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.

California Carpet Update, 2/2018

By Joanne Brasch, PhD, Special Project Manager, California Product Stewardship Council
On October 14, 2017, Governor Brown signed AB 1158, legislation sponsored by the National Stewardship Action Council, an affiliate of the California Product Stewardship Council, which made significant changes to the Carpet Stewardship program goals and structure. The new legislation required CalRecycle to appoint a Carpet Stewardship Program Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on carpet stewardship plans, plan amendments, and annual reports. All documents, including meeting agendas and minutes, are available on the official Advisory Committee web page. After several long and productive meetings, the Committee sent a letter on February 12, to CalRecycle and the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) outlining their comments and recommendations on the draft carpet stewardship plan proposed submitted on January 8, 2018. In the letter, the committee provided 21 recommended changes to the draft plan, listed in priority order.

The committee followed protocols to comply with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act as they discussed and voted on each recommendation, ensuring transparency and giving the public opportunity to comment. These recommendations aim to expand the carpet recycling program in California to provide adequate program funding, improve recycling infrastructure and subsidies, and drive markets for carpet materials. The committee requested the author of AB 1158, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, to provide clarification regarding his intent for the definition of recyclability. The author’s definition was incorporated into a new, more comprehensive metric of recyclability, which includes measurements of carpet deconstruction and material separation, ease of collection, cost-effectiveness, post-recycling material performance, and toxic components. Assemblymember Chu’s letter of intent for the definition of “recyclability” will in turn affect the grant and subsidy program, which by law prioritizes products that have the highest recyclability to ensure the carpet stewardship program incentivizes greener design.

CARE has until March 16 to resubmit an amended stewardship plan to CalRecycle, which will then review and develop staff recommendations on whether the plan should be approved at the May 15th public hearing. If anyone would like to get involved, there will be more opportunities for the public to provide comments and questions. The public can email carpet@calrecycle.ca.gov to get on the committee’s listserv and CPSC funders can email info@calpsc.org to be added to the carpet listserv.

Help us hold the carpet industry to a much higher recycling standard for California!

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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.