Help Support The Race To Zero Waste!


Join the Virtual 5K Walk/Run
to Zero Waste Challenge!
(Or just donate!)

With your generous support, Race to Zero Waste can uphold its mission of “Sustainability in Action.” As we reflect upon our workers, ways to promote Zero Waste initiatives, and how we can better serve our community once social restrictions are lifted, we can acknowledge our past, work in the present, and plan a Zero Waste future for all.

Below are The 3 P’s your support of Race to Zero Waste will create:

  • Providing financial assistance to R20W Workers
  • Promoting accessible Zero Waste education and outreach
  • Pursuing safer, more efficient Zero Waste methods for future events.

We are all in this together and your support will help guide our future into a new and even better normal than the one we left behind. RUN/WALK/BIKE with us in solidarity over solutions that keep us all safe and our planet healthy for generations to come.


Once you register you’ll be able to set-up your tracker (Charity Footprints free iOS/Android app or link up your Fitbit), and complete your distance goal anywhere and anytime!

The registration/running fee is $25, and you can sign up as an individual our create your own team to invite friends and family to support you on this challenge.

We’ve got some fun ways to stay engaged, learn about Zero Waste and meet new people virtually of course >:)

May 22nd, Live @ 5 pm PDT – Zero Waste Educational Series
May 29th, Live @ 5 pm PDT – Celebration Zero Waste Fest

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81719167159


Website & Social Media Survey!

We would like to know what you think of this website and our social media:
Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn and YouTube

Please take our Survey by June 15!

Members            Non-Members

Now that we can only interact virtually, on-line communication is more important than ever. So, we’ve created a survey to get your feedback on how our website and social media can meet your needs. It shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to fill out (depends on you) and if you include your contact info, you’ll be entered in the survey raffle to win a 2021 Recycling Update (RU) registration or a $100 Community Bikes  gift certificate

Also, please help by sharing the following link with non-member friends interested in recycling, so we can learn how to better reach people with our Zero Waste message:


Our goal is to hear from hundreds if not thousands of people!

Please respond today or by June 15!


Thank you 2020 Recycling Update Sponsors!


Sponsorship makes low-cost tickets and scholarships for Zero Waste Week events possible!

GOLD: City of Vallejo, StopWasteNapa Recycling & Waste ServicesCity of NapaSan Francisco Department of the EnvironmentHF&H ConsultantsR3 Consulting GroupRethinkWaste, Alameda County Industries, Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery, Toter, City of Fremont

SILVER: Zero Waste Sonoma, Zero Waste Marin, PSSI/Stanford Recycling, SCS Engineers, Marin Sanitary Service, Ecology Center

BRONZEAmador Valley IndustriesPleasanton Garbage ServiceSouth San Francisco Scavenger, City of LivermoreRecycleMore, Recyclist, Resource Recovery Coalition of California, City of Sunnyvale, City of Stockton, Cascadia Consulting Group, RecycleSmart, Sure-Close

Generous support from our Sponsors provides scholarships and low-cost tickets to students and those that need financial assistance to attend. If you are interested in Sponsorship, please send us a note via the contact page!

Bronze – $500 = 1 ticket
Silver – $1000 = 2 tickets
Gold – $1500 = 4 tickets


Ticket(s) to the event based on sponsorship level (as outlined above)

–*Special this year* Discounted registration for the National Zero Waste Conference ($55 discount per ticket)

–Your personalized logo on the NCRA website and program

–Sponsors will be formally thanked on stage

–Sponsor logos will be displayed on the screen during both breaks and lunch

–The larger the sponsorship the larger the logo is for placement

–Sponsorships support discounted tickets for job seekers as well as the students’ scholarships

Loving Reusables in the Time of COVID

By David Krueger, NCRA President, 6/9/20
Editors note: Most, but not all of these links are downloadable pdfs.
There has been a lot of confusion lately about whether or not stores and restaurants are allowed to let customers bring their own shopping bags, mugs, or other reusable items. While the State does not prohibit reusables, local jurisdictions are allowed to have COVID-19 regulations that are stricter than the State’s. (Packaging Law, 4/22/20)

On March 16, 2020  Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties, plus the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Berkeley issued identical Shelter-in-Place Orders. (APNews, 3/16/20) These Orders all contained the same language on reusables, found in Appendix A: Social Distancing Protocol, Measures to Prevent Unnecessary Contact, which is a checklist for businesses to follow.  The specific language was: __  Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home.

Relaxed Restrictions
The Shelter-In-Place Orders have been changing rapidly since March, and the Bay Area jurisdictions listed above no longer have identical Orders.

Alameda County, (Page 6) and the City of Berkeley, (Page 7) now state:  “Customers are permitted to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home, but they must not place them on any surfaces.” Stopwaste is seeking clarification from Alameda County and the City of Berkeley regarding the definition of “surfaces” before educating the public about this new Order.

Santa Clara County (Page 4) still says “Do not allow customers to use their own cups or other reusable food containers from home for takeaway”, but allows customers to use their own shopping bags as long as businesses  “Require customers using reusable bags from home to bag their own groceries”.

Still Prohibiting Reusables
Contra Costa County, (Page 2)
Marin County, (Page 6)
Napa County, (Page 2)
San Francisco, (Page 2)
San Mateo County, (Page 2)
Santa Cruz County, (Page 2)
Solano County – TBD
Sonoma County, (Page 3)

NCRA Recommendations and Suggested Actions
NCRA and Californians Against Waste recommend using Mendocino County’s (Attachment A, Page 24) language regarding reusables: “Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home that must be handled by employees. Customers bringing their own reusable items that do not require handling by employees is permissible.”

We also recommend that customers be allowed to bring their own reusable shopping bags as long as the customers and the store follow the Cal-OSHA guidelines for the safe use of reusable bags:

    • Bags are not placed on conveyor belts or any other area outside of shopping carts.
    • Bags make no contact with employees.
    • Customers bag their own groceries.
    • Customers do not bag groceries in the checkout area if they cannot maintain physical distancing. Groceries can be placed in a cart and bagged elsewhere by the customer.
    • Increase the frequency of disinfection in bagging areas used by customers.

On April 21, 2020 NCRA sent letters to six of the prohibiting jurisdictions listed above encouraging them to allow reusables. On  April 27, 2020, NCRA signed on to the attached letter organized by Upstream Solutions. On June 10, we sent eight letters encouraging the receiptant jurisdiction revise their order as per Mendocino County’s (Attachment A, Page 24) . (See each (NCRA LETTER) in Health Officer List below.

What Can You Do?

When reusables are “legal” again, shop at establishments that allow them and encourage others to follow. Note that some stores and restaurants may still choose to prohibit reusables even if they are not required to.

Here is bagging advice from Zero Waste Sonoma: However, you can still use reusable bags; just leave them in your vehicle, or if you don’t drive to the store, keep them in a backpack or handbag, and ask the bagger to place groceries directly into the cart at checkout. When you exit the store, transfer items from the cart into your bags. As an extra precaution, wash your bags between uses.

Please write your local health officials to allow reusables again. Encourage them to adopt the Mendocino County Attachment A language. “Not permitting customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home that must be handled by employees. Customers bringing their own reusable items that do not require handling by employees is permissible.” (See each (NCRA LETTER) in Health Officer List below.

Bay Area Health Officials and Sample Letters
Dr. Erica Pan, Interim Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
Alameda County Public Health Department
1000 Broadway Suite 500, Oakland, CA 94607
510 267-3200, Erica.Pan@acgov.org

Lisa B. Hernandez, MD, MPH, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
City of Berkeley, Health Housing, and Community Services
1947 Center Street, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
510 981-5308, Fax: 510 981 5395, lihernandez@cityofberkeley.info

Christopher Farnitano, MD, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
Contra Costa County Health Services
50 Douglas Drive, Suite 310-A, Martinez, CA 94553
925 957-2679, Chris.Farnitano@hsd.cccounty.us

Matthew Willis, MD, KPH, Public Health Officer and Benita McLarin, Director (NCRA LETTER)
Marin County Health and Human Services
3240 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael, CA 94903
415 473-4163, bmclarin@marincounty.org; mwillis@marincounty.org

Tomás J. Aragón, MD, DrPH, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
San Francisco City and County Department of Public Health
101 Grove Street, Room 308, San Francisco, CA 94102
415 554-2710, tomas.aragon@sfdph.org

Scott Morrow, MD, MPH, Health Officer and Cassius Lockett, Director (SAMPLE LETTER)
San Mateo County Public Health Department (NCRA LETTER)
225 37th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403
650 573-2519, smorrow@smcgov.org; clockett@smcgov.org

Sara H. Cody, MD, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
Santa Clara County Public Health Department
976 Lenzen Avenue, 2nd Floor, San Jose, CA 95126
408 792-3798, sara.cody@phd.sccgov.org

Gail Newel MD, Health Officer (NCRA LETTER)
County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency
Post Office Box 962, 1080 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95061-0962
831 454-4000, Fax: 831 454-4488, gail.newel@santacruzcounty.us

Dr. Sundari Mase, Interim Health Officer (NCRA LETTER I/P)
Sonoma County Department of Health Services
1450 Neotomas Avenue, Suite 200
Santa Rosa, CA 95405


# # #


Conscious Container

By Caren McNamara, Founder/CEO, 06/10/20
Refillable/Reusable/Returnable glass bottle systems can deliver an economically viable and environmental impactful solution to reduce single-use bottle packaging waste, as long demonstrated by refillable bottle systems all around the world.

Incorporated in 2017, over the past three years Conscious Container has been conducting ‘proof of concept’ glass bottle collection pilots in Northern California and Northern Nevada. Pilots included an incentive-based drop-off program in Nevada, a donation-based drop-off program and a CRV redemption-based program in Northern California. Becoming a certified ‘Processor’ in the CalRecycle CRV system allowed Conscious Container to pilot with a recycler to separate specific CRV bottle for washing and refilling. These pilots provided insights on how a refillable system could operate while creating strategic partnerships with beverage producers, recyclers, waste haulers, non-profit organizations, policymakers and industry thought leaders.

In the later part of 2019 Conscious Container was asked to present our refillable program at several large industry events, including the Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition member event in Denver. From these events large beverage producers and retailers began to approach Conscious Container to learn more about our refillable business model, several of whom operate refillable/returnable bottle systems in other countries.

One company, Anheuser Busch InBev (ABInBev), encouraged Conscious Container to apply for their 100+ Sustainability Accelerator program. In early 2020 Conscious Container was one of seventeen start-up companies from around the world select to join the Accelerator program to conduct our business solution pilot in 2020. Although the pilot is a bit delayed due to COVID19 lockdown requirements, the partners intended to launch a refillable pilot in the San Francisco North Bay hopefully in Q3. Additionally, Conscious Container was honored with an invitation to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 program which allows this innovative start-up a seat at the table to create circular economy solutions with large global producer Foundation members.

Conscious Container’s vision of ‘A World of Reuse Cultures & Economies’ stands out front. And, moving the needle on reducing our single use packaging waste, as many of you know, requires collaboration across many ecosystems. As Conscious Container’s Founder Caren McNamara often states, “Here we go…”.

Here is a short video about Conscious Container’s partnership with the ABInBev 100+ Sustainability Accelerator program.

# # #

Don’t Suspend Bottle Bill – But Do Overhaul It

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Northern California Recycling Association.

By Jeff Donlevy, General Manager, Ming’s Resource East Bay Corp, Hayward, CA, 6/9/20, 1988
In response to his letter regarding the need to Suspend and Overhaul the Bottle Bill, Mr. Forkash makes several good points that need to be acted upon in the near future, however, several of his points are not supported by most recycling centers that make their living from the program.

Overhauling the Bottle Bill is long overdue and we are recommending items that can be done fairly quickly to help support local recycling centers. However, the suggestion to suspend the Bottle Bill completely is not a realistic option.

The Bottle Bill can be fixed. Consumers throughout California want to get their deposits back and there are people of all walks of life that are dependent on getting their California Redemption Value (CRV) deposits back. Many companies, including locally, have grown, created jobs and done very well financially since the Bottle Bill was created.

Since 1986, the Bottle Bill has helped prevent billions of used beverage containers from ending up in streams, rivers, along highways, in the bay, the ocean, or in landfills. It has helped most Californians think about recycling material in their daily lives and returns over $700 million in CRV to Californians every year. Like he indicates, the unredeemed amount needs to be improved by adding more convenient redemption opportunities for consumers including Recycling Centers, In-store take back programs, Reverse Vending Machines (RVM’s), and Bag Drop Programs.

At the start of the Pandemic in March, the request was made to the Governors office to suspend the CRV program to prevent possible spread of the Covid virus, flatten the curve, and help reduce grocers and their employees from potential exposure from the public trying to redeem their CRV deposits. In late March, the Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C. issued a letter that emphasized recycling centers in the United States were essential businesses supplying resources and material for needed manufacturing activity and support of grocers. Recycling centers that could implement and follow CDC guidelines for safe operations, handling of material, and social distancing with customers could remain open.

By April, approximately 800-900 of the 1,200 certified recycling centers were able to remain open and help relieve the burden of grocers from having to redeem deposits in the store. Currently, the Bottle Bill supports approximately 8,000 jobs, with most recycling centers being small family owned, and a large percentage minority, owned businesses.

On April 22, Governor Newsom issued a 60-day Executive Order, allowing recycling centers to remain open less than the 30 hours per week required by the Bottle Bill and relive the grocery stores and dealers from having to redeem containers in stores. The Order is set to expire on June 22. As we emerge and move into Phase 2, 3, and 4, now is the time to help recycling centers, so more people can redeem their deposits and get that money back into the local economy.

CalRecycle has been supportive of local recycling centers, attending meetings with concerned recycling center operators in Hayward with Senator Wieckowski staff and Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle. CalRecycle staff has toured several bay area recycling centers, including Aaron’s Metals facility in Hayward, to gather more information on the impact of closures. CalRecycle is supportive, but they are limited in what they can do.

As of June 3rd, the Bay Area is one of the most underserved areas in the state of California for recycling centers. The Peninsula has only 3 recycling centers, East Bay has 7 recycling centers and San Jose/Santa Clara has only 6. Only 16 recycling centers for 5.2 million people. Several CRV recycling centers that were co-located with other metal recycling facilities like Aaron Metals or at solid waste facilities like Recology or Blue Line Transfer, may not re-open due to very low scrap prices for aluminum, plastic, and the underfunding by CalRecycle, as pointed out by Mr. Forkash.

Californians like to redeem their CRV deposits when the redemption locations are convenient. Curbside programs may be a ‘green’ option and convenient, but the quality and recovery of material is not the highest or best use, compared to taking material back to a CRV recycling center. With curbside programs, consumers do not get their deposits back . Curbside should be the last option, not the only option, as is the case in many northern California communities.

It is up to the Governor and Legislature to enact changes to the Bottle Bill that will help consumers redeem their deposits and get that money into the local economy, while supporting local recycling centers. We are recommending common sense reforms to help provide more redemption opportunities for consumers to redeem their deposits, including:

      • Provide additional financial relief for Recycling Centers due to low aluminum and plastic prices
      • Help grocers get made whole for redeeming CRV containers
      • Better use of Reverse Vending Machines’ (RVM’s)
      • Allow bag drop programs
      • Density based payments to recycling centers in underserved areas, like the Bay Area
      • Incentives for recyclers to open in unserved convenience zones
      • Hold cities accountable when recycling centers or redemption opportunities are not available in local jurisdictions
      • Allow CalRecycle authority to determine jurisdictional recycling zone requirements and
      • Convert funds approved under AB 54 and the Penalty account into a Matching Funds account that CalRecycle could use to help start up recycling centers, provide RVM’s, or equipment upgrades in rural or underserved areas.

We ask the Governor and Legislature to act swiftly this summer to approve legislation to help consumers get their deposits back, put money into the local economies, and support local recycling centers. Failure to do so could result in a continued collapse of the flawed program as Mr. Forkash points out. We agree with him, the recycling industry stands ready and willing to partner with the Governor, Legislature, and CalRecycle to re-build a robust recycling system worthy of the consumers it serves.