Adopt A Friendly Bill

By Doug Brooms, NCRA Boardmember and Legislative Lead, 4/2017
Have you ever given much thought to the array of mostly environmental laws which protect our food, water, air, health, safety, climate, security… in short, our well-being? What if there emerged a nationwide 4-year campaign to systematically dismantle, roll back and weaken many of the laws, regulations and safeguards that we casually take for granted? Perhaps you should consider adopting a bill or even join the NCRA committee that evaluates bills for letters of support or opposition.

Lucky for us, California is one of only six states – CA, DE, HI, OR, RI, WA, having a democratic governor and majority legislature, arguably with a greater predisposition towards environmental protection over special interests. The California Environmental Protection Agency “Cal EPA” historically has been party to landmark laws and statutes, and in leading the nation with lofty targets for resource recovery, mitigation of greenhouse gases and climate protection.

Cal EPA is comprised of an array of state agencies, one of which is the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (DRRR) or “CalRecycle”. (Click here for the CalRecycle State of Recycling in California – Updated 2016.) Of the hundreds of bills introduced during the first two months of each year, CalRecycle handpicks three dozen or so for their Priority List. NCRA in turn selects those considered worthy of our merit to support or oppose.

For 2015, there had been an initial set of 44 CalRecycle priority bills, of which 8 ultimately got signed into law, 18%. NCRA had written 12 letters of support to committee chairs, and subsequently five to Governor Brown, all of which he signed. For 2016, there had been 41 CalRecycle bills, of which NCRA had supported 9, including 8 bills of the 20 that got passed, 49%.

There was one 2016 bill that had gained fervent support among NCRA members. Prop 67 would uphold the 2014 statewide law to phase out single-use grocery bags, an ever growing environmental scourge and hazard to wild- and marine-life. Plastic bag manufacturers from NJ, SC and TX spent over $20 million in opposition. Weeks before the Nov. 2016 elections, NCRA activists led by the board conducted comprehensive voter outreach, canvasing at supermarkets and events, phone calling, posting blogs and bulletin board posts and produced a 3-minute must-see video, “Yes on Prop 67, Ban the Bags!”. NCRA is proud to have been among the hundreds of organizations which contributed to the passage of Prop 67, albeit by a modest 52-48 margin.

For 2017 there are 31 CalRecycle priority bills, of which 12 NRCA has supported or likely will support, plus another 12 having promising potential. Among the remaining crop, we particularly like those in the spirit of last year’s Prop 67 towards mitigating the bane of plastic pollution of our lands and oceans, and the deleterious effects to sea-faring birds and marine life. AB 319, initiated by a number of our members who are also leaders of the Save The Albatross Coalition, would prohibit a retailer from selling or offering for sale a single-use plastic beverage container with a cap that is not tethered to or contiguously affixed. AB 1594 aims to curb ocean plastic pollution, and SB 705 would phase out Styrofoam and other single use plastic food packaging and wares, in favor of compostable and recyclable versions.

In the spirit of Zero Food Waste, there are two bills, AB 954 “Food Packaging Date Labels” and AB 1219 the “California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act”. Both are designed to lessen edible food waste. (Here is information from the USDA website regarding the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.)

The NCRA ZWAC committee has prepared 4 letters to date. You are welcome to reuse them for your own organization. Send a note to the office via our contact page to receive them in an editable document.

To see abbreviated descriptions of CalRecycle’s Priority List, and to stay abreast with NCRA’s preferences and support of bills, periodically visit our 2017 legislative page. Another valuable source for current legislation updates is Californians Against Waste (CAW).

If you have inclinations towards environmental or legislative activism, consider getting more engaged with NCRA, or whichever environmental justice organization that you prefer. Environmental and Zero Waste Advocacy in California are as important as ever, to preserve hard fought environmental victories and to create new ones. Consider advocating for those bills that are beyond the purview of NCRA, but nonetheless are worthy of pursuit. Make a phone call, sign a petition, join a discussion, or do whatever might sway or persuade a lawmaker. Thus whenever again you ponder the panoply of coveted laws that protect us, the planet and our future, be content that you made a contribution, in your own way, to your own well-being.

ZWAC Minutes, January 2016

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA RECYCLING ASSOCIATION
ZERO WASTE ADVOCACY COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MONTHLY MEETING, January, 2015   DRAFT.

This meeting was held on Tuesday, January 12, 2015 at the offices of John Moore, 1970 Broadway, 9th floor, Oakland. Called for 6 p.m. Call-in number is 510/891-9800.

Present were Chair Boone and committee members   Brooms, Knapp, Moore, Russell, Van Deventer, Wright, and Yee; no call-ins. The meeting started at 6:16 p.m. Minutes of the November meeting are now available but were not discussed. The meeting scheduled for December was canceled due to Boone’s illness. Yee (assisted by Boone) served as secretary.

AGENDA

Item 1: Zero Waste Plans in the Northeast Bay: David Tam, presenting.
This matter was pulled in Tam’s absence (We later learned he was ill and could not come.)

Item 2: CalRecycles meeting on December 15th regarding the state’s plan to meet 75% diversion. Arthur Boone, presenting.
Boone was present at this meeting; his first with Scott Smithline as ExDir. Boone was impressed with the openness of staff to new issues and concerns and pleased that our side on questions was well represented (Nick Lapis, Gary Liss, and others); the Waste Reduction and Garbage people were on equal footing. Staff’s major concern seemed to be the shortage of funds needed to capitalize organics processing operations that is widely expected to be the major part of getting to 75%. If the state gets to 75% and CR has only $1.40 per ton in revenue, then we will have a problem. AB 1063 (Das Williams) would raise tipping fees from $1.40/ton to $4.00/ton, (which CR likes), but while Boone does not have any objection to that increase, he would like to see the state trim its staff rather than relying on the taxpayer. (There are 750 employees in all of CalRecycles (includes old Department of Conservation folks) and includes facility regulators. Knapp suggested we ask CR to tell us at RU what all those 750 workers actually do.

Discussion ensued regarding fees for recycling and the issue of declining revenues in revenues from tipping fees. Administrators at CalRecycle expressed concerns around 1) declining revenue 2) how to reach 75% 3) how would the state collect fees? 4) why do the majority of our recyclables end up offshored? In Northern CA we already have a substantial composting infrastructure so Boone thinks the building of composting’s infrastructure should be funded by Southern California as Northern California’s infrastructure has already been developed with our ratepayers’ funds, not the state’s. Staff thinks it will cost about $630 million dollars to develop sufficient organics processing facilities. Some of it may be funded with cap and trade money, but there will be a significant remainder to fund. Knapp noted that the ADC Loophole has not yet been closed yet, and will not be closed until 2020. It was also mentioned that Southern California’s role in regenerative farming is significant since there is ample rangeland and desert. Reference to Alan Savory who long preceded the Marin Carbon Project. Boone said he thought that the crunch point on organics diversion is not markets but getting food out of the trash.

Boone thinks that California, like Oregon, needs to develop capture rate data so that we can have some sense of how successful current diversion programs are. Mary Lou disagreed, thinking that if enough stuff showed up in the landfill audits, that would be data enough. Boone disagreed. Krueger recounted the original AB 939 statistical problems and the 1994 calculated generation data we live with today.

Another topic discussed at the meeting was the offshoring of most of our recyclables for reprocessing and conversion back into basic goods. Boone thinks the state is dodging the fact that California has pursued a de-industrialization program for at least a generation and that paper mills, smelters, glass plants, etc. have been closed and not replaced with in-state capacity. Boone thinks there’s a conspiracy not to talk about the lack of reprocessing infrastructure in the state although plastic reprocessors have been moving ahead here in smaller facilities.

Another topic at this meeting was how the state should collect larger fees, from the local public agencies or the landfills; Boone recounted her had asvised the CR leaders to keep the fees on the landfills.

Kruger had transcribed CalRecycle’s goals for this meeting and reported they were:1)organics out of landfills, 2)expand recycling composting infrastructure, 3) how to fund zero waste programs in the face of declining tipping revenues, 4) state procurement of PCW products, and 5)promoting EPR. Boone noted that the current level of 31 million tons disposal would be cut to 16 million tons per year if we go from 50% to 75%.

Item 3: Voluntary Producer Responsibility [VPR]. Tom Wright, presenting.
Tom was present at the VPR meeting convened by Cal Recycles on January 4 in Sacramento. All major representatives of manufacturers in packaging industries were present EPR was discussed, with comparative discussion of the approaches in the US and Sweden. The meeting showed a propensity of the packaging industry to encourage incineration, and they were certainly not supportive of EPR; nobody spoke out against incineration. [Wright had copies of the ACC’s “Circular Vision for Plastics Recovery” that included “energy recovery” as a suitable end of post-consumer plastics.]

There seems to be a serious interest in stabilizing and unifying the lists of recyclable and compostable materials on the state level. Tom thinks that the packaging industry needs to develop its own plan for sustainable (i.e., no burn, no bury) packaging. Boone thought we should write CR staff on this question but it was generally agreed that too few of us had looked at the presentations from the meeting that are now on-line. No firm action to be taken; Boone and Wright will confer to plan next steps.

Item 4: Should NCRA solicit or accept as Zero Waste Week sponsors persons or entities that own landfills and/or incinerators? John Moore, presenting.
Moore moves and Knapp seconds. Moore thinks that we should not receive sponsorships from haulers and wasters as it would compromise the judgment of NCRA, the recipient and encourages greenwashing. Russell proposes to amend with caveats that sponsors shall not receive sponsorship promotion and funds shall be restricted to activities such as transportation for youth; Moore refuses to amend motion. Van Deventer then offers that NCRA memberships are for individuals so that the organization cannot be bought; NCRA did not take organizational sponsorships for a long time. Knapp then recounted some of his experiences with the NRC in the 1990s when Dow Chemical tried to exert undue influence on the NRC and there was a subsequent decline in membership which took down the National Recycling Coalition. If NCRA permits higher level sponsorships the organization would be compromised. Motion is then voted with 5 ayes (Knapp, VanDeventer, Yee, Boone, and Moore), none voting no, with four abstentions: Brooms, Tom Wright, Kruger, and Russell. The matter will be considered at the board meeting after the annual meeting on January 21st.

Item 5: Endorse Transfer Station Rebuild in Berkeley. Mary Lou VanDeventer, presenting. Van Deventer requested that the NCRA board write to Berkeley City Council to fund the rebuilding of the transfer station. ESA in 2005 recommended a complete rebuild of the area for maximizing recovery. Urban Ore made a redesign that would allow for rebuilding while the current transfer station is in operation. Kriss Worthington wants to put in the rebuilding of the transfer station in the city’s 2016 “wish list”(the matter needs to be prioritized financially by City of Berkeley before funding issues can be explored). Knapp noted that El Cerrito is drawing people away from Berkeley with its elaborate drop-off; Berkeley needs to re-capture the market. Moore suggested that he, as a boardmember, collaborate with Van Deventer and Knapp to draft this letter and then circulate as per board policy. Mary Lou accepted this plan..
Announcements: Krueger would like us to consider a position on the single use bag ban referendum at our next ZWAC meeting. Wright also circulated a letter signed by many “green” California non-profits and LPAs (but not NCRA) calling on the legislature to fully spend the $1.7 billion sitting in the cap-and-trade fund; no discussion.

Adjourned at 8:09 p.m.

Next meeting should be on February 8th; location TBD.
Respectfully submitted,
Herman Yee (with Arthur R. Boone), Acting Secretary

 

Masonic Homes’ Composting Tour

Masonic Homes Photo JC1NCRA Tours Masonic Homes’ Innovative Composting and Woodlands

By Nicole Gaetjens, Sustainability Coordinator at Mills College and Ellen Hopkins, Zero Waste and Composting Consultant

NCRA members Ellen Hopkins and Nina Salvador and Tri-CED Recycling employee Raquel Archuleta led eight other NCRA members on a tour of an on-site composting system in July. Located on 250 acres in the hills of Union City, Masonic Homes is one of the largest assisted living facilities in Northern California. Masonic Homes and the neighboring facility – Acacia Creek Retirement Community, have partnered with Tri-CED Community Recycling for over three years to compost all food discards generated by 600 full-time residents and staff in an on-going effort to increase sustainability at the site. The compost produced is being used for an innovative habitat restoration project led by Math Science Nucleus (MSN) to restore native California flora to the hillside of this Mission Hills property.

The Earth Flow is made by Green Mountain Technologies. Ellen Hopkins, composting consultant, and Raquel Archuleta explained the collection flow, in-vessel compost process and operations. Raquel collects prep (pre-consumer) and dining (post-consumer) food waste daily in four to five 64-gallon containers and brings it to the compost station. The compost system has a tote-tipper that tips each container into the loading end of the machine and an electric auger mixes the material into the existing compost in the system. Food scraps (nitrogen source) are mixed with equal parts of bulking agent (carbon source) in the system to produce a C:N ratio that makes the composting process effective. Daily input of food waste is about one ton or two yards, and bulking agent is about ½ ton or 2 yards. The bulking agent(s) used in this case is horse bedding from a neighboring horse stable and chipped wood waste from landscape maintenance on the property. The NCRA group checked out the compost in the vessel and were surprised there was no noticeable odors.

The Earth Flow is a fully automated, fully contained, in-vessel composting system that provides optimum conditions for thermophilic composting. The auger, aeration and moisture addition systems are programmable for process and product objectives. The traveling auger mixes in the new feedstock at the load end. The new material is quickly inoculated with active composting microbes as it is blended in. Process air above the compost in the vessel is pulled through a biofilter next to the Earth Flow. The biofilter is composed of moistened woodchips. Microbes that normally inhabit woodchips (no inoculants needed) scrub odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with 95% efficiency. The “plug flow” matrix migrates to the discharge end over the course of 2-3 weeks. In-vessel time depends upon the amount of material loaded and system size. After processing within the vessel, the compost is unloaded and cured to completion outside of the vessel within 6-8 weeks.

Nina Salvador, who is familiar with the reforestation project, described it in more detail: Masonic Homes and partners aim to restore the native oak woodland that once inhabited this region prior to the over grazing of cattle. The woodland will provide ecosystem services and enjoyment to the community. Nearby California State University-East Bay faculty and students are also involved in the restoration effort led by Joyce Blueford of MSN. This closed-loop system demonstrates a win-win-win project and was a great tour for the NCRA group.

WHOIS… MATH SCIENCE NUCLEUS is a 33 year old national and international educational and research non-profit composed of scientists, educators and community members. Locally it is associated the Children’s Natural History Museum in Fremont. It serves as an online science resource center to assist school districts, teachers, and administrators around the world. The major goal is to develop problem solving capacity through science for the world’s children. Read more… MSN: http://msnucleus.org/

ZWAC Minutes, September 2015

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA RECYCLING ASSOCIATION ::
ZERO WASTE ADVOCACY COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MONTHLY MEETING, September, 2015   DRAFT.

This meeting was held on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at the offices of John Moore, 1970 Broadway, 9th floor, Oakland. Called for 6 p.m. Call-in number is 510/891-9800.

Present were Chair Boone and committee members Abbe, Brooms, Hoffman, Krueger, McKaughan, Moore, Wright and Yee; no call-ins. The meeting started at 6:07 p.m. Minutes of the August meeting were not discussed. Boone served as secretary.

NCRA POLICY ON ZERO WASTE: Abbe, presenting. There is currently a large conflict within the WR&R industry with many different ideas about what should be acceptable Zero Waste practices. NCRA has never formally adopted the ZW International policy statement and it was moved (Abbe), seconded (McKaughan), and voted (unanimous) that the NCRA board do so. Boone suggested that the NCRA board defer action until October as the NCRA News would not be able to include this matter in its September issue but, after some discussion, that idea was withdrawn.

PROPER MANAGEMNT OF CARTONS AND ASEPTICS: Abbe, presenting. She has been working in several different school districts in Alameda County and each has a different practice because its local public agency’s contract with Davis Street MRF varies so that some USDs teach kids that aseptics are not recyclable and others teach that they are. Tom Wright contributed a lot of detailed information about aseptics, the more advanced sorting machinery available in Southern California MRFs, etc. It was agreed that Wright will write up some background on this issue and suggest what can be done.

LOCAL CO-SPONSORS FOR THE ELLISON ZW BILL IN THE CONGRESS: Boone, presenting. Boone suggested that he write on behalf of NCRA to all Bay Area congresspersons suggesting that they co-sponsor the Ellison bill, agreed. Boone to execute.

TEXTILES AT CAL RECYCLES: Hoffman, presenting. At the CR public event in March, it was revealed that the agency has no detailed knowledge of the disposition of textiles (Hoffman says 85% go to landfill) and seems to have no plans to learn or do anything else. She asked that NCRA directors write CR on this matter; McKaughan reminded the ZWAC members that the 48 hour review period required of board actions would cause any such letter to miss the Friday at 5 p.m. deadline. Boone offered to write his own letter.

FORTUNE MAGAZINE ARTICLE ON CURBSIDE’S DIRE STRAIGHTS: Boone, presenting. It was widely agreed that the article’s heavy reliance on David Steiner’s mission (to shake more cash out of the local governments who pay his firm to run curbside programs) was transparent. Wright likes TOXIC SLUDGE IS GOOD FOR YOU, a book that details how big business twists the public’s perception of environmental issues. Kruger will draft a response of the NCRA board to the Fortune article and have it passed around for improvements and approvals.
FEEDBACK TO THE ASSEMBLY WASTE REDUCTION AND RECYCLING COMMITTEE: McKaughan, presenting. She was present on August 18th when Assemblyperson Gordon’s committee met in Sacramento to take testimony about how the future could be better than the past. Gary Liss was present and recommended that the state adopt a Zero Waste goal. After some discussion, it was agreed that McKaughan should draft a similar letter for NCRA to sign onto.

VIRTUE IN THE NEW OREGON WR&R LAW: Boone, presenting. He had heard that the new Oregon law relied heavily on life cycle assessments to determine work programs of which he had an instinctive distrust; Wright said he had discussed these issues with David Alloway (Oregon DEQ) on several occasions and found that the results of any such study were too much a function of what assumptions were made. No further action.

OUR OWN WORK ON OUTSTANDING BILLS. Brooms, presenting. NCRA did get its 199, 751, and 1052 letters in; Krueger thanked Brooms for seeing these letters out the door.

CLOSING UP: Boone indicated he is going back east in early October for two months or more;  Yee volunteered to be secretary.

Adjourned at 7:43 p.m.

Next meeting should be on October 14th; location TBD.

Respectfully submitted, Arthur R. Boone, Acting Secretary

ZWAC Minutes, July 2015

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA RECYCLING ASSOCIATION
ZERO WASTE ADVOCACY COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MONTHLY MEETING, July, 2015

This meeting was held on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at the offices of John Moore, 1970 Broadway, 9th floor, Oakland. Called for 6 p.m. Call-in number is 510/891-9800.

Present were Chair Boone and committee members Abbe, Connolly, Hoffman, Moore, and Russell; regrets from Brooms (South Lake Tahoe) and Yee (work). The meeting started at 6:12 p.m. Minutes of the June meeting were not discussed. Boone served as secretary.

LEGISLATION: Moore, presenting. Moore as NCRA counsel has drafted position letters on ABs 199, 888, and 1103 for Chair Boone to sign; letters will be held until next board meeting on July 16 to ratify. Each member had a copy of each letter and it was MSV to approve all three as drafted. AB 199 was “support with clarification/amendment;”AB 888 was “support,” and AB1103 was “oppose unless amended.” The most interesting discussion was on AB 1103 where Abbe clarified that the issue of grocery chains backhauling their own organics to central depots for composting could be questioned by this bill and food donations could be left to the mercy of the waste hauler if such language were to be adopted.

SUSTAINABLE RECYCLING CAMPAIGN [SRC], Abbe, presenting. The second prong of this campaign was the third/green cart for all Oakland multi-unit buildings (3500 structures); all buildings now have their carts and collections have begun. Under NCRA’s grant from the EAB, 20% are being served by using McKaughan and JJ Robinson accompanied by sorters from ILWU employed by local sorting firms to interface directly with tenants. Another 20% are being approached by Cascadia hired hands paid by WMX to speak to property managers. The June 20th kick-off in Oakland CD#5 went well for NCRA and the language tie between the sorters and the residents (mucho Espanol) was very positive. After some discussion, it was MSV that all ZWAC members and all NCRA board members should be asked to give one Saturday by the end of June to volunteer to do outreach in Oakland.

OTHER MULTI-UNITS: Jessica Connolly, presenting. She presented in general terms their work at Marin Sanitary Service in setting up four different groups of multi-unit residents and measuring response based on type and nature of their introduction to the program. Others mentioned Lily Kelly’s work reported at RU-20 and the Stopwaste commercial recycling outreach.

NCRA’S APPLICATION FOR STOPWASTE FUNDING ON FOOD WASTE REDUCTION: Abbe, presenting. The team of Moore, Blachman, and Abbe has asked Stopwaste for about $20,000 to more clearly understand the obstacles of food transfers from those holding unwanted foodstuffs to those wanting such materials; this is an outgrowth of our food waste conference last fall. No funding decision yet. Food Shift has completed a study for Santa Clara County on this issue that is now available in draft. Food Shift also has a contract now with Andronico’s to get their unsalable foodstuffs to not-for-profits.

SF GARBAGE TO SOLANO: Abbe, presenting. The City’s decision to grant a negative declaration on an EIR for the transfer of the city’s wasted resources disposal from Altamont to Hay Road/Solano County has now been appealed by an interested party and the SF Bay Chapter has voted to support that appear but not to join the appeal. The SF Group has taken no position. After some discussion, ZWAC decided not to take a position on this issue at this time.

CLOTHING COLLECTION BOXES IN HAYWARD: Alex Hofmann, presenting. After some delays, the city of Hayward has a newly-revised but not yet published draft ordinance on the rights of and controls over clothing collection box operators. Not all of the contents of the draft ordinance are yet public but some are difficult for her firm to accept. After some discussion, it was MSV that Boone would prepare a letter for board consideration on the 16th that would object to unnecessary features known of in the draft ordinance and would be received in Hayward before the draft ordinance is released. Abbe said the City Council had proven itself worthy under the SRC issues and should be entrusted with any benefit of the doubt.

Adjourned at 7:34 p.m.

Next meeting should be on August 12th; location TBD.

Respectfully submitted, Arthur R. Boone, Acting Secretary