Alameda County Food Bank – Big Slices of the Food Recovery Pie

By NCRA Food Waste Reduction Committee
For our report, Commercial Food Waste Reduction in Alameda County, we documented the amount of surplus food that was rescued and distributed in Alameda County. We estimated that about 5.7 million pounds of surplus food that was generated within the county was redistributed to feed hungry people in Alameda County in 2016.

A major player is the Alameda County Community Food Bank. As we documented in our report, the Food Bank runs the grocery rescue or Food Recovery Program which matches grocery stores to agencies (like food pantries) that distribute the surplus food (like individually wrapped salads, sandwiches, produce and food staples). Over 3.6 million pounds of food from over 100 donors was redistributed through the grocery rescue program in 2016. This grew to over 4 million pounds in 2017.

Since we published our report in July 2017, we learned about other sources of surplus food obtained by the Food Bank.

The Food Bank receives donations from large manufacturers and retail distributors, some of which might otherwise have been disposed. The Local Donation Program from Distributors and Manufacturers accounts for over 25% of the food that they distribute. This compares to about 12% from the grocery rescue program.The Local Donation Program has grown by 2.2 million pounds over the last two years, with last fiscal year totaling 6.2 million pounds.  About 40% of this product is produce, and overall, it consists of a fair mix of dry goods, fresh bread/tortillas, fresh dairy, fresh juice, frozen product (meat, meals, etc.). The Food Bank works with about 20 donation partners throughout the county weekly, and averages about 630,000 pounds of surplus food redistributed per month.

About 45% of the food that the Food Bank distributes comes from the California Association of Food Banks Farm to Family Program which distributed 164 million pounds of surplus produce to 43 food banks statewide and partnered with more than 135 farmers to access 44 different crops (which might otherwise have been wasted or ploughed under). This surplus food is generated outside of Alameda County, but feeds hungry people in county and throughout the state.

Senate Bill 1383 requires local jurisdictions to up the ante on food rescue and ensure that 20% of currently disposed edible food is recovered for human consumption in 2025. As the state identifies priorities for food rescue, it will need to consider the role of the large, traditional sources of surplus food (farms, manufacturers, and distributors) compared to the smaller, more difficult-to-address sources of surplus food (such as restaurants, schools, corporate cafeterias, and caterers).

Thank you Caroline Chow, Food Resource Development Coordinator, Alameda County Community Food Bank for contributing to this piece.

 

AB 319 Passes ASM NR Committee, Full Court Press for Full Assembly

The “Connect the Cap” (formerly “Leash the Lid”) bill, AB 319 (Stone), passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee January 8, 7 Ayes – 3 Noes, and now it’s going to the Assembly Floor! Please let your Assembly representative  know you support of this groundbreaking effort to reduce plastic pollution and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of birds and animals. For the AB 319 Toolkit visit the Albatross Coalition or click the logo above. Click here for the 2017 AB 319 Fact Sheet.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY DOING SOMETHING EASY
By John Douglas Moore, Co-Chair, NCRA Zero Waste Advocacy Committee
AB 319 has passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee to the full floor where it must pass by January 31. This bill failed to make its way through last year. CAW believes that the bill is likely to fail in the Assembly again this year unless some votes switch sides.

Experience suggests that a phone call to a legislator, which is logged by the office as “for” or “against” is more effective than emails and letters, especially form letters or online petitions.

Please call and register your support for AB 319. Below is a list of the greater Bay Area assembly members and the phone numbers for their district offices. Feel free to also contact legislators from outside the Bay Area. An online roster can also be found at assembly.gov:

Greater Bay Area Assembly Members

Catherine Baker, 925 328-1515
Marc Berman, 650 691-2121
Rob Bonta, 510 286-1670
David Chiu, 415 557-3013
Kansen Chu, 408 262-2501
Susan Talamantes Eggmann, 209 948-7479
Timothy Grayso, 925 521-1511
|Ash Kalra, 408 277-1220
Marc Levine, 707 576-2631
Evan Low, 408 446-2810
Kevin Mullin, 650 349-2200
Bill Quirk, 510 583-8818
Tony Thurmond, 510 286-1400
Philip Ting, 415 557-2312

Official Retraction of Editor’s AD Article Note

In the December 2017 NCRA Newsletter (Dec 7), there appeared a Members Showcase article entitled, “The AD Lawsuit you may not know about” by Arthur Boone, that discussed a lawsuit challenging the appropriateness of the CEQA approval of Waste Management of Alameda County’s anaerobic digestion facility to be sited in San Leandro and involving StopWaste and the City of San Leandro. The Editor’s Note suggests that “This is an issue that NCRA members should be discussing, debating and perhaps joining in the lawsuit.”

The phrasing of the Editor’s Note seems to suggest NCRA is encouraging others get involved in or support the lawsuit. This simply is not the case. The lawsuit and the arguments therein have been brought before the board several times during Board Meetings and Zero Waste Advocacy Committee meetings. Due to lack of consensus, the Board very specifically has NOT taken any position on this lawsuit. For our newsletter to suggest otherwise is misleading, harmful and simply not correct. We deeply apologize for any confusion the Editor’s Note may have caused and are seeking to set the record straight through this formal correction that NCRA has not taken a position on the lawsuit and is not encouraging others to join the lawsuit or get involved in any way at this time.

 

Recycling Update 2018 Speakers!

Over 20 presenters will inform and inspire the 23rd Annual Recycling Update conference.  Not all speaker bios and synopses have been submitted to NCRA yet, but here are quite a few in alphabetical order to whet your appetite!  See our ZWW/Recycling Update page under our Activities Tab to register for RU and to see our first reveals of the activities being planned for the annual Zero Waste Week.

David Allaway, Senior Policy Analyst, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.  David will address Oregon’s efforts to move up the hierarchy with a focus on reducing wasted food, reuse/repair, and the built environment; Oregon’s transition to sustainable materials management; and the development of new statewide systems to measure progress towards broad sustainability goals that include – but go beyond – traditional weight-based waste recovery metrics.

Ric Anthony, Principal, Richard Anthony Associates, “Why Bottle Caps?” – Bottle caps are one of the most frequent plastic items found in coastal cleanups. There is need to bring the producers these products and packages to the World table to draft Zero Waste responsibility plans for proper management of discarded plastic via redesign for recyclability, buyback purchasing opportunities (closed circle), and recovery campaigns for vagrant plastics on land and sea. In ten minutes I will discuss the science and the campaign which includes legislative action to force the redesign to leash the lid, a lawsuit to fund the cleanup and a public education campaign that includes returning the caps found in coastal cleanups back to the producer.

Nicole Bassett, Co-Founder, The Renewal Workshop, “Enabling a Circular Economy for Apparel” – The reason we have waste in the apparel industry is the design of the industry itself. The Renewal Workshop leverages technology, systems thinking and marketplace drivers to start to evolve the industry towards a more regenerative model where resources are wisely used.

Will Bakx, Soil Scientist/Owner, Sonoma Compost Company, “It Ain’t Over until the “Overs” have a Home” – When making finished compost or mulch, ‘overs’ are screened off to create a clean, uniform marketable product.  The ‘overs’ are the coarser woody fraction that used to go to biofuel plants for green energy.  As biofuel plants are shutting down or raising the bar on what products they accept, Woodageddon has arrived.  Or, Chunky Mulch is here.  Clean up your ‘overs’ and return all organics to the soil.  Mulch: the obstacles and the solutions.

Erin Cooke, Sustainability Director, San Francisco International Airport and Jennifer Acton, Environmental Operations Manager, San Francisco International Airport, “Achieving Zero: SFO’s Journey” – San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO or the Airport) has established the bold, Strategic Plan goal, of becoming the world’s first zero-waste Airport by 2021. In setting this target, our Airport asks the question of “how low can we go?” within its 14 million square foot campus materials system. To accomplish this bold goal, SFO drafted its first Airport Zero Waste Plan, which sets a pathway to respond to this question and achieve this goal. The Airport’s key implementation leads will walk attendees through SFO’s approach and gain feedback, from you, on what approaches will help our campus reach zero.

Sharon Daraphonhdeth, Interim Director of the Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC) at the University of California Berkeley, “UC Berkeley Students Make Zero Waste Possible” – UC Berkeley is committed to reaching zero waste by 2020. Sharon will be presenting on the major accomplishments, created and implemented by students on campus. She will touch on the importance and power of student leaders, and how they are shaping the conversation and paving the way towards zero waste.

Mikhail Davis, Director of Restorative Enterprise, Interface, “Making Closed Loop Carpet a Reality” – For nearly 25 years, Interface has been grappling with the challenge of making their new carpet tiles from old carpet, with many setbacks and breakthroughs along the way.  Mikhail will discuss the Interface journey to make carpet to carpet recycling a technical and economic reality and how and why they decided to break with the carpet industry in 2017 and support the passage of AB 1158, the nation’s first EPR law for carpet.

Adam Gendell, Associate Director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, “The State of Sustainable Packaging” – This presentation gives an overview of the most current understanding of packaging sustainability, including industry trends, regulatory happenings, and hot topics in sustainable packaging. Learn about the latest news and hear about the industry-facing work of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

Zoe Heller, Assistant Director of Policy Development, CalRecycle – The export of recyclable material is a key component of California’s recycling infrastructure.  China’s import restriction is resulting in less recyclable materials leaving California, creating opportunities and challenges for how we manage our materials domestically.

Alexandra Lalor, “Lessons Learned from Zero Waste Youth Brazil” – From Brazil to the United States, people are coming together and collaborating to create a zero waste world. Representatives from Zero Waste Youth USA will share their experiences from attending the Brazil Zero Waste Youth conference, including challenges we face, similarities we share, and connections we’ve made as we continue to build an international zero waste movement.

Jack Macy, Commercial Zero Waste Senior Coordinator, San Francisco Dept. of Environment, “San Francisco Upgrades MRF And Expands Materials Recycled” – San Francisco made major upgrades at Recology’s Recycle Central @ Pier 96 to increase the types of materials recovered, improve quality and reduce residual. These upgrades, along with efforts to reduce plastic in compostables and pursue the highest and best use of resources, resulted in San Francisco moving paper cups and cartons from composting into recycling, as well as moving aseptic cartons and plastic film from trash to recycling. Hear how these changes were made, and the latest status and results of the in-progress 2-year citywide rollout of outreach along with smaller trash and larger recycling bins, while addressing recent challenging market conditions.

Patrick Mathews, Salinas Valley Recycles, “Organics Management Planning in the Salinas Valley, the Perfect Storm” – The presentation will overview the expansion of SVR’s Organics Management Program and how we will utilize the $1.34 million grant awarded by CalRecycle under their Greenhouse Gas Reduction, Organics Grant Program for 2016-17.  The topics will include selected technology review, Ag waste recovery, collections, and food recovery and distribution in the Salinas Valley.  The discussion will also outline the unique organics “perfect storm” SVR is planning for in the near future: increased organics recovery, cannabis wastes, and growing challenges for the cattle feedstock (culls) markets.

Kelly McBee, Policy Analyst, Californians Against Waste, “Preserving California’s Bottle Bill” – California’s unique beverage container recycling law was enacted in 1987 and is one of the largest and most successful Bottle Bill programs in North America.  However, over the last few years, unsustainable losses of revenue for recyclers has led to the closing of hundreds of bottle buyback centers, denying California the full scope of the program’s greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits and others. Kelly will discuss opportunities for comprehensive program reform, legislative efforts to date, and next steps.

Terry McDonald, DR3 Mattress Recycling, and Saint Vincent de Paul Lane County

John Moore, Legal Counsel, NCRA, “Winning Isn’t Everything” – Presentation will discuss three local litigation cases from the past year.

Kate O’Neill, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, “The Global (and Local) Impacts of China’s Scrap Ban” – This presentation addresses the unfolding impacts of China’s crackdown on scrap imports, with an emphasis on scrap plastics. I trace out implications for California, the US and the rest of the world, and discuss the many different options currently on the table.

Kerry Parker, Recycling Specialist, City of Alameda, and Samantha Sommer, Waste Prevention Program Manager, Rethink Disposable, “Straws-on-Request, and ReThink Disposable: Unpackaging Alameda Initiative” – The City of Alameda, now implementing a new law that bans plastic straws and other single-use plastics, has found itself suddenly in the midst of ongoing arguments regarding the branding of that whipped coffee drink everyone loves; responding to tough questions like whether or not something deemed “compostable” or “recyclable” actually is, and finding the way through tricky policy-making where most disposable single-use plastic food ware is now banned in the small island city.  Find out about how Alameda’s partnership with Clean Water Action’s ReThink Disposable program to create a demonstration project to “unpackage” a Bay Area community has brought expertise, resources, and technical assistance to hundreds of island businesses, and supports the city’s ambitious source reduction policy to keep our coastlines and bays free from plastics and other debris.

Jerame Rentaria

Nicole Tai, CEO, GreenLynx – Nicole will discuss the growth of GreenLynx, which started in 2013 as a deconstruction coordination group and has grown into a full service reclaimed materials company with a Woodworks, Retail Store, Deconstruction service, and Green Building division. GreenLynx opened its store in Santa Rosa in August 2017 and is currently expanding to include reclaimed furniture and finish products, a reclaimed lumber retail and receiving yard, and on-site pickups of reclaimed lumber. Nicole Tai will also briefly discuss the recent Deconstruction Workshop GreenLynx hosted along with the EPA, and the amazing group formed out of this gathering.

Monica Wilson, US and Canada Program Director, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), “Recycling is Not Enough:Findings from our Global Plastic Recycling Research Project” – Working with organizations in China, Southeast Asia, EU, and US, GAIA’s research project on plastic recycling found that as exports increase to Southeast Asia processing may increase by the informal recycling sector, which would have environmental and health impacts on workers and surrounding communities. We also found that international plastic recycling trade transparency is nearly nonexistent and that stronger coordinated action needs to be taken by governments and other actors to curb the overproduction and consumption of plastic.

StopWaste Response to NCRA eNews “Member Showcase” AD Article

By Wendy Sommer, Executive Director, Alameda County Waste Management Authority (AKA StopWaste)
I was surprised to see the “Showcase” article in your December eNews about a lawsuit that names our organization. It certainly makes sense for NCRA members to discuss and debate critical issues, but a suggested call to consider joining the lawsuit from the editor seems out of place when NCRA’s Board has not taken a position on it. Dialogue is important, but it does requires more than one voice, so we now feel the need to weigh in on the article and clarify/correct some of the statements made.

The lawsuit pertains to the Organics Recovery Project, which is a part of the Davis Street Transfer Station Master Plan. Much of the project is necessary for Waste Management to comply with requirements set forth in their franchise with the City of Oakland, ensuring that Oakland material placed in landfill does not contain organics. The project is not designed, nor is it adequately scaled, to replace Oakland’s universal and mandatory source separation services. Unlike the existing structure at the transfer station that is only partially enclosed, the new state-of-the-art facility will be fully enclosed with rapid roll-down doors, negative air pressure and biofilters.

The City of San Leandro as the lead agency under CEQA adopted an Initial Study/Negative Declaration and approved the project in 2011, without receiving any objections. The Alameda County Waste Management Authority’s (ACWMA) discrete role as a responsible agency under CEQA was to amend the Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan to include the project location and description. ACWMA required Waste Management to comply with all conditions imposed by the City of San Leandro and other regulatory agencies, including the Local Enforcement Agency and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. ACWMA reviewed the facts and followed the process as required by law. We do not have control over the project’s design, nor influence over city franchise agreement requirements.

The lawsuit alleges that the ACWMA did not comply with CEQA because it did not perform or require additional environmental review. Petitioners Boone and Stein refused to understand that CEQA requires additional environmental review ONLY IF 1. A project will have new and significant adverse environmental impact, AND 2. Those impacts result from new information, changed circumstances, or substantial changes to the project that occurred after completion of the prior environmental review. ACWMA staff independently evaluated Waste Management’s proposal, requested additional documentation and clarification, and concluded that there is no evidence showing that there will be new significant impacts requiring additional environmental review. There are no substantial changes to the project, no new information, and no changed circumstances since San Leandro’s 2011 approval.

The next steps on this issue will be played out in court. For those who are interested, all the documents filed with the court, including ACWMA’s detailed response to the plaintiffs’ brief are available at the Alameda County Superior Court website: https://publicrecords.alameda.courts.ca.gov/PRS/Case/SearchByCaseNumber. The Case Number is RG17858423. We feel that the lawsuit is unnecessary, and a waste of time and resources to defend, so we hope it is resolved soon.