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.

Recycling Update 2017 – Speaker PDF Presentations

Thanks to our outstanding speakers at the Recycling Update Conference!

Video presentations can be found here; not all are uploaded yet, so check back!  The speakers that did not utilize a PowerPoint have no link.

Tim Aagard – Tiny Tots Diaper Service Don Litchfield – Republic Services
Komal Ahmad – Copia Adam Lowy – Move For Hunger
Susan Blachman Mark Murray – Californians Against Waste
Emily Coven – Recyclist Jackie Nunez – The Last Plastic Straw
Lise Gorgone – City of Albuquerque Vanessa Pan – GO Box
 Amy Hammes – City of Burbank Jerry Powell – Resource Recycling
Bob Hollis – GreenEducation.US Melissa Romero – Californians Against Waste
Maria Javier Heidi Sanborn – CA Product Stewardship Council
Dan Kurzrock – ReGrained Garth Schultz – R3 Consulting
Wade Laughter – Cannabis Activist Wendi Shafir – EPA Region 9
Shana Levy McCracken Giri Veeramuthu – American Licorice Company
Dave Lentz – Wastexperts  John Wick – Marin Carbon Project

 

Recycling Update 2017 was a smashing success – thank you!

Thank you to All who attended the 22nd annual recycling update conference!

We had 24 industry-leading presenters that inspired and educated, and a crowd of 350 attendees from many fields!  7 Gold Sponsors, 5 Silver Sponsors, and 10 Bronze Sponsors made scholarships and discounted tickets available to those who needed assistance.  Thank you for making the Conference such a success!

Linked here is the program for the day; we will be posting pdfs of the presentations here as well, so keep checking back.  And in mid-April, we will have videos of each presentation available on our YouTube Channel.

Thank you again to our Sponsors!

GOLD : City of Fremont, City of Vallejo, StopWaste, SF Department of the Environment, City of Napa, Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery, Napa Recycling & Waste Services

SILVER : City of Livermore, R3 Consulting Group, HF&H Consultants, Ecology Center, Gigantic Idea Studio

BRONZE : Marin Sanitary Service, City of Stockton, CRRC Northern District, Stanford Recycling Center, CRRA, City of Palo Alto, City of Sunnyvale, SCS Engineers, Amador Valley Industries, Berkeley Recycling

Zero Waste Week – Full Schedule and Details!

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

Zero Waste Youth Convergence 5th Annual Conference, Sunday, 3/19/17
This event brings together high school and college students as well as young professionals in a full day dedicated to learning, visioning, organizing for Zero Waste and bringing this back to our schools and communities. Please check their WEBSITE for more details about last year’s event and this year’s details soon to come.

Screening of “A Plastic Ocean” Monday, 3/20/17,6pm, Marin Sanitary Service
Plastic Oceans has assembled a team of the world’s top scientists and leading film-makers to produce a powerful, high-end documentary in high definition ‘A Plastic Ocean’. Accompanied by scientists, conservationists, and engineers, the film follows the journey of two explorers as they travel to some of the most remote parts of the world, documenting the environmental issues associated with plastic pollution and its impact on the environment, ecosystems and human health. Panel discussion to follow (panelists not yet confirmed). Drinks and light food offered. Free for NCRA members, nominal donation for non-members. RSVP here.

22nd Annual Recycling Update – Tuesday, 3/21/17 – 8:30am – 4:30pm, Berkeley
Recycling Update is THE event of the season for Bay Area waste reduction professionals to learn about what’s new and different in discards management. The day features nearly 30 industry experts speaking on the spectrum of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot as well as networking opportunities, a delicious zero waste lunch, and plenty of ideas to bring home to your local municipalities.

Conference Format:

  • Ten-minute presentations
  • Zero Waste continental breakfast, gourmet lunch, and refreshments
  • Meet, discuss and network with folks in the field!
  • Easy BART access

It’s All About the Process(ing) Tour – Wednesday, 3/22/17 – 9am – 3pm
Most of the NCRA community is well-schooled on collection programs and outreach, but what happens next? Come see the next step in closing the loop.  We are lucky to have local Bay Area facilities with updated technologies to process collected materials into usable feedstocks. See here for all the tour info!

Want to know what happens to your glass bottles?  If you recycle a bottle in California, it goes to Strategic Materials – the largest glass recycler in the country.  If anyone toured their old facility in San Leandro, you’ll know that this is a fascinating and instructive tour!  Strategic has a new facility in Fairfield, and on this tour, you’ll see how glass is received, cleaned, and processed into cullet for production into new glass bottles and other products.

And what about food scraps, yard trimmings…and even the digestate we saw at our South San Francisco anaerobic digester tour a few months ago?  The Napa Recycling & Composting Facility has a new organics pre-processing line, receiving building, and all electric equipment to sort and process 80,000+tons/year of organics into feedstock for the onsite composting facility.  Many of us have seen MRF sort lines for recyclables, but you also need to see an organics sort line and processing operation to get insight into how California is going to get to that lofty goal of 75% of organics out of the landfill by 2025!

Tour participants will meet at a location to be determined in Berkeley at 9am, and the group will depart in two vans for a tour start time at 10am at Strategic Materials in Fairfield. No host lunch for the group will happen in the region from 11:45 until 12:45. Tour of the Napa Recycling & Composting Facility will start at 1 and end at 2:30, and the group will arrive back in Oakland/Berkeley by 3pm. Closed-toe shoes are required for the tour.

CRRA GRC Webinar: Next Steps to Zero Wasting in California, Thursday, 3/23/17, 12pm
Help us to plan the strategies and tactics we will need to maximize landfill reduction statewide.  Free workshop sponsored by the Global Recycling Council, a technical council of the California Resource Recovery Association. Sponsored by the National Recycling Coalition. See here for all the info and register here!

Dogtown Redemption, Thursday, 3/23/17, 6pm
Dogtown Redemption is the intimate story of recyclers in West Oakland—a journey through a landscape of love and loss, devotion and addiction, prejudice and poverty. Join us for a free screening, refreshments, and a Q&A session with the directors.  Register here!

Pier 96 New Processing Line Tour, Friday, 3/24/17, 10am – 12 noon
The multi-million upgrade at Pier 96 is impressive and provides an educational and exciting tour!  It is especially noteworthy that the upgrade was fit into, and around, the old system while it was operating. It has resulted in reduced residual, including capturing small pieces of material, such as shredded paper and more glass, and also has the ability to recover more material types like cartons, film plastic and textiles. The upgrade was designed based on the successful secondary MRF R&D efforts in LA that were recovering more than half of the SF residual that was sent to their facility. Register here, free admission, 25 attendees maximum.