Plastics Free CA Ballot Initiative


Plastics Free CA is a ballot initiative—an effort organized by the people of California to impact change through an upcoming election. Signature gathering was on a great roll, but due to the current circumstances, the campaign managers as estimating they are about 40-50,000 signatures short. They are accepting signatures through June 19. If you have access to a printer or printing shop, here’s how you can help make sure that Californians have a chance to vote to stop plastic pollution:

Step 1: Review the initiative

Step 2: Print, sign, and send! Please read the instructions carefully

Step 3: Spread the word! Share this site and use the hashtag #PlasticsFreeCA on social media

Petition drive paid for by Clean Coasts, Clean Water, Clean Streets: Environmentalists, Recyclers, and Farmers Against Plastic Pollution. Committee major funding from Recology, Corn Refiners Association and New Approach PAC.

Bay Area Shelter-In-Place Orders Amended To Include Recycling and Composting


Doug Brooms, ZWAC Co-Chair, 5/14/20

In the revised S-I-P Order, issued on April 29 by Alameda County and Contra Costa County, and likely others, the definition of “Essential Infrastructure” has been amended as follows:

  • Essential Infrastructure means airports, utilities (including water, sewer, gas, and electrical), oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste facilities (including collection, removal, disposal, recycling, and processing facilities)…
  • All recycling facilities may operate, including but not limited to those providing for recycling of beverage containers, scrap metal, used oil, construction and demolition debris, and any other materials that can be, or are required to be, recycled by the State of California.
  • Composting facilities may operate and composting activities may take place.

This was welcome news for recycling businesses. On the first day following the revised Order, Cash for Cans in East Oakland reopened for business, with over 100 pleased customers, after being closed for six weeks.

There is speculation that the change might have been precipitated by letters that had been emailed individually to each Public Health Department Director serving five of the participating Bay Area Counties. At a NCRA Zero Waste Advocacy Committee (ZWAC) meeting via Zoom teleconference on 4/14, attendees had commented on the impact of Covid-19 on waste collection services, mostly the curtailment or suspension of businesses handling recyclable materials.

To address concerns raised by members, ZWAC Co-Chair John Moore volunteered to draft a letter to send to County Public Health Directors. Paragraph #1 included several compelling arguments for the inclusion of recycling within the solid waste category of Essential Infrastructure. Paragraph #2 presented a strong case for allowing CRV buy back businesses to operate. Paragraph #3 had requested accommodation to allow grocery store customers to bring in their reusable bags.

The 4/29 Order had acceded to the first two counts, with composting appearing as an added bonus. It is not known if the Public Health Directors had heard from any other grassroots organizations or recycling businesses. There may be no way of knowing for sure whether the NCRA letters had been persuasive or pivotal, but there is gratification in suspecting that they were. Letters in fact can make a difference.

In Response to Mr. Forkash’s Letter

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

By Arthur R. Boone, Center for Recycling Research (CRR)

I think your article brings a needed perspective to the question, but I don’t think I would put all the pieces together as you do.

My orientation is of a man who goes through trash all the time, looking to see what’s in play in the marketplace that is not recyclable. I started my quest being exasperated by my Zero Waste friends who had little to no idea about what’s getting thrown away and the disarray of these and other reformers at creating various minimum content and other laws to drive the reuse of previously unused scrap materials.

Paper, wood, metal and glass materials have been recycled for over 100 years; plastics and composites are the new guys on the block with no experience or even interest in what happens to their stuff after the first sale. In 2011, when I got up to 250 entries in my list, I discovered nobody was interested then (nor now, for that matter) in my little list. In the process of going through all this stuff, I realized I had created a mini-MRF, far more discerning than the monstrosities working today, with good attention to reuse. Still looking for my first bigger-than-bench-scale site, but closer than I was.

I also think AB2020’s big mistake was failing to recognize that unless CRV return was very much tied to the supermarket (its hours, location, convenience, etc.), a disconnect would exist for the always-short-of-time consumer that would allow, even encourage, folks for whom many nickels make a living to get involved in the redemption transactions. Markets hated all those scruffy underclass people and the CGA’s eternal antipathy to the idea got a face (usually what I saw black or brown) on it. And, since CalRecycle (as it’s called) gets its money from the grocers, the grocers and their lobbyists call the shots.

My recent but incomplete survey of CRV sites in operation says there are only three in Sonoma County, two in Alameda, SF and Napa counties, one each in Solano and Contra Costa counties, and too incomplete data for Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; the AB2020 arrow has landed in the mud, I wish all agreed on that. Maybe when CV trundles off into history, we can talk about it.

Note: Boone operated a Saturday morning buyback in North Oakland from early 1984 until early 1989. 

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Website & Social Media Survey!

We would like to know what you think of this website and our social media:
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Please take our Survey by June 15!

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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

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