Serve on The NCRA Board!

Want to be at the heart of a thought-leading recycling organization? Other organizations are working for Zero Waste now, but NCRA has been leading in that direction for many years, is still out front, and is still on the move. You can help develop the cutting edge by serving on the Board of Directors.

NCRA will have six board positions open in the January election. It’s a two-year working post. Attendance at nearly all ten meetings a year is important, as is between-meeting work on at least one committee. Meetings move around the greater Bay Area. Phone participation is possible at some but not all locations especially at tour sites. Directors discuss issues, hear debates, and influence regional and national recycling thinking. They track and comment on legislation; listen to leaders in the regional industry; work on behalf of colleagues who need a boost; tackle issues that can’t be ignored; tour facilities; and talk business with operators. Benefits include free entrance to the annual Recycling Update.

Read about NCRA’s large vision in its bylaws, Article III: Purpose, Principles, Policies and Objectives. (Need Bylaws link)

You can be a part of the action! To run for the board, submit a campaign statement of up to 200 words. Say who you are and why you’d like to serve. Here are last year’s statements and 2013’s.

By midnight December 6, notify NCRA that you want to run. By midnight December 10, send in your statement with contact information to It will be presented to the members electronically. Voting will be conducted electronically from January 5-14. Results will be announced at the Members’ Meeting on January 15.

So help build your industry! Have fun with your colleagues! Get your statement in!

Federal Court Upholds Alameda County Pharma EPR Ordinance

By John Moore, Henn, Etzel and Moore
A semi-monthly feature, exclusive to NCRA News, from NCRA general counsel and board member John Moore, concerning recent legal decisions relating in some manner to Zero Waste.

Not unexpectedly, a 3 judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously agreed that Alameda County’s pharma EPR ordinance is constitutional in the case of PRMA v. County of Alameda, rejecting claims by drug manufacturers and their allies that the ordinance violated the Commerce Clause. The Court affirmed a Judgment to the same effect by Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California.

According to the Court, “pursuant to the Ordinance, manufacturers must set up disposal kiosk sites throughout (Alameda County). The kiosks will consist of disposal bins located in areas ‘convenient and adequate to serve the [disposal] needs of Alameda County residents.’ Manufacturers must also promote the stewardship program to the public via ‘educational and outreach materials.’ After collection, the prescription drugs must be destroyed at medical waste facilities. The manufacturers are free to individually operate separate product stewardship programs or to jointly operate a program with one or more other manufacturers. If manufacturers choose to operate a program jointly, the Ordinance requires that the program’s costs be spread fairly and reasonably among the manufacturers. The manufacturers may run the stewardship program themselves, or they may pay a third-party to operate the stewardship program on their behalf. Assuming the manufacturers jointly operated a stewardship program, the start-up costs would approximate $1,100,000.”

County estimated that, “a total annual cost to each manufacturer between $5,300 and $12,000.” The Court accepted that County-wide sales of prescription drugs in 2010 were $965 million and that sales have not declined since then.

The Commerce Clause of the US Constitution has been the lynchpin of many cases involving flow control- the lawfulness of a local jurisdiction commanding that solid waste be disposed at specific facilities. The test for whether a law violates the Commerce Clause generally is “When a state statute directly regulates or discriminates against interstate commerce, or
when its effect is to favor in-state economic interests over out-of-state interests, [the Court has] generally struck down the statute without further inquiry.

When, however, a statute has only indirect effects on interstate commerce and regulates evenhandedly, [the Court has] examined whether the State’s interest is legitimate and whether the burden on interstate commerce clearly exceeds the local benefits.”

The Ninth Circuit found that the Ordinance did not implicate either test. Although the Court analyzed each test carefully as applied to the Ordinance, most telling was the Court’s dismissal of most of the challengers’ arguments as not supported by any legal authority. Nor did the Court doubt that the Ordinance legitimately furthered the County’s interest in safe disposal of post-consumer prescription drugs. Interestingly, while prescription drugs sold across state lines clearly are part of interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court has never clearly stated why “solid waste” is an article of interstate commerce.

From the vantage of this author, this was a frivolously-filed case doomed from the start designed to impose cost and delay on the County. The Ninth Circuit should sanction the plaintiffs in this case and order them to pay all of the County’s fees and costs in this litigation.

Among the amici supporting the County were the League of California Cities and NRDC.

Member Appreciation Picnic, 9/14/14

Sunday, September 14, 11am-2:30pm, Lake Temescal, Landvale Picnic Area, 6500 Broadway, North Oakland. Join us for a day in the sun with food, games & fun. Family, friends and dogs are welcome.

Free activities include delicious BBQ, Meditation, Bocce Ball, Croquet, Frisbee, Cornhole, Hiking & more!

NCRA will provide all food & drink – for members, Zero Waste Youth Convergence list members and folks under 19. $5.00 donation requested from non-members, adult family members and friends. No one is turned away from lack of funds. Need a ride? NCRA can help! Let us know when you RSVP. Please RSVP by Sunday, 9/7/14 to We look forward to seeing you there!

NCRA is now active on Twitter @NCRARecycles & Instagram: ncrarecycles. Join the conversation for Zero Waste!

Member Interview – Doug Brooms, 08/14

I’m a Bay Area native. I grew up in Oakland, received a BS Degree in Engineering at San Francisco State in 1970, and a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford in 1972.

One of my favorite defining moments was when I worked as a student engineering trainee at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo in 1967. There for 3 months, I designed an air conditioning system for a data center, including all the duct work drawings and A/C specifications. When I returned to work the following summer, all the work had been completed, and the building was considerably cooler. It was my first and lasting validation as an engineer. During 1969 and 1970, 15 months were spent working at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab on an assortment of mechanical projects related to high energy physics research.

From 1972 until 2008, I lived in San Jose. The first 22 years were spent working at IBM, mostly in Advanced Technology and Product Test on high speed printers and disk storage devices. Then-after was a detour selling life insurance, securities, financial and legal services products. Upon returning to Oakland in 2008, my next pursuit was in renewable energy and energy efficiency, taking course work and receiving various certificates.

I first discovered NCRA at the August 2011 picnic and felt an instant camaraderie. NCRA advocates pro environmental policies and principles that long have been near and dear to me. I started attending NCRA events and occasional Board meetings. I formally joined NCRA in 2013.

I have sustaining commitments to waste reduction, climate protection and environmental stewardship. I’ve been an ardent recycler for over 20 years. It’s a personal crusade to be involved in the recycling industry. One of the more important issues we need to address is education and outreach to build awareness around over-consumption, and how to conserve resources and recycle more. We need to get out of that “garbage as usual” paradigm and gravitate toward a Zero Waste mentality.

I’m the recycling coordinator at my eleven unit multifamily residence. Working through property management, recycling participation has improved from infrequent to typically two full carts each week. I’ve had a few opportunities doing recycling and landfill diversion work at public events, which is gratifying work.

People might be surprised to know that I’m passionate about and involved in various social and environmental justice causes. I support campaign finance reform, climate change and global warming initiatives, and campaigns to shift our dependency on fossil fuels towards renewable energy alternatives. I sign petitions in opposition to fracking and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and support GMO (Genetically Modified Foods) labeling.

To stay in shape, I typically run at least 500 miles and bike at least 1500 miles annually. I have run at least one marathon each year since 1994. I typically ride with the Oakland Yellowjackets Cycling Club at least monthly. I enjoy doing videography, shooting occasional weddings and NCRA events. I have a mild addiction to Sudoku, favoring the more difficult puzzles. Usually when I attend street fairs, I bring my tambourine just in case.

I enjoy travel. Apart from my nephew’s wedding in San Diego in 2012, my last real vacation was in 2006. I went on a 7-day cruise to Mexico, San Diego and Catalina. Eventually I would like to visit Australia, as it’s the only continent I haven’t visited, other than Antarctica. I’d spent three weeks in West Africa in 1993, two weeks in Brazil during Carnival in 1994, four weeks in China and Asia in 1995, and several trips to European countries.

How would I describe myself in three words? Caring: I care about a lot of things. Dependable: If you ask me to do something, it will get done. Good-natured: I maintain a glass half full attitude.

Book: The Waste Makers by Vance Packard. It was a very impactful book for me.
Magazine: No favorite, though I used to favor National Geographic and subscribe to vegetarian and health magazines.
Music: Progressive Jazz, Blues and old Motown
Movie: Avatar
TV Show: 60 Minutes (also 20/20 and nature shows).
Sports: Cycling and running
Board Game: Backgammon, although not lately.
Website: Google
Animal: Dogs
Season: Summer
Restaurant/Meal: Herbivore on Shattuck
Place to Visit: Paris, France. I’ve been there 3 times.
Time Management Technique: Planning ahead and having contingency time for any unanticipated delays.