March 10, 2020

NCRA Recycling Update and Zero Waste Week Activities Postponed

As all are aware, the COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly and has become a serious global health concern. The consensus of expert advice is that it would be unwise to move forward with large events at this time. Many of our speakers and attendees from various  businesses and agencies have been given travel and meeting restrictions, while others are choosing to not travel.  The absence of so many attendees would have a noticeable effect on Recycling Update.

Therefore, we have decided to postpone RU2020 and the other Zero Waste Week events, perhaps until September/October. We will get back to you with a revised plan.

Postponed Zero Waste Week events include:

        • Recycling Update
        • Zero Waste Youth Convergence
        • Green Drinks @ Spats
        • Urban Ore Welcome Reception
        • Zero Waste USA Training
        • Berkeley Food Network Tour
        • Chou Hall Tour
        • Renewal Mill / O2 Artisans Tour
        • North Bay Tour
        • Livermore Compost Tour
        • Dance to Zero Waste
        • Race to Zero Waste (virtual option pending)

The National Zero Waste Conference (NZWC) is no longer meeting in-person and the organizers are researching alternatives. They are not planning a September/October 2020 NZWC at this time.

As the duration of the Covid-19 epidemic is unknown, any new dates for RU2020 and Zero Waste Week may be subject to change.  We will keep you apprised of the situation as it unfolds.  Thank you for your patience and understanding. (Sorry about the automatic reminder earlier today.)

We encourage you to keep your registrations and join us in September/October. These events fund our non-profit and make possible Zero Waste advocacy and education programs. We appreciate your support!

If you need to cancel, please confirm with your team supervisor first – if appropriate. If approved, please use the NCRA Office Contact Form and select REFUND as the subject.  Juliana will be working on this closely and you will receive a refund within 30 days.

For all of you still attending public events, we suggest you follow CDC protocols. This includes following good hygiene and being vigilant about it, including washing hands often, not touching your face with unwashed hands and using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available. Also, consider options for a handshake free greetings, such as:  wave, smile, make eye contact, Namaste, fist bump, elbow-bump, footshake or point one finger to say hello to old and new friends.


National Zero Waste Conference

CDC: Mass Gatherings
CDC: Sick With Coronavirus?
City of Berkeley

San Francisco

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

RU Feedback Letter Board Response

2019 Board Retreat

By The NCRA Board, 7/9/19
The Board of Directors would like to acknowledge receipt of an anonymous letter in late May reflecting on the recent Recycling Update (RU) conference hosted on March 19, 2019. Part of the letter is presented at right while the entire three-page letter – with one name redacted, is available on the website.

The author self-identified as a supporter, community member, member of present and future generations, and a person of color. S/he addressed the board on uncomfortable RU content and generally inviting the organization to reflect on its role in rooting Zero Waste in environmental justice and ethnic equity.

First, we appreciate the courage it must have taken to share these reflections, let alone to attend RU again when the content and environment was previously experienced as alienating and disturbing. We understand that the invitation is less to draw attention to the individual’s discomfort but rather to reassess our role in contributing to a Zero Waste world that serves the urgent goals of ethnic equity, collaboration and inclusion. We hear you. We are grateful for you for speaking up.

We apologize for facilitating a conference that did not welcome all equitably and may have propagated microaggressions, such as depicting people of color performing undesirable behaviors while white people were shown demonstrating desired behaviors. We own the impact that our collective lack of attention to these details had on at least one attendee. For that, we apologize.

We accept the challenge to adopt inclusivity, collaboration and ethnic equity as a guiding mission at NCRA. We own our role as a board in crafting the content framework of RU and as a space for the diverse NCRA membership and non-members to explore and learn. Our intention is to serve all. We are committing to leveraging resources for our membership and broader communities to that aim.

We invite you to join us, your Board, to reflect on NCRA’s history and re-center our shared mission around diversity, equity, inclusion and collaboration. We are gathering a subcommittee to consider the resources available. Please, join us in this important work of reorienting our zero waste work to build a more just and inclusive movement.

Let us know your experience, thoughts, reflections and interest in joining the initiative at by completing the NCRA Inclusivity Survey. Also use it to share any resources you think will help on this journey. We would also appreciate hearing from anyone who would be willing to assist with organizing RU next year, helping to select RU speakers, or giving a presentation at RU that addresses environmental justice or related issues.

Responses – anonymous or signed can also be mailed to: NCRA, PO Box 5581, Berkeley, CA 94705-5581


Recycling Update Evaluation Results 2019

By Rebecca Jewell, RU Co-Organizer and Portia Sinnott, Editor
68 surveys were received out of 430 registrations – 16%; 10% is considered a good response. Approximately 120 comments were submitted including 29+ recommendations for next year. Only a few respondents skipped questions, except for Q11. NCRA Events Outside of Zero Waste Week, received 21 responses and 47 skips.

Q1. Overall: 91% of the respondents said the Conference was Excellent – 54% or Good – 37%. Nine percent said okay and no one – 0% said they did not enjoy the Conference.
Q2. Topics: 90% were satisfied or very satisfied with the Speaker topics.
Q3. Recommendations: Almost half – 46%, made speaker recommendations or other suggestions for next year.
Q4. Subjects: The top ten subjects they would like to see more of in 2020 were EPR, Food Waste Reduction, Public Education Strategies, Food Recovery, Legislation and Regulations, Reuse/Repair, Product Bans, Product Redesign, Franchise Innovations and Zero Waste Businesses.
Q5. Price: 80% said the price was just right for the content; 9% would pay more, 7% a little expensive, 4.69% too expensive.
Q6. ZWW Events: When asked which of the other Zero Waste Week events they found valuable, more than half – 55%, said they were not able to attend the other events, 31%, said Green Drinks, 14% Zero Waste Youth Convergence and 13% Devil We Know film screening and discussion.
Q7. Zero Waste Week: 76% of folks said they think we should continue to offer Zero Waste Week, 1.5% said No and 22% No Opinion.
Q8. NCRA News: 88% read the NCRA News; 47% said they read it monthly while 41% said they read it occasionally. (One suggestion was to include it on the NCRA Facebook page.)
Q9. Membership: 79% of the respondents are NCRA members.
Q10. Member Satisfaction: 73% are satisfied with the services and information NCRA offers to its membership; specifically, 31% are very satisfied, 42% satisfied and 5% are neutral; 19% are non-members. There were zero comments.
Q11. NCRA Events Outside of ZWW: Only 21 respondents answered this question. 57% attend Tours, 52% Networking Mixers, 33% Annual Meetings, 29% the Annual Picnic, 24% Board Meetings and 10% the Semi-annual Holiday Party.
Q12: Lunch: 75% thought highly of the lunch: Excellent – 53% or Good – 22%. Nine suggestions were provided including a better system rewarding folks who brought their own plate and telling folks in advance what’s on the menu so they can choose to bring their lunch.
Q13: Profession or Affiliation: 53% of attendees are government employees, 13% consultants, 7% educators; 10% franchised waste haulers/recycler; 7% are non-profits, 7% are educators, 6% businesses, 6% activists, 7% other and 0% Independent recycler/composter.

Comments List In Question And Submittal Order
Editor’s Note: One comment was edited to remove identifiable references. The two specific individuals were apprised of these comments via email and phone.

Q1. Overall

  1. There were a few sessions I found informative, but it lacked interesting/new/innovative speakers that the conference has showcased in the past.
  2. Please print Name and Organization in larger font on the tags. The tags were almost illegible. There is plenty of room, and this will facilitate conversations.
  3. Such range and depth — love the format too!
  4. Topics seemed a little bland and heavy focus on recycling vs higher up the hierarchy (rethink, redesign, reuse, refuse). My favorite presenter was ironically the least technological -Plate Scrape!
  5. Best NCRA I’ve ever attended.
  6. I just love hearing from all aspects of the recycle community.
  7. Need to touch more topics like implications of China’s ban
  8. I very much like the lightning style, but I think you should allocate 5 minutes for questions. There are always more questions than time, and not enough networking time to follow up later.
  9. I wish there was more diversity with presenters and we could hear from communities too instead of solely industry speakers.
  10. It is my Not To be Missed annual event!
  11. The ten minutes format was a bit too short. Fewer, and more selective, choices would be better.
  12. Presentations were not particularly engaging, but event was well organized

Q2: Topics

  1. I would have liked to see more food waste reduction topics, more focus on topics that are current news, issues cities and counties are faced with such as SB1383, Plastic reduction (great to see Berkeley’s ordinance), more innovative public/private partnerships.
  2. Some good topics. Others felt like they had been discussed before.
  3. Because we do not live a society with a justice system that benefits everyone I did not care for the illegal dumping topic. I also did not care for the XXXXX speaker as she clearly does not know what Environmental Justice means and joked about it.  XXXX.
  4. It was such a wide variety, and some were not relevant to my work. Some were a little too far “out there”, and for example didn’t think Sabatini’s presentation offered anything. I would like to see more “practical” presentations, case studies or pilot studies of new programs, outreach ideas, etc. For example, Gigantic Idea’s presentation was great.
  5. Is it possible for NCRA to review speaker slides ahead of time & help edit down? Some of the speakers had way too much text/hard to read charts or graphic illustrations on their slides. If NCRA can provide guidelines for slides–maybe even limit the total number of slides the speaker can have/text, it would make their presentations more effective. Also, help speakers do a run through of their videos to make sure they work before the presentations. Some speakers had more success than others with showing video content.
  6. Not enough cutting edge, need more about plastic, some speakers not very good
  7. There were a few that got zero questions, and that was often l indicative of who might have been left off list in my longer-than-ten-minutes suggestion.
  8. Some presenters had poor presentation skills, and others presented on topics that were forgettable

Q3: Recommendations

  1. Please make sure to include statewide policy directions. I missed that.
  2. Loop (Terracycle)
  3. Given the recycling processing market crisis, this topic is something many people are interested in learning more about and would be good to cover more of this
  4. Generally I appreciate the speaker themes you come up with. I find I like the cutting edge/hard to handle discard issues the best-such as alternatives to landfilling dog shit!
  5. David Alloway,
  6. Markets, which companies are recycling materials into new products, where are they?
  7. Folks from out of state. There are too many locals we’ve heard from before
  8. New take on upcoming policies (state and local), how to actively implement 1383 (maybe more than one consecutive speaker)
  9. The Berkeley foodware and litter reduction ordinance
  10. Max Weschler – Urban Ore, James Slattery, SF Environment – C&D, Michael Siminitus, ZW Events, mark Funkhauser, Chumash Casino Resort – Tribal ZW & TRUE ZW Certification Process
  11. Would love some sort of global bin comparison study – who’s using what and how happy they are with them. so difficult when each entity has to do the research from scratch!
  12. A few speakers on SB 1383. What about a pre-recorded talk from a processor from China?
  13. Can we hear from more school-based programs? Universities and K-12 alike.
  14. Please have the projector set up and expanded as much as possible before presenters begin speaking. Many of the presentations in the morning were hard to view until the projection was expanded later in the day.
  15. More details on SB1383 requirements and how to do it; recycling markets – let’s hear from the sellers or processors of materials
  16. More on latest technologies
  17. It would be interesting to have speakers from environmental organizations like: Women’s Environmental Network (WEN), Cascadia Consulting Group, Green Mary, Replate, Olio, Farming Hope, Imperfect Produce, Rethink Waste, Stopwaste
  18. More on circular economy, hazards in plastics, more on how we can create policies that galvanize more reuse, recycling like a requirement for x% of recycled content in everything!
  19. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sunrise Movement,’s Youth vs. Apocalypse, anyone who cares about creating a more inclusive zero waste/environmental movement.
  20. More on how cities etc are approaching SB 1383, AB 1826 compliance, etc.
  21. Provide presentation guidelines to all presenters with some basics (1 page and some helpful links) on how to create and deliver engaging presentations in the given time restrictions. Many presenters are not prepared (don’t know they have 10 minutes, don’t know how to give a 10 minute presentation) or cram too much into their time. It’s a unique challenge to be asked to present, often very complex topics with narratives in a short period. Presenters could use some help from NCRA to guide them on how to make the most of their time and the audience’s time. Simple suggestions could include a major emphasis on keeping presentations to 10 minutes, practicing, giving a slide # recommendation (15 or less), and being consise with their stories and complex concepts. OVERALL, some presenters are great and all usually have relevant and important stories to tell. However, the way that some people present distracts from the audience’s ability to digest, understand and appreciate their message.
  22. Allow 1 & 5 minute speakers again too. Limit number of slides, words per slide and font size (no unreadable slides). Encourage more than powerpoints–mix it up. Allow people to talk with each other outside–it’s often better than the speakers. Thanks.
  23. I think the private company folks should be vetted further – like the first speaker who talked about circle economy and highlighted ikea and other companies’ greenwashed tactics as a good thing.
  24. Ellen MacArthur Foundation representative that can present the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment report efforts to address plastic pollution
  25. More examples of partnerships versus individual representative
  26. Cutting edge products like platescaper or new cutting edge services, toxicity of plastic pollution
  27. Longer than ten minutes. Actually, have some longer, some shorter. I once went to a conference where a session had several 99 second talks, and it was FUN, and not for the faint of heart presenter.
  28. It’s interesting to hear of innovative new products, but I don’t think vendors necessarily need to have their own presentation slot
  29. Mark Nicolas, SFE re: SFRecycles & presenting clearly

Q4: Subjects

  1. Who are the “players’ with legislation? (industry, key legislators)
  2. Reduction: foodware and litter
  3. C&D
  4. Textile Management / Microfibers / Reuse & Recycling
  5. Markets
  6. Technology
  7. Regional/multi agency partnerships
  8. Suggest that you might offer roundtable discussions to brainstorm policy/legislation
  9. Outreach, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  10. Scaling source reduction and reuse beyond boutique efforts.
  11. Emphasis on waste prevention

Q5 Price:

  1. Great learning/$

Q6 ZWW Events

  1. I wouldn’t mind a 20-30 minute Q+A session for the entire group to be able to bring up certain questions/issues and see how other folks/municipalities are handling/facing those challenges (separate from the dedicated speaker format)
  2. Very nice & tasty reception. Loved the veggies & tater tots.
  3. I wish I had heard of swap-o-rama earlier, as I wasn’t able to make it because I somehow missed the memo until after the date passed!
  4. Once BART is available from San Jose, I will be able to attend more events.
  5. Was everything on the website? I didn’t see all of these listed.
  6. Living so far away, I was unable to attend other events but would have enjoyed many of them if I were closer
  7. Green Drinks is always great
  8. Green Drinks was great! An awesome opportunity to meet people.
  9. Getting pretty crowded at Spat’s, time to try a different venue with more space

Q7. Zero Waste Week

  1. Altho it depends on the amount of work /effort required for a full week of events.
  2. I think it’s fantastic to offer ZWW because it helps build the culture.
  3. YES, it is a very educational and inspiring week of Zero Waste events!!!
  4. If there are enough people participating in the other ZWW events besides RU. It’s hard for me to make the other events during the week, so for me only able to attend RU. Definitely think ZWYC over the weekend is a good event to sustain.

Q8. NCRA News

  1. Crazy busy
  2. I like to keep abreast of trends.
  3. Good content, but I get too many emails to stay on top of them all
  4. Didn’t know about it
  5. I am newly subscribed to NCRA News, but I’d like to read more of it!
  6. I am interested in the content.
  7. I don’t get it.
  8. I signed up on the FaceBook page immediately after the conference, and hope to stay more frequently updated that way.
  9. busy
  10. I don’t receive it, not a member
  11. I read the newsletter
  12. Updates, Jobs and events
  13. it’s very valuable material and perspective
  14. Keep up on lies, rumors and gossip
  15. I’m new. Not bored
  16. Good information to stay abreast of current events, but I really only read when I have time
  17. Great article topics and updates, helps keep me well informed.
  18. Just learned about NCRA prior to this event.

Q9. Membership

  1. The City of San Jose’s structure requires a staff rotation for memberships and conference attendance.
  2. Colleague is one, and NCRA topics don’t have enough composting/organics related topics for me to warrant membership
  3. No longer based in Bay Area but considering joining anyway again
  4. Just learned about NCRA prior to this event.

Q10. Member Satisfaction – 0 comments

Q11. NCRA Events Outside of ZWW

  1. none
  2. The traffic from South bay is too hard to overcome.
  3. N/A
  4. Hard these days due to family commitments.
  5. Haven’t been able to attend Bay Area events since I moved to San Luis Obispo
  6. I would attend a networking mixer located in the South Bay.
  7. I’m new. First event for me

Q12: Lunch

  1. I always go out for vegan food since I am in Berkeley and there isn’t much at the RU.
  2. I’m gluten-free, not meat-free, so I wind up taking a sandwich and throwing away the bread. Not ideal!
  3. Quinoa is great, but every year it seems the same recipe?
  4. The bread in vegan option was dry
  5. Why does the side salad always have to include quinoa? Yuck!
  6. Great food! Please let people know what’s on menu so we know whether to bring our own (for those with food allergies). You provided GF and vegan which was awesome! And I did bring my own lunch which wasn’t necessary.
  7. I really enjoyed having a vegan option and coffee creamers. The lunch and snacks were great.
  8. Cookies at lunchtime and/or breaks. Not at breakfast.

Q13: Profession or Affiliation

  1. I wear lots of “hats!”
  2. Staff for UC’s system wide Zero Waste Working Group
  3. University
  4. Student
  5. Family office

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