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Monthly Topic Briefs

Updates on current issues and projects.

  • The problem with PFAS
       

    PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of man-made chemicals used in a variety of consumer goods that can persist in the environment indefinitely (earning them the nickname “forever chemicals”). PFAS and are used in everyday products such as nonstick cookware, water resistant clothing, and even dental floss and cosmetics. More recently, manufacturers are utiliz

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    Plastic single-use food ware items like plates, bowls, and utensils are prevalent in daily life.  And while straws often get the most attention, these food ware items are also problematic, as they frequently serve a useful life of just minutes while their impact on human health and the environment is significant and long lasting.

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    Enacted in 1987, California's Bottle Bill has been one of the most successful and cost-effective recycling and litter-reduction programs in the United States, targeting aluminum, glass, plastic, and bimetal containers.  But financial support for California's recycling infrastructure has been reduced to an unsustainable level due to falling scrap values and an outdated state subsidy formula

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    StopWaste provides an innovative and comprehensive suite of activities for local schools, implemented by a team of Associates who gain professional skills and experience in the environmental education field.

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    Each year, the Agency leads an innovative StopWaste Environmental Educator Training, known as SWEET, for Alameda County residents, community leaders, and city staff to learn how to become educators in their communities on sustainable practices. Community education and outreach is a critical component of StopWaste’s efforts to engage local residents on taking action to reduce waste.

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    Since 2000, StopWaste has recognized dozens of businesses for exemplary waste reduction practices as part of its Business Efficiency Awards. In 2019, StopWaste is recognizing six Alameda County businesses who stand out in their efforts to help the county achieve its waste reduction and energy efficiency goals.

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    Through our sustainable landscaping and gardening program, StopWaste has long promoted the benefits of compost as a way to reduce organic waste while creating healthy soils and saving water. Now scientists are recognizing compost as a tool to fight climate change.

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    Milk cartons, one of the most common items in our kitchens, are shining a light on the complexity of modern packaging materials and how the ideals of recycling don’t always match the realities.

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    StopWaste’s member agencies are working towards achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and beyond. Through their climate action plans, local governments are increasingly addressing the upstream emissions from the production of goods used locally but produced elsewhere.

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    Endorsing a circular economy approach to waste reduction means moving away from recycling as the answer to managing materials, and moving to reusable items instead of single use and/or recyclable items. Reuse is considered “upcycling,” or extending the life of an item in its same form with minimal processing.

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    Meal kits include pre-portioned and sometimes partially prepared food ingredients and recipes to prepare home cooked meals. The kits are typically mailed once a week to subscribers, or purchased from grocery stores, packaged in a box with basic instructions on how to turn them into different meals, and ice packs to keep it all cold.

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    Recycling and organics carts can become contaminated by improperly sorted materials. Common contaminants include food, liquids, and food-soiled paper in recycling carts, and glass, metal, or plastic in organics carts.

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