California’s new organics and recycling law, SB 1383, is in effect, and StopWaste is continually developing resources to inform residents and businesses of requirements. We recently conducted an informational webinar to help businesses, nonprofits, and institutions in Alameda County understand current recycling and composting requirements and how to comply in four easy steps. We now have a dedicated SB 1383 Food Recovery webpage that provides information about the food recovery requirements and resources/support tools. Additionally, a list of countywide Food Recovery Organizations and Services is now available on our RE:Source tool.
Agency Update - Spring 2022
Jeff Becerra joined StopWaste in 2010 as communications manager after serving for eight years as East Bay Municipal Utility District’s senior public information representative. He’s a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where his plans to work in physical therapy got derailed after taking an environmental science class.
What do you do at StopWaste?
As communications manager, I get to work on a broad range of things, but the common theme is knowing well the bigger picture priorities of the Agency and figuring out how those get woven into our day-to-day work, whether that be something like reviewing a flyer that's going out, input on an outreach campaign, or communicating with the board through topic briefs. Other tasks are more time intensive, like writing the narrative portion of the budget, which focuses on telling our story to our primary stakeholders.
What is your favorite part about working at StopWaste?
I would say my favorite part is a combination of the people and the attitude, which is one that never settles on a certain way of doing things and is constantly striving to be as relevant as possible. It’s a mindset that permeates throughout the organization, including our board, staff, and the partners that we work with. Things aren’t stagnant, and sometimes that means working on a new project or topic area that we haven’t tried before. I also like the actual content of the topics that we work on. Over the last few years I’ve become really interested in sustainable landscaping.
In addition to the communications work, part of my job is overseeing our policy efforts in Sacramento. It’s been satisfying to see how the work that we’ve done in the county has resulted in changes throughout the state.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry and at the Agency over the last 12 years?
The biggest shift is probably in the orientation of the organization and the partners we work with - away from a primary focus on keeping things out of the landfill and reducing tonnages. We’ve seen some of the negative consequences of solely focusing on volume - from contamination in waterways or communities either locally or internationally who are harmed from improper disposal. There’s been a shift toward a more holistic view of what we consider to be the benefits of our work and thinking about resources more broadly, and how being less wasteful and more energy efficient can also improve the health of people and communities.
Do you have a life motto or mindset that you live by? And how do your keep your desk so tidy?
I like some of the ones from now retired colleague Tom Padia; one was “progress not perfection.” I do have the mindset of continuous improvement rather than perfection, which can often be a subjective measurement. Process and how you go about achieving your goals are important too. And yes, I do tend to keep my desk tidy but that’s mostly because clutter makes it difficult for me to focus!
We are sad to say it, but you are nearing your retirement from StopWaste. What’s next for you?
After working nearly 30 years either at public agencies or on behalf of public agencies doing sustainability communications and outreach, I have a major career shift coming up. I’m not going to stop working but I've come to appreciate the benefits of sustainable landscapes from working here and at East Bay MUD where the focus was on water conservation. I'm ready to work out in the field and away from a computer. I’ll be doing some work in sustainable landscaping, which is still loosely defined but I’m starting out with aesthetic tree pruning. The East Bay is actually at the center of this field, and I’ve been taking classes at Merritt College learning how to apply the principles of bonsai techniques to trees in a garden setting. It’s a nice combination of art and science. Where it goes from there I don’t know. This is where it parallels the work in communications in that I like change.