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Agency Update - Spring 2016

Will the Reusable Bag Ordinance expand to all retail?

Family shopping with reusable bags

Bag Ordinance expansion planned

StopWaste is planning for an expansion of the reusable bag ordinance to include all retail stores and restaurants. The current ordinance, which went into effect January 2013, applies to grocery, drug and liquor stores. If approved, retail stores and restaurants would be added to the ordinance.

Consumer Recycling Quandaries in the News

Bay Area News Group reports on consumer confusion about curbside recycling

The Bay Area News Group recently featured recycling as their front-page story - spotlighting how packaging, labeling, and programmatic differences have led to confusion for Bay Area consumers who want to do the "right thing" with their recyclables. The article included findings from StopWaste's studies, along with tips and guidance from our staff.

Lawn to Garden Made Easier

Sheet mulching resources for residents and professionals

We recently launched a new regional website, the Lawn-to-Garden Marketplace at It's a one-stop shop for home gardeners and landscape professionals to find resources for converting lawns sustainably with sheet mulch. Visitors can find rebates and discounts on materials, get inspired by examples of local lawn conversions, and use our searchable vendor list to find cardboard, compost, mulch and more.  

Spring lawn-to-garden parties

This spring we're hosting a series of lawn-to-garden parties throughout the county. These one-day events provide residents with experience replacing lawns using sheet mulch. StopWaste staff and Bay-Friendly Qualified Landscape Professionals will be on hand to provide guidance. Residents get to see the entire process and use their new knowledge to convert their own lawn. 

Employee Spotlight

Wendy Sommer

Executive Director

Wendy Sommer has been with StopWaste since 1991, serving a variety of roles. Wendy has created key policies and market transformation programs – many being firsts in California, such as construction and demolition debris recycling requirements, food scrap recycling, and green building.

Wendy managed construction of the Agency’s headquarters, the first LEED Platinum renovation project in the nation. She began her role as Executive Director on January 1, 2016.

You've been at StopWaste for more than 20 years. How has it changed over the years and what’s stayed the same?

We started off with some very specific charges, such as helping cities meet the requirements of the state’s AB939 and Alameda County’s own Measure D. We then created our own programs that used a more holistic approach to waste reduction, integrating multiple benefits such as water and energy savings. More recently our Board has adopted ordinances for mandatory recycling and reusable bags to more aggressively tackle the challenges we face. The one constant has been a cadre of dedicated and passionate staff. That is something that sets us apart and I will maintain that tradition.

You’ve had a lot of roles here and now you’re at the helm. What are the most important things to focus on in that role?

I want to make sure that we grow and strengthen our relationships with our public agency partners and constituents in general. People seem to be questioning more the role of government, and for us this is an opportunity to create trust in the public eye. I want us to be known as the agency that helps people do the right thing, and for us to be on the leading edge with our initiatives. 

What should people expect to see from SW in 2016?

We’ll be more visible as an organization so that people can better understand and recognize our programs. We should be a trusted resource not just for solid waste but environmental programs in general. That means clarifying what we offer and reducing any misconceptions about our mission. We design innovative solutions that focus on preventing waste in the first place, staying true to the reduce, reuse, recycle and rot hierarchy.

What do you like best about working here?

For me there’s never been a dull moment. I’ve had many roles and tasks, which has meant a lot of challenges and opportunities, from policy development with legislation and ordinances, doing public outreach and managing a construction project, to helping lead the organization as a member of the executive team. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over so I’ve really enjoyed the variety. I also like the regional nature of our organization.