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Agency Update - Fall 2021

Legislation Advances Circular Economy, Waste Prevention

California Capital

This month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a suite of new bills as part of a new climate package that advance recycling, public health, waste prevention, circular economy, and truth in advertising. This is encouraging momentum, and we congratulate everyone for their hard work, including the Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling, that led to the Governor's signing of these bills.

Below are a few highlights:

  • AB: 881 centers around taking greater responsibility of our waste, primarily plastics. The legislation discourages practices resulting in exporting plastic that becomes waste and ensures that only exports of truly recycled plastics count toward state waste reduction and recycling metrics.
  • SB 343 introduces the nation's strictest rules on recycling labels, and centers around truth in advertising and greater recycling transparency. It prohibits packaging from including the "chasing arrows" or other recyclability claims unless approved by CalRecycle.
  • AB 1200 bans the toxic "forever chemicals" known as PFAS from paper, paperboard, or plant-based food packaging, utensils, and paper straws.
  • AB 1201 ensures that products labeled compostable are actually compostable and prohibits products containing PFAS from being labeled compostable, ensuring that harmful chemicals stay out of California's compost stream.
  • AB 818 requires certain single-use wet wipes not compatible with sewer systems and infrastructure to be clearly labeled "do not flush."
  • AB 332 re-establishes statutory changes to simplify the process for handling and disposal of treated wood waste, permitting more safe disposal options.

Grantee Highlight: Transforming Surplus to Science

From STEAM fizzy rocket kits to project cars, nonprofit Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) provides thousands of essential creative science learning and other low-cost teaching supplies throughout the Bay Area. The kits are sourced from surplus materials that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. StopWaste grant funding helps teaching materials stay free or affordable, ensuring that materials are accessible to all.

The Future of Carbon Storing Buildings

Carbon Storing Building

Imagine a new mixed-use building prototype made of building materials that would emit half the embodied emissions as conventional ones, and store twice as much carbon in their mass as they emitted. Such a building is now closer to becoming a reality in our county. With seed funding from StopWaste, a cross-disciplinary team designed a building prototype that incorporates many bio-based materials like straw, bamboo, and sustainably harvested wood, while being resilient to earthquakes and fires. Read the paper, which features contributions from StopWaste program manager, Miya Kitahara, on the Carbon Leadership Forum’s Bay Area hub’s website, a resource for building and design professionals interested in reducing their carbon emissions.

Employee Spotlight

Trevor Probert

Program Services Specialist

Trevor Probert first joined StopWaste in 2011 as an associate for the School’s team. He left temporarily to serve as a school garden educator and independent contractor, and rejoined StopWaste in 2019 as a program services specialist with the Community Outreach team. He has an undergraduate degree in geography and environmental science from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in education and teaching credential from the University of the Pacific.

What do you do at StopWaste?

My primary role is interfacing with residents and the public around compost, although I do work along the entire food cycle. I help develop our resources and messaging on the value of compost, how to use it, and how to make it. Another role is community organizing and managing our relationships with community organizations and building partnerships so that we are sharing resources and co-creating on projects. I've more recently been working on developing compost hubs with our urban farm partners and beginning to play a role in supporting member agencies with carbon farming projects to help meet 1383 compost procurement requirements and their climate goals. I see a huge opportunity right now for cities looking to distribute compost to their residents.

What is your favorite part of working here?

I have to say how much I love working with everyone on the community engagement team. We’re a close-knit team, we have a lot of fun, and we have a strong shared interest as gardeners – we definitely talk a lot of shop! My position is also a perfect confluence of education and gardening – both of which I love. I’ve been a composter for 15 years, so I find it easy to connect with residents about compost and gardening. Gardeners are passionate people and always sharing what they know. I’m constantly learning from people and hearing cool stories from the community, which is really rewarding.

How has working at StopWaste impacted you?

It has impacted me in so many ways – most of my career has either been with StopWaste or adjacent to StopWaste. All my professional mentors have been with StopWaste as an associate, a contractor, and now as staff. StopWaste has provided so many skills development opportunities over the years. When I got my teaching credential it was because of my garden teaching experience, and that was because of StopWaste. Thinking I would become a teacher, I never anticipated coming back to StopWaste, but it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Do you have a life motto that you live by?

I live by the motto: “leave a place better than when you found it.” It’s a backpacking principle that I apply to life in general. One time I was on a backpacking trip and realized I had left a bag of garbage beside the trail. I actually ran back a few miles to get it. I think that was the moment this principle set in for me. But unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to my kitchen – I definitely leave that place worse off than when I found it.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Milo – my 80-pound pit bull, German Shepherd, chow-chow mix – is a huge part of my life. He does not make friends easily, so I spend a lot of time with him wrestling, walking, running, and keeping him exercised. Gardening is also a big thing in my life. This fall, I’m looking forward to redesigning my porch garden. I have about 30 pounds of worm castings in my worm bin that I need to harvest, so I have a whole plan. I also do volunteer work at Farm-2-Market every other Saturday, planting, watering, and weeding. I also like games – my family is pretty competitive playing Settlers of Catan and card games like Euchre.