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Help Support The Race To Zero Waste!

 

Join the Virtual 5K Walk/Run
to Zero Waste Challenge!
(Or just donate!)

With your generous support, Race to Zero Waste can uphold its mission of “Sustainability in Action.” As we reflect upon our workers, ways to promote Zero Waste initiatives, and how we can better serve our community once social restrictions are lifted, we can acknowledge our past, work in the present, and plan a Zero Waste future for all.

Below are The 3 P’s your support of Race to Zero Waste will create:

  • Providing financial assistance to R20W Workers
  • Promoting accessible Zero Waste education and outreach
  • Pursuing safer, more efficient Zero Waste methods for future events.

We are all in this together and your support will help guide our future into a new and even better normal than the one we left behind. RUN/WALK/BIKE with us in solidarity over solutions that keep us all safe and our planet healthy for generations to come.

 

Once you register you’ll be able to set-up your tracker (Charity Footprints free iOS/Android app or link up your Fitbit), and complete your distance goal anywhere and anytime!

The registration/running fee is $25, and you can sign up as an individual our create your own team to invite friends and family to support you on this challenge.

We’ve got some fun ways to stay engaged, learn about Zero Waste and meet new people virtually of course >:)

SAVE THE DATES:
May 22nd, Live @ 5 pm PDT – Zero Waste Educational Series
May 29th, Live @ 5 pm PDT – Celebration Zero Waste Fest

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81719167159

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Website & Social Media Survey!

We would like to know what you think of this website and our social media:
Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn and YouTube

Please take our Survey by June 15!

Members            Non-Members

Now that we can only interact virtually, on-line communication is more important than ever. So, we’ve created a survey to get your feedback on how our website and social media can meet your needs. It shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to fill out (depends on you) and if you include your contact info, you’ll be entered in the survey raffle to win a 2021 Recycling Update (RU) registration or a $100 Community Bikes  gift certificate

Also, please help by sharing the following link with non-member friends interested in recycling, so we can learn how to better reach people with our Zero Waste message:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCRAWebSurvey2020Shared

Our goal is to hear from hundreds if not thousands of people!

Please respond today or by June 15!

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Thank you 2020 Recycling Update Sponsors!

THANK YOU TO OUR 2020 RECYCLING UPDATE SPONSORS!

Sponsorship makes low-cost tickets and scholarships for Zero Waste Week events possible!

GOLD: City of Vallejo, StopWasteNapa Recycling & Waste ServicesCity of NapaSan Francisco Department of the EnvironmentHF&H ConsultantsR3 Consulting GroupRethinkWaste, Alameda County Industries, Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery, Toter, City of Fremont

SILVER: Zero Waste Sonoma, Zero Waste Marin, PSSI/Stanford Recycling, SCS Engineers, Marin Sanitary Service, Ecology Center

BRONZEAmador Valley IndustriesPleasanton Garbage ServiceSouth San Francisco Scavenger, City of LivermoreRecycleMore, Recyclist, Resource Recovery Coalition of California, City of Sunnyvale, City of Stockton, Cascadia Consulting Group, RecycleSmart, Sure-Close

Generous support from our Sponsors provides scholarships and low-cost tickets to students and those that need financial assistance to attend. If you are interested in Sponsorship, please send us a note via the contact page!

LEVELS OF SPONSORSHIP:
Bronze – $500 = 1 ticket
Silver – $1000 = 2 tickets
Gold – $1500 = 4 tickets

BENEFITS OF SPONSORSHIP:

Ticket(s) to the event based on sponsorship level (as outlined above)

–*Special this year* Discounted registration for the National Zero Waste Conference ($55 discount per ticket)

–Your personalized logo on the NCRA website and program

–Sponsors will be formally thanked on stage

–Sponsor logos will be displayed on the screen during both breaks and lunch

–The larger the sponsorship the larger the logo is for placement

–Sponsorships support discounted tickets for job seekers as well as the students’ scholarships

Win!!! Loving Reusables in the Time of COVID

By David Krueger, NCRA President, 7/13/20
Editor’s Note: This is an update of the June 9 article – Loving Reusables in the Time of COVID, in which NCRA  recommended counties be encouraged to revise their SIP Orders to allow reusables with some restrictions, provided the customers and the store follow Cal-OSHA guidelines (pdf),

On March 16, 2020  Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties, plus the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Berkeley issued identical Shelter-in-Place Orders. (APNews, 3/16/20) On March 31, these jurisdictions issued identical updated Orders which banned reusables in retail establishments. These Orders all contained the same language on reusables, found in Appendix A of each Order: Social Distancing Protocol, Measures to Prevent Unnecessary Contact, which is a checklist for businesses to follow and directed to post:

Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home. 

This language was then adopted by other jurisdictions including Napa and Sonoma Counties.

In response, on June 10 NCRA emailed custom letters to more 10 Northern California health officials, asking them to change their Orders to allow reusables again. and encouraging them to use the language from the Mendocino County Order:

Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home that must be handled by employees. Customers bringing their own reusable items that do not require handling by employees is permissible.

To date, Alameda County and Contra Costa County have adopted the Mendocino language allowing reusables, as requested by NCRA.

The City of Berkeley’s Order (which supersedes Alameda County’s) states that “Customers are permitted to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home, but they must not place them on any surfaces” making it difficult to use the items as “surfaces” includes shopping carts.

Santa Clara County’s Order stills says “Do not allow customers to use their own cups or other reusable food containers from home for takeaway”, but allows customers to use their own shopping bags as long as businesses “Require customers using reusable bags from home to bag their own groceries”. On July 1, Napa County adopted the Santa Clara language regarding reusable bags in response to letters from NCRA.

The City and County of San Francisco has stated that they will be revising their Order on July 13 to allow reusable bags “… provided customers follow specified measures to bag their own items and ensure reusable bags do not touch employees or check-out conveyors”.  Santa Cruz County’s Health Officer, Dr. Gail Newel, responded to the NCRA letter that “I am fully supportive and nothing in our local orders or guidance prohibits such practices.”

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Zero Waste Declaration, 2020

ZERO WASTE DECLARATION
Zero Waste International Alliance, 2020

The first Earth Day was 50 years ago. Recycling, its natural industrial child, was envisioned to complete the resource circle, save the wilderness, generate jobs, and build the back end of the GNP all at once.

Now, in 2020, we are ready to establish a collective goal of:

Zero Waste: the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.” ZWIA, updated 2018

This Zero Waste World can be founded on environmental and social justice principles that help create vibrant communities in harmony with nature:

Redesign: Manufacturers can redesign products for highest and best use focusing in on reuse, repair and composting with recycling as a final option.

Ban Wasteful Products: We can ban products that require wasting to compel redesign for durability, repair, composting and recycling.

Source Separation: We could collect all discarded materials and products separated at the source and further sort them into higher quality fractions for reuse, recycling, or composting, with nothing left out and nothing left over.

Resource Recovery Parks: We can build a new worldwide network of resource recovery parks to handle all discards as refined resources.

Advocate: Use our power as advocates and professionals to show what is possible and help policymakers avoid mistakes in meeting the goals that we help them envision.

To achieve a worldwide culture that sustains the planet in perpetuity we stand together!

To sign-on to this declaration, please …

Loving Reusables in the Time of COVID

By David Krueger, NCRA President, 6/9/20
Editors note: Most, but not all of these links are downloadable pdfs.
There has been a lot of confusion lately about whether or not stores and restaurants are allowed to let customers bring their own shopping bags, mugs, or other reusable items. While the State does not prohibit reusables, local jurisdictions are allowed to have COVID-19 regulations that are stricter than the State’s. (Packaging Law, 4/22/20)

On March 16, 2020  Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties, plus the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Berkeley issued identical Shelter-in-Place Orders. (APNews, 3/16/20) These Orders all contained the same language on reusables, found in Appendix A: Social Distancing Protocol, Measures to Prevent Unnecessary Contact, which is a checklist for businesses to follow.  The specific language was: __  Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home.

Relaxed Restrictions
The Shelter-In-Place Orders have been changing rapidly since March, and the Bay Area jurisdictions listed above no longer have identical Orders.

Alameda County, (Page 6) and the City of Berkeley, (Page 7) now state:  “Customers are permitted to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home, but they must not place them on any surfaces.” Stopwaste is seeking clarification from Alameda County and the City of Berkeley regarding the definition of “surfaces” before educating the public about this new Order.

Santa Clara County (Page 4) still says “Do not allow customers to use their own cups or other reusable food containers from home for takeaway”, but allows customers to use their own shopping bags as long as businesses  “Require customers using reusable bags from home to bag their own groceries”.

Still Prohibiting Reusables
Contra Costa County, (Page 2)
Marin County, (Page 6)
Napa County, (Page 2)
San Francisco, (Page 2)
San Mateo County, (Page 2)
Santa Cruz County, (Page 2)
Solano County – TBD
Sonoma County, (Page 3)

NCRA Recommendations and Suggested Actions
NCRA and Californians Against Waste recommend using Mendocino County’s (Attachment A, Page 24) language regarding reusables: “Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home that must be handled by employees. Customers bringing their own reusable items that do not require handling by employees is permissible.”

We also recommend that customers be allowed to bring their own reusable shopping bags as long as the customers and the store follow the Cal-OSHA guidelines for the safe use of reusable bags (pdf):

    • Bags are not placed on conveyor belts or any other area outside of shopping carts.
    • Bags make no contact with employees.
    • Customers bag their own groceries.
    • Customers do not bag groceries in the checkout area if they cannot maintain physical distancing. Groceries can be placed in a cart and bagged elsewhere by the customer.
    • Increase the frequency of disinfection in bagging areas used by customers.

On April 21, 2020 NCRA sent letters to six of the prohibiting jurisdictions listed above encouraging them to allow reusables. On  April 27, 2020, NCRA signed on to the attached letter organized by Upstream Solutions. On June 10, we sent eight letters encouraging the receiptant jurisdiction revise their order as per Mendocino County’s (Attachment A, Page 24) . (See each (NCRA LETTER) in Health Officer List below.

What Can You Do?
1. SHOP WITH REUSABLES

When reusables are “legal” again, shop at establishments that allow them and encourage others to follow. Note that some stores and restaurants may still choose to prohibit reusables even if they are not required to.

Here is bagging advice from Zero Waste Sonoma: However, you can still use reusable bags; just leave them in your vehicle, or if you don’t drive to the store, keep them in a backpack or handbag, and ask the bagger to place groceries directly into the cart at checkout. When you exit the store, transfer items from the cart into your bags. As an extra precaution, wash your bags between uses.

2. WRITE YOUR HEALTH OFFICER
Please write your local health officials to allow reusables again. Encourage them to adopt the Mendocino County Attachment A language. “Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home that must be handled by employees. Customers bringing their own reusable items that do not require handling by employees is permissible.” (See each (NCRA LETTER) in Health Officer List below.

Bay Area Health Officials and Sample Letters
Dr. Erica Pan, Interim Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
Alameda County Public Health Department
1000 Broadway Suite 500, Oakland, CA 94607
510 267-3200, Erica.Pan@acgov.org

Lisa B. Hernandez, MD, MPH, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
City of Berkeley, Health Housing, and Community Services
1947 Center Street, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
510 981-5308, Fax: 510 981 5395, lihernandez@cityofberkeley.info

Christopher Farnitano, MD, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
Contra Costa County Health Services
50 Douglas Drive, Suite 310-A, Martinez, CA 94553
925 957-2679, Chris.Farnitano@hsd.cccounty.us

Matthew Willis, MD, KPH, Public Health Officer and Benita McLarin, Director (NCRA LETTER)
Marin County Health and Human Services
3240 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael, CA 94903
415 473-4163, bmclarin@marincounty.org; mwillis@marincounty.org

Tomás J. Aragón, MD, DrPH, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
San Francisco City and County Department of Public Health
101 Grove Street, Room 308, San Francisco, CA 94102
415 554-2710, tomas.aragon@sfdph.org

Scott Morrow, MD, MPH, Health Officer and Cassius Lockett, Director (SAMPLE LETTER)
San Mateo County Public Health Department (NCRA LETTER)
225 37th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403
650 573-2519, smorrow@smcgov.org; clockett@smcgov.org

Sara H. Cody, MD, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
Santa Clara County Public Health Department
976 Lenzen Avenue, 2nd Floor, San Jose, CA 95126
408 792-3798, sara.cody@phd.sccgov.org

Gail Newel MD, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency
Post Office Box 962, 1080 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95061-0962
831 454-4000, Fax: 831 454-4488, gail.newel@santacruzcounty.us

Dr. Sundari Mase, Interim Health Officer (NCRA LETTER I/P)
Sonoma County Department of Health Services
1450 Neotomas Avenue, Suite 200
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

 

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Conscious Container – 21st Century Bottle Reuse

By Caren McNamara, Founder/CEO, 06/10/20
Refillable/Reusable/Returnable glass bottle systems can deliver an economically viable and environmental impactful solution to reduce single-use bottle packaging waste, as long demonstrated by refillable bottle systems all around the world.

Conscious Container was incorporated as a California Benefit Corporation – B Corp, in early 2017 to create a refillable glass bottle system here in the United States. Over the past 3 years Conscious Container has been conducting ‘proof of concept’ glass bottle collection pilots in Northern California and Northern Nevada. Pilots included an incentive-based drop-off program in Nevada, a donation-based drop-off program and a CRV redemption-based program in Northern California. Becoming a certified ‘Processor’ in the CalRecycle CRV system allowed Conscious Container to pilot with a recycler to separate specific CRV bottle for washing and refilling. These pilots provided insights on how a refillable system could operate while creating strategic partnerships with beverage producers, recyclers, waste haulers, non-profit organizations, policymakers and industry thought leaders.

In the later part of 2019 Conscious Container was asked to present our refillable program at several large industry events, including the Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition member event in Denver. From these events large beverage producers and retailers began to approach Conscious Container to learn more about our refillable business model, several of whom operate refillable/returnable bottle systems in other countries.

One company, Anheuser Busch InBev (ABInBev), encouraged Conscious Container to apply for their 100+ Sustainability Accelerator program. In early 2020 Conscious Container was one of seventeen start-up companies from around the world select to join the Accelerator program to conduct our business solution pilot in 2020. Although the pilot is a bit delayed due to COVID19 requirements, the partners intended to launch a refillable pilot in the San Francisco North Bay hopefully in Q3. Additionally, Conscious Container was honored with an invitation to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 program which allows this innovative start-up a seat at the table to create circular economy solutions with large global producer Foundation members.

Conscious Container’s vision of ‘A World of Reuse Cultures & Economies’ stands out front. And, moving the needle on reducing our single use packaging waste, as many of you know, requires collaboration across many ecosystems. As Conscious Container’s Founder Caren McNamara often states, “Here we go…”.

Here is a short video about Conscious Container’s partnership with the ABInBev 100+ Sustainability Accelerator program.

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Berkeley Moves The Ball Forward For Salvage and Reuse

From left: Urban Ore staff – Elias Soto, Max Wechsler and Jose Luis Soto. Photo by now forgotten City staff person circa 2011.

By Max Wechsler, Operations Manager, Urban Ore Inc., 6/9/20
On June 2, the Berkeley City Council adopted a resolution authorizing the City Manager to extend its contract with Urban Ore for another 3 years!

Importantly, the new contract reinstates the company’s salvage service fee for every ton rescued from the transfer station to be sold for reuse or recycling. The resolution was written by Berkeley’s Department of Public Works and was passed on the consent calendar. It states that, “the new contract will allow the City to continue reduction of landfilling reusable materials and support the City’s Zero Waste Goal to reduce materials to be landfilled”.

Some history: Urban Ore has been salvaging in Berkeley since 1980. In the year 2000, for two main reasons, the City began paying the business for its salvage service. First, the enforcement of AB939 was about to take effect, and the City was incentivized to meet the state’s diversion requirements. Second, Urban Ore was in the middle of a big move to its current location. Councilwoman Linda Maio led Council to label Urban Ore a “Berkeley treasure” and support it both financially and administratively to help it through the move. Various measures were taken, including the invention of the salvage service fee, which is largely credited to Tania Levy, who was working for the Solid Waste Division – now the Zero Waste Division – of the Department of Public Works.

The invention was elegant indeed, recognizing that reuse and recycling aren’t free; these services involve significant labor and capital costs. The City of Berkeley owns and operates its own transfer station. If the City pays X dollars to send one ton of material to the landfill, doesn’t it make sense to pay X dollars to keep the same material out of the landfill? With that in mind, the City began payments in 2000, first at $30 per ton, and then $40 per ton – always slightly less than the landfill disposal fee. This continued until the Great Recession created a budget crisis for the City, and the salvage service fee was removed from the 2012 contract renewal.

Now, eight years later, the salvage service fee has been reinstated, and for the first time ever, the City is paying Urban Ore the exact amount per ton, $47.74, as it is to Waste Management, Inc. for landfill disposal. This is good news not only for Urban Ore, but conceptually, it is a game changer because it recognizes that Zero Waste services deserve at least the same amount of compensation as do Waste services because Zero Waste services create a variety of economic, environmental, and social benefits that wasting does not. Actually, one can quite reasonably make the argument that a Zero Waste service should be paid more than the alternative, but this is a good start! Here is the summary of the benefits that we create, taken from my public comment to City Council:

Economically, the City’s landfill tipping fees decrease proportionally to our salvage service payments, so the direct cost is a wash to the City. However, Urban Ore’s goods and services create interesting economic multiplier effects that landfilling does not. We provide inexpensive, quality goods to our customers, thus saving the local community money and increasing the profit margins for other small businesses. For example, contractors buy lumber and vintage door hardware from us at the lowest prices available—a shameless plug, but true! We also pay out about $100,000 to customers annually, in both cash and store credit, in exchange for dropping off high quality items for us to re-sell. This process recirculates money and goods through the local economy. Little is exported. Furthermore, as a for-profit business, in 2018 we paid $240K in sales tax, $116K in property tax, and $456K in employer’s taxes. In a “normal” non-virus situation, we employ 42 staff, which translates to 31 FTE.

Environmentally, it’s a big win that helps the City reach its Zero Waste goals. In addition to the resources that we salvage at the transfer station, we deal with thousands more tons of materials that are dropped off on our site annually. We also have a crew doing pick-ups from residences and businesses throughout the Bay Area. Our salvaging staff are trained to identify hazardous materials at the transfer station and communicate with City staff to ensure responsible handling.

Last but not least, there are intangible but very real social and community benefits which I have come to appreciate increasingly over the last four years. Urban Ore serves as a stage for a vibrant community of artists, teachers, builders, collectors, environmentalists, hipsters, do-it-yourselfers—you name it! Our customers are from every socioeconomic background and are as diverse as you will find. The 2018 New York Times article “Berkeley on a Budget” ends like this:

‘But the place that captured the Berkeley spirit as much as any place I went was Urban Ore; part salvage yard, part thrift store, it’s one of the most incredible places I’ve visited for recycled and upcycled goods. From clothing to electronics, an entire section of loose doors (yes, doors) and a yard full of toilets and sinks, you can easily spend a few hours there. It’s eclectic, a little chaotic and inimitable — just like Berkeley itself.”

In summary, the question for City Council was: with two equal cost options, how do we want to allocate the enterprise fund? Do we want to allocate it to Urban Ore, which generates all of the aforementioned benefits? Or, do we want to allocate it to the largest owner of landfills in the world, which involves a handful of people and some heavy equipment burying the same materials in a landfill at the headwaters of an upland creek that drains into the San Francisco Bay?

Urban Ore would like to thank the Berkeley City Council, the Berkeley Zero Waste Commission, and the Berkeley Department of Public Works, particularly Phil Harrington, Greg Apa and Heidi Obermeit. On the resolution, the list of WHEREAS’s really knocks the ball out of the park, including, “WHEREAS, Urban Ore’s proven safety record, environmental commitment, and quality customer service have made them a vital zero waste partner; and… WHEREAS, the Urban Ore salvage program is a Strategic Plan Priority Project that advances our goal to be a global leader in addressing climate change, advancing environmental justice, and protecting the environment”.

We look forward to continuing our pioneering and renowned private-public partnership for generations to come.

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