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Agency Update - Winter 2018

New Tools Make Commercial Recycling Easier

The Mandatory Recycling Program recently released two new tools for businesses and multifamily homes to create customized signage and posters. These are the first in a suite of tools being created to improve outreach and can be found on as support materials for businesses and multifamily homes. 

Sign Maker

Our newly updated and easy-to-use Sign Maker tool makes it easy to create customized signs that show materials generated and where to put them. Pre-made ready to print signs are also available.

"Bags to Bins" Poster Tool

The "Bags to Bins" Poster tool makes it easy for businesses, multifamily dwellings and institutions to create customized posters to help employees and custodians put things in the right place. 

Mandatory Composting Expands Further

Starting this January, all jurisdictions participating in Alameda County’s Mandatory Recycling Ordinance will have organics collection requirements for businesses and multi-family buildings with five or more units. The organics requirements are in addition to the rules for recyclable materials. 

Fremont's American High School Sheet Mulching Extravaganza

In early December, 115 American High School students and community volunteers—led by StopWaste Ambassador Program (SWAP) Teacher Champion Julio Navarrate—joined forces with StopWaste to host a sheet mulching party to celebrate the school's new compost-themed mural and prepare for an eco-friendly school yard. Over 4,000 square feet of the school's front lawn were sheet-mulched to prepare for a drought-tolerant landscape. Community members learned about the food cycle, creating compost, and ways to reduce food waste. The event was featured in the Fremont Patch. 

Assistance with Climate Action Plans

StopWaste conducted a survey and workshop with member agencies about updating their Climate Action Plans to target ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions in line with the state's goals. The topics covered implementation of the original CAPs to date and jurisdiction plans for "CAP 2.0.” The survey and discussions revealed similarities in approaches and needs. StopWaste can help with:

  • Regionally coordinated sector-level goals
  • GHG inventory standardization and automation
  • Implementation metrics identification and standardization
  • Sharing of CAP consultant scopes, best practices, etc.

For more information about Climate Action Planning, contact Miya Kitahara at

Employee Spotlight

Meri Soll

Senior Program Manager

Meri Soll joined the agency in 1996, with previous environmental experience in both the public and private sectors. Meri manages the implementation of the countywide bag law, the grants to non-profits program, and the construction and demolition (C&D) program. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

What do you do here?

I wear many hats but I am focused on the management and implementation of three major projects. I manage the countywide bag law, which recently expanded to include all retail stores and eating establishments. The grant program is currently focused on providing funds to non-profits and organizations involved in upstream activities including waste prevention, reuse and repair. We are working with municipalities to create a regional approach for certifying how well mixed C&D recycling facilities sort and recycle C&D materials from construction job sites.

How did you get in this field?

I had been working for an environmental consulting firm and quickly realized that the "environment" wasn't their highest priority. My first job in the solid waste field was working with the Oakland-Berkeley Recycling Marketing Development Zone (RMDZ). Through the RMDZ, I learned of the Waste Management Authority and its great reputation and I kept my eye out for job openings.

What do you like about your job?

It’s been over 20 years since I started working at StopWaste, I guess you can say I grew up here. The grant program is a double-win: it has provided over $8 million in funding to help start and expand several local nonprofits that provide invaluable goods and services while diverting waste from landfill. Some recent examples include:

  • MedShare collects and redistributes viable and lifesaving surplus medical supplies—that would have gone to landfill—to people in need locally and around the world.
  • Loved Twice collects and redistributes newborn clothes to help disadvantaged new mothers who may otherwise be forced to decide between clothing or feeding their baby. They have distributed over 1.6 million essential garments and have provided over 21,500 wardrobes in a box to new families, diverting over 100 tons! 

And the bag law…it is so gratifying to hear people at the check-out line say “A bag for 10 cents? I don’t need one.” and see them walk out with a few items in their hand. The bag law really makes people pause before taking a bag.

What do you do when you are not here?

I love live music… I just got a tambourine as a holiday gift. I guess you could say I am a live music junkie. I also enjoy spending time with my family, walking my dog, and outdoor activities like hiking, swimming and being in nature.

How do you practice what you preach?

Even before I worked here, I always hated waste of any kind. I love shopping at consignment stores as my first stop for purchases. I think twice before buying anything new and ask myself if I really need it. Working here, the waste-reduction mindset has become deeply ingrained. I try to share my values with my family. They still need reminders, but something must have stuck because my teenage son has only one pair of jeans, one pair of sweat pants, and one pair of shoes and he says it’s enough!

Any tips for remembering your reusable bag?

I really like the bags that fold up as small as a tennis ball. I keep a bag in my purse, several in the car, I have bags everywhere. I forget them at the store like everyone else, but I let the person behind me pay the cashier while I dash to the car to grab them!

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