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:

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.

New BOARD Members ANNOUNCED!

2017 BOARD OF DIRECTORS INSTALLED
Six new directors were announced at the January 19 members’ meeting!

Congratulations for being reelected Douglas Brooms, Laura McKaughan and Jessica Robinson, and welcome Rebecca Jewell, Hilary Near and Steven Sherman.

They join Jessica Connolly, Alexandra Hoffman, David Krueger and John Moore, whose terms end in January 2018.