A new grant opportunity offers California businesses, nonprofits, government entities, and Indian tribes an opportunity to fund new reuse projects.
Offering between $300,000 and $500,000 per grant, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery intends to award a total of $2 million statewide this December, with applications due Sept. 10 and a question-and-answer period closing this Thursday.
Using the Q&A period to ensure eligibility is a good first step if you are not certain whether your project fits the criteria, but CalRecycle’s website provides significant clarification. Listed are four types of qualified projects:
- Replacement of single-use containers with refillables, including, but not limited to beverage, food or personal care product containers.
- Replacement of single-use food service ware (plates, cups, utensils) with durable alternatives that can be reused.
- Replacement of single-use packaging with reusable packaging used to transport or distribute goods (e.g., crates, pallets).
- Recovery of lumber, wood flooring, or wood furniture from landfills or through deconstruction projects for reuse.
Oxnard Pallet Company, one local business considering applying for the grant, has a long history of innovative reuse and has already won other funding from CalRecycle through the Ventura County Recycling Market Development Zone.
Standard pallet reuse is business as usual for many companies and would probably not have a strong competitive chance to win a statewide grant opportunity such as this, but Beatrice Vasquez, owner of Oxnard Pallet Company and president of the Western Pallet Association, explains how her company is different.
“We take off-spec and broken pallets, deconstruct them and reassemble them into 48-inch-by-40-inch standard pallets, which are always in high demand.”
In the past, retail was more clearly a target of the grant program, and a Reuse Grant was a major source of funding launching Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores in Ventura County.
ReStores sell donated surplus and gently used home improvement items, raising money for Habitat’s mission of partnering with people in need to build decent affordable housing. After starting a ReStore in Ventura and moving the store while expanding in Oxnard, Habitat later developed a second ReStore in Simi Valley.
Through the question period process, CalRecycle will clarify eligibility for retail operations during this grant cycle, and Michelle Stevens, founder and owner of The Refill Shoppe, will be watching.
The Refill Shoppe helps people avoid single-use packaging by selling soaps, detergents, shaving lotions, skin creams and other items from bulk dispensers for refilling multi-use containers.
Having reopened her store in July following a pandemic-related shut down, Stevens is interested in improving databases and doing outreach to bring in new customers for expansion of the Refill Shoppe’s “sudscription” program, through which customers ordering online receive spout pouches, which they drain into their reused container before mailing back the same pouch for a refill.
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In-store refills are also available at the Refill Shoppe, following assistance from the Women’s Economic Ventures Thrive program, which helped Stevens change store layout and procedures to make shopping safer for customers and staff.
Customers still bring in their own containers for refill and reuse, but now people sanitize the outside of their own containers with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution and staff re-fill the containers.
If you have an idea for a reuse business, then check out the grant opportunity at https://calrecycle.ca.gov/climate/grantsloans/reuse/fy201920, and send an email to GHGReductions@calrecycle.ca.gov by Thursday to ensure your business idea is eligible.
Eco-Tip is written by David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst for the Ventura County Public Works Agency. He can be reached at 658-4312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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