Zero Waste Week 2018 East Bay Recycling Facility Tour Report

WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL THAT STUFF WE DISCARD?
By Nik Balachandran, Co-founder and CEO, Zabble Inc.
On March 21, an unusually cold and rainy March morning, a bunch of us gathered at the Oakland BART station for the East Bay Facility Tour. We were met by NCRA Board Members and Activities Committee members Alexandra Bradley, Tim Dewey-Mattia and Hilary Near, and staff Juliana Gerber, who drove us there and back through the pouring rain and fed us bagels and other tasty Recycling Update leftovers. Highest and best use!

We visited Independent Recycling Services, DR3 Mattress Recycling and Davis Street Resource Recovery Complex and Transfer Station. Bio-Link Depot, which gives surplus lab supplies and equipment to schools, was also to be on the tour but was closed that day.

The first stop was Independent Recycling Services, a construction debris recovery facility on San Leandro St. in Oakland. We were greeted by the foreman, Billy, who was very courteous in showing us around and explaining daily operations. The facility accepts wood, metals, concrete, plastic, brick, glass, asphalt, gypsum and miscellaneous debris. They do not accept household or hazardous waste.

On a typical day a truck with construction material drives over the scales to weigh the load. The truck then dumps the contents in a common area. The truck is then weighed again on the way out. The difference is used to calculate the tipping costs. A receipt is then furnished with the tonnage disposed and percentage of diversion from landfill, if available. Multiple sorters sift through the pile to pull out valuable materials like uncontaminated concrete, wood (2×4, 2×6…), etc. to add to sorted piles. The management then finds alternative end markets for these goods. The unusable material ends up in a residual discard area. NCRA members had many questions and Billy saw to it that he answered every one of them. One of the members was even able to salvage a perfectly good looking functional piece of furniture.

The second stop was DR3 Mattress Recycling in Oakland. DR3 is a California-based mattress recycling company founded in 1999. They have 3 locations (Oakland, Stockton and Woodland) where they accept drop-offs. They also offer pickup for commercial accounts.

A mattress has 4 recyclable material types; steel, foam, cotton and wood. At DR3, employees place individual mattresses on a waist high platform and disassemble them by hand, also known as deconstruction, in order to maximize the quality of the extracted materials. With this process, DR3 claims that they can recycle 80-90% of a mattress. They then sell bales of clean material. DR3 processes around 800 – 1,000 mattresses a month.

The NCRA group enjoyed taking part in an impromptu competition for the fastest deconstruction times where members took turns completely taking apart a mattresses. Overall, we took with us a good understanding of the different components in mattress recycling.

After that we made a brief stop at the San Leandro Habitat For Humanity ReStore, the nonprofit home improvement store that sells donated new and used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances at a discounted price. We roamed around the store and explored their offerings. It was a good reminder to donate before discard if possible.

Our last stop was at the Waste Management’s Davis Street Resource Recovery Complex and Transfer Station (DTST), one of the most sophisticated material recovery facilities in the country. We met with C&D Diversion Manager, Erika-Alexandra Solis and her team who graciously gave us a tour of the 10 acre facility. (We also learned that Ms. Solis was a recipient of the 40 under 40 Award at this year’s Waste Expo.) NCRA organizers treated us to more delicious leftovers and Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches. Jay Ramos, Sr. District Manager also talked with us for a short while on the plan to sort residuals.

DSTS accepts organics, C&D, recyclables, bulky items like appliances, mattresses, tires, reusable items such as household goods – which are sent to St. Vincent De Paul and trash which is sent to Altamont Landfill in Livermore. Random audits are conducted at different stages to flag inappropriate or contaminated items in the different streams. Materials that cannot be recovered for reuse, recycling or composting are headed to the Altamont Landfill in Livermore. A Waste Management Earth Care Center is located within the premises offers compost and mulch in multiple dyes for professional and household use. It was mentioned that the MRF recycling rate at the facility is 75%.

On my way back in the BART, I reflected about the complexities of the discard management system with all the different material types, their respective handling process and end markets, only for a new cycle to begin. The rain had now abated and the sun was pushing its way through the dark clouds. Perhaps, it’s just a co-incidence that this intricate system made more sense now.

For more info here are Waste Management Davis Street Resource Recovery Complex view these YouTube videos:

Zero Food Waste Forum: Call For Papers – Due 6/15

The Northern California Recycling Association and Solid Waste Association of North American are hosting the 2018 Zero Food Waste Forum on World Food Day. Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 in Berkeley, CA. The Call For Papers is now open and ends June 15.

The Forum will help local jurisdictions comply with Senate Bill 1383, which requires California to reduce edible food going to landfills by 20% by 2025. The Forum will profile successful policies and programs in food waste prevention and reduction and edible food repurposing and recovery, highlight regional and statewide examples and provide a forum for “disruptive” approaches to reduce wasted food and feed hungry people. Interested in getting involved? If you are interested in serving on the committee or being a sponsor, contact the Committee.

 

Fodder For Thought: Recovering Food and Feeding Animals

By Food Waste Reduction Committee Members, Susan Miller Davis, Infinite Table and Susan Blachman, Blachman Consulting
According to the US EPA food recovery hierarchy, after prevention and feeding humans comes feeding animals. Below are some places in Northern California that accept food for animals.

 The Oakland Zoo, home to more than 700 animals and dedicated to conservation, is a unique local resource for food recovery in Alameda County.  The Zoo has the potential to use a large quantity and variety of foods, including meat, bones, excess bread and bakery goods, and imperfect produce, which may not be suitable for human consumption.

According to a 2012 article, the zoo spends over $300,000 annually on feed.  A single tiger eats 10 bones and 15 pounds of meat daily, and an 11,000-pound bull elephant eats 100 pounds of “browse” or vegetation each day.  The park is about to expand significantly, opening the new “California Trail” exhibit which will feature several large species like bison and bears and scavengers like condors, which could open up new donation possibilities.  The Zoo currently works with a number of donors according to specific donation guidelines, and hosts an annual  Feast for the Beasts event, this year on July 28, inviting the public to feed the elephants breakfast using donated produce.

Tiny Farms is an agricultural technology company headquartered in San Leandro. The company is building high-efficiency modular cricket farms, and producing cricket powder for human and animal food. They are currently hatching about 1 million crickets per month in their San Leandro facility and are experimenting with substituting recovered food such as stale bread and sturdy vegetables (e.g. root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. that may be softening or sprouting but are not yet rotting), for some of their animal feed as a way to reduce their business’ environmental impact.

They believe there is the potential to replace as much as half of their cricket feed with recovered food. And they’ve just recently begun supplying Oaktown Crickets with seasoned fried crickets in snack packs and as a salad topper at the Oakland Coliseum.

O2 Artisans Aggregate, O2AA, an eco-industrial park located in West Oakland, is home to a network of artisans and enterprises working collectively to develop and promote environmentally progressive projects. The systems created at O2 enable tenants and the community to utilize alternative energy and reduce and up-cycle various waste-streams.

The Perennial Farming Initiative has an aquaponic greenhouse facility which uses organic material, other than wood chips, compostable utensils and putrid material.  In the closed-loop system, that organic material is fed to fish, the fish waste is then used to fertilize plants on hydroponic rafts and the plants are harvested for consumption.  Other organic material, not easily composted (onions, citrus, bones), is fed to worms that in turn feed the fish.  O2 Feeds is a new on-site initiative upcycling food waste, including wet and dry grains, okara (a waste by-product from a local tofu manufacturer) and tortilla chips, to create a sustainable animal feed.

Livestock farming is concentrated in the eastern part of Alameda County – for more information see the Alameda Farm Bureau.  There are several large operations in nearby counties that accept excess food.

M-R Ranch is a 200-cow operation near Sacramento that takes material from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, including stale bread, spent grain, chocolate, oatmeal and old produce such as onions, potatoes, and cilantro.

Devil’s Gulch Ranch, a diversified family farm located in Nicasio, Marin County, within California’s North Coast region, raising rabbits, pigs, sheep, premium wine grapes and asparagus for retail customers and direct sales to restaurants. They accept donations of brewer’s grains, milk, bread and tortillas for their pigs.

To find other farms in and around Alameda County that will accept food waste:

  • Post material on CropMobster, an online community-based exchange system for trade and exchange within the food and agricultural space. CropMobster SF Bay is focused on providing a locally based community for hunger relievers, tackling food waste and building a “farm-to-fork” economy in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Talk to animal farmers at Alameda County farmers markets

Please let us know if you are aware of other animal operations that accept recovered food.

Burn Them, Burn Them All

Burn Them, Burn Them All [1]

By John D. Moore, NCRA Vice President and Legal Counsel, Henn, Etzel & Moore, Inc.

CA Department Of Public Health Enjoined From Enforcing Restriction On Medical Waste Crossing State Lines. Does new ruling impact Al Co drug take back ordinance?

The Commerce Clause of the US Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 8) has an odd relationship to the field of solid waste. In 1978 the US Supreme Court issued its first decision since 1905 that related to garbage and found that solid waste was an “article of commerce” covered by the Commerce Clause [2] .

The Commerce Clause reserves to Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce; the purpose being to preserve a “Union” and guard against state “protectionist” laws. The 1979 case involved a state (New Jersey) passing a law forbidding the importation of solid waste into that state; a law passed because of dwindling landfill space there, a situation then existing in many East Coast states. The Supreme Court struck down the New Jersey law finding that “solid waste” is an “article of commerce” that New Jersey improperly regulated. The Court did not say exactly what about the nature of solid waste makes it an “article of commerce”. [3]

By labeling “solid waste” an article of commerce, the Court later struck down laws where local government commanded that solid waste be disposed of only at a facility directed by the local government. [4] The Court later modified its holding to allow local government to direct solid waste to facilities owned and operated by the local government. [5]

The Commerce Clause was applied to Alameda County’s pharmaceutical take back ordinance, and held constitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. [6] An intrastate limitation on the import of solid waste was held constitutional by the Solano County Superior Court. [7] A state case found that the Commerce Clause did not preclude an exclusive solid waste franchise arrangement in Pleasant Hill, CA. [8]

Last week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a portion of the state of California’s laws, as applied by Cal DPH, regulating the disposal of medical waste, on Commerce Clause grounds. Again, the Court did not examine why medical waste is an “article of commerce” and both it and the parties assumed that it was.

Under California law, medical waste collected within the state must be incinerated, and, if transported out of state, must be “consigned to a permitted medical waste facility in the receiving state. [9]

The plaintiff in the case operated a permitted medical waste transfer station in Fresno, where it received medical waste collected by an affiliated company. Because there was not a permitted medical waste incinerator in California, the plaintiff transported the medical waste first to an incinerator in Maryland. Then, to reduce disposal expenses, the plaintiff began transporting the medical waste to facilities in Kentucky and Indiana for “autoclave” and “thermal deactivation” treatment permitted in those states. Both of these processes involve heating the medical waste; it does not appear that anyone argued that these processes are de facto incineration under state law.

Cal DPH then threatened the plaintiff with fines, taking the position that medical waste shipped out of state still must be incinerated. The only statutory support for this position is when the “receiving state” does not have a permitted facility, in which case the medical waste must be incinerated. (Where that could be is an unresolved question.) But the plaintiff’s medical waste was taken to permitted facilities in Kentucky and Indiana.

Plaintiff filed suit in US District Court and obtained a preliminary injunction against the state, forbidding imposition of penalties or other regulatory action by Cal DPH. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction stating

“Were it otherwise, California could purport to regulate the use or disposal of any item—product or refuse—everywhere in the country if it had its origin in California. The district court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that Daniels was likely to succeed on the merits and enjoined the Department officials from “enforcing the MWMA against Daniels’s out-of-state waste disposal.”

The Ninth Circuit treated this as a clear case of violating the Commerce Clause, as it considered Alameda County’s pharma ordinance to not impair interstate commerce. The Ninth Circuit did not comment on the difference between the statute requiring out of state treatment of medical waste at a permitted facility and Cal DPH’s interpretation of this statute. From experience I can relate that there often are facts in a case on appeal that the parties deem pertinent, where the Court does not share this view.

Hopefully the technology for safe disposal of medical waste will provide a solution besides incineration, possibly by the field of fungi-based  mycoremediation. Please continue looking to this column to report on new applications of the Commerce Clause to solid waste and recyclable material.

And if you have read all the way to the end, please send me an email at jmoore@recyclelaw so I can tell if these legal articles are worth publishing in the NCRA News.

[1] Game of Thrones quoting the last words of Aegon Targaryen, King of Westeros

[2] Philadelphia v. New Jersey (1978) 437 US 617, 622-623

[3] Indeed, if the California Supreme Court was right in saying that “solid waste” was something valueless that an owner paid to dispose, how could something valueless, like solid waste, be an “article of commerce”. See Waste Management of the Desert v. Palm Springs Recycling Center (1994) 7 Cal.4th 478

[4].C & A Carbone v. Town of Clarkstown (1994),511 U.S. 383

[5] United Haulers Ass’n v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth., 550 U.S. 330, 344 (2007)

[6] Pharm. Research & Mfrs. of Am. v. County of Alameda (9 Cir. 2014) 768 F.3d 1037

[7] NCRA v. County of Solano case no. FCS03687 Judgment entered May 30, 2009

[8] Waste Mgmt. of Alameda Cty. Inc. v. Biagini Waste Reduction Sys., Inc. (1988) 63 Cal. App. 4th 1488

[9] Health and Safety Code Section 118000(c)

 

New Horizons In Food Rescue Around California

By Food Waste Reduction Committee Members, Susan Miller Davis, Infinite Table and Susan Blachman, Blachman Consulting
In 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1383 which, among other things, requires 20 percent of edible food that is currently disposed in landfills and incinerators to be recovered for human consumption by 2025. CalRecycle is holding workshops on May 7 and 8 to share draft regulatory language with which local jurisdictions will have to comply, to discuss the implementation process and solicit feedback. Although the regulations will not take effect until 2022, they will be adopted in 2019 to allow regulated entities approximately three years to plan and implement necessary budgetary, contractual, and other programmatic changes.

Local jurisdictions are beginning to mobilize resources – here are a few examples of local efforts underway:

Los Angeles: The City of Los Angeles has incorporated food recovery into its new franchise agreement. Under the agreement, the haulers are required to partner with local non-profit organizations to set up Food Rescue and Materials Reuse Programs. In exchange for recovery services and estimates of tonnage recovered, each hauler is obligated to donate to their subcontracted reuse organizations at least $1,000 per 100 customers in their service zones.  The exact amount given to each organization and the tonnages recovered or services provided in exchange is negotiated between each hauler and nonprofit individually. The program began January 2018.

Alameda County: ALL IN Alameda County is an innovation incubator within county government, a multi-stakeholder collaborative, working together to end poverty. One goal of All In is to establish a professionalized, paid food recovery sector, including job training. Towards that end, All In will be rolling out a 3 month food rescue pilot using two refrigerated vehicles purchased by the county.  Drivers will be recruited and hired from Peralta Service Corporation (PSC), the Unity Council’s social enterprise, and trained by the County Environmental Health Department on safe food handling. The program will recover food (fresh produce) from local farmers’ markets and deliver it to two recipient organizations: the Unity Council and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates. The plan is to continue the program once the three months is up, and including evaluating how the project can be sustained.

Silicon Valley: Silicon Valley Food Rescue (SVFR), a joint venture initiative of Santa Clara County and Joint Venture Silicon Valley, is working to supplement existing food recovery and hunger relief efforts with its planned “A La Carte” pilot, which will recover prepared food from currently untapped sources and also deliver food to insecure residents in new, more convenient ways.   According to SVFR, A La Carte, which will pilot in the summer of 2018, is “a trendy looking food truck that will rescue surplus pre-packaged food from corporate and university campuses and deliver the food directly into neighborhoods where people in need have limited access to food.”  SVFR hopes to expand the pilot to cover the entire county.  The trucks do not contain cooking and washing facilities, so are designed to distribute pre-packaged food only.  According to SVFR, “the program is designed to offer a normal, dignified experience to those struggling to feed themselves and their families, always free of cost.”

City of San Diego: In order to help achieve the City of San Diego’s goal of achieving “Zero Waste” by 2040, the City has established a Food Waste Diversion Program which has diverted approximately 8,000 tons of food waste from the City’s landfill to date. Under this program, the 34 largest food providers donate food to local food banks; donors include the San Diego Convention Center, Airport, Zoo and Safari Park, and SeaWorld, along with several schools and universities. Many other sites also donate their surplus food. Donations represent approximately 8,000 meals per week. City staff’s experience indicated that the best way to overcome barriers to source reduction and food donation is to show businesses how much and what types of food they were sending to organics diversion via composting.

And…Food for Free provides out-of-state inspiration
Food for Free is a food rescue and redistribution non-profit operating in the Boston area since 1981.  Recently, in response to growing demand from local businesses seeking to donate prepared foods to comply with the 2014 statewide commercial food material disposal ban (similar to SB 1383), Food for Free introduced a prepared meals program.

The Food for Free kitchen processes about 900 lbs of donated, bulk frozen food per week, mostly from local university campus kitchens.  The team has developed a process for breaking down the frozen food into individual meals, similar to tv dinners, which are packaged, sealed and labeled, and then distributed to a number of recipient hunger relief agencies.  The meals have the advantage of being convenient for families and other food insecure residents – those living in SROs, hotels or couch surfing; the elderly; students – who have limited kitchen access or other barriers to cooking, as they can be easily heated in a microwave.

Program manager Fiona Crimmins describes the challenges of working with frozen product – the team has developed methods of breaking down the food that involves chisels, and can only work with food that separates in a manageable and appetizing way – but also the benefits in terms of extending the timeline for distributing the food.  Similar programs on the Tufts and Harvard campuses, fueled by student volunteers, are processing surplus campus cafeteria food into individual, refrigerated meals for easy distribution.

Zero Food Waste Forum – Coming Fall 2018
To learn more about model food recovery programs and prepare for compliance with Senate Bill 1383, consider attending the NCRA 2018 Zero Food Waste Forum this fall in the Bay Area.

If you are interested in serving on the steering committee or becoming a sponsor, contact Ruth Abbe at Ruth.Abbe@gmail.com.