manager, State Affairs, Western Region for the American Chemistry Council, a trade association that includes many of the nation's leading plastics makers. "These items don't belong in landfills or discarded in our waterways. They belong in the recycle bin."
Also during the Sacramento event, artwork from the 2012 Green Arts Competition for the Greater Bakersfield Green Expo was showcased. This competition has already awarded more than $6,000 in scholarship money and the public is invited to vote for their favorite artwork online by April 24th to award additional prizes. The Kern County students were honored for their unique artwork created from recycled and reused materials.
And finally, event organizers awarded the 2011 California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge "Waste Not, Want Not" trophy to the students from Arvin Union School District and Riverside Independent Learning for respectively winning their division of the Waste Minimization competition. Pittsburg Unified School District and Foot Hill Elementary received trophies for the Grand Champion division. Top honors went to Tijeras Creek Elementary for The Recycle Rex Challenge.
Other event partners included the Department of General Services and Department of Toxic Substances Control. In addition to activities in Sacramento, Keep California Beautiful board member organizations, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and Keep Los Angeles Beautiful launched the LitteringIsWrongToo Campaign in their region. Keep America Beautiful's local affiliates hosted events throughout the state to celebrate the earth while educating participants about environmental sustainability and living green.
SOURCE Keep California Beautiful