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Agency Update - Summer 2023

Congratulations Environmental Leadership Awardees!

Recipients holding awards, smiling.
Six entities from different sectors including businesses, non profits, and school communities were honored at the June 8 StopWaste Board meeting. Awardees were recognized for their leadership and innovations in advancing environmental sustainability, waste prevention, and contributions to building healthy, climate-resilient communities in Alameda County.
The award winners and categories are:
Fertile GroundWorks – Livermore, Excellence in Community Engagement
Common Vision and Good Eggs – Oakland, Excellence in Food Donation Partnerships
Bay Cities Produce – San Leandro, Excellence in Food Waste Prevention and Equity
Barnett Plumbing and Water Heaters – Livermore, Excellence in Advancing Electrification
FUSD’s Climate Literacy and Environmental Education Network – Fremont, Excellence in Sustainability at School

Meet the 2023 StopWaste Grantees

Group standing in front of desk with fresh produce.

Local community-based organizations and businesses have a critical role to play in not only preventing waste, but shaping a more circular, resilient, inclusive economy. The StopWaste grants program offers entities an opportunity to jump start an idea or advance concepts that prioritize upstream source reduction and reuse measures over recycling, composting, and landfilling. This year a total of $1.1 million in grant funding will go to support 64 organizations—24 of which are first-time recipients—for projects in six different categories: Food Waste Prevention and Recovery, Community Food Systems, Reusable Foodware, Reusable Transport Packaging, Reuse and Repair, and Surplus Food Donation Equipment. Since 1996, StopWaste has provided more than $9 million in funding to local organizations and businesses.

Successful Return to In-Person Educational Programming

Students wearing safety gear making observations at Davis Transfer Station
In early June, the StopWaste Schools team hosted their last in-person field trips of the school year at the Davis Street and Fremont Recycling and Transfer Stations closing the year out with 91 completed tours having served more than 2,500 students from 45 schools. For more than two years, all in-person programming was paused and shifted to virtual only. Now, the StopWaste Schools team continues to cater to the needs of students and educators and offers both in-person and virtual field trips. The StopWaste Schools team also facilitated a total of 19 virtual field trips.
The goal of these in-person and virtual field trips to Alameda County’s transfer stations is to get students thinking about the journey of waste and the impact that it has on the environment and communities. After the tour, students bring back what they learn to create change and reduce waste in their school and at home through projects like Green Teams where schools implement a peer-to-peer teaching model to help students sort correctly.

StopWaste Executive Director Joins SB 54 Advisory Board

Graphic of text in green accompanying plastic items.
Rulemaking for the nation’s most comprehensive legislation to date to cut dependence on single-use products, known as the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act, or SB 54, has begun. The law sets new goals to reduce plastic packaging and requires that all forms of single-use products be recyclable or compostable by 2032.
As part of the law’s requirements, CalRecycle, the agency implementing and enforcing the law, has appointed a producer responsibility advisory board, consisting of representatives of local government, environmental and environmental justice organizations, manufacturers, recycling and solid waste enterprises, and retail and grocery associations.
We’re pleased to announce that our Executive Director, Timothy Burroughs, has been selected as one of 16 members, and will represent the interests of local governments as the state moves forward with developing and implementing SB 54 regulations.
The purpose of the advisory board is to identify barriers and solutions to creating a circular economy and to advise the department, producers, and producer responsibility organizations on implementation of this new law.

Employee Spotlight

Jeannie Pham

Program Manager

Jeannie Pham joined StopWaste in 2011 as part of the Schools field trip program, left to work for a local organization, and returned to join the Community Engagement team as Program Services Specialist. She was most recently promoted to Program Manager. Jeannie graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.
What do you do at StopWaste?
I first learned of StopWaste in my senior year of college as a participant in the Agency’s Master Composters Program. I majored in English Literature but was always interested in the environment and even taught a class called “The Joy of Garbage” focused on waste management. To me, talking about how to manage materials and waste is a form of community care because it's important to have clean communities. I officially joined the StopWaste team in 2011 teaching the field trip program and eventually managing it for a few years. After a three-year break working at a local non profit, I returned in 2018 and have remained ever since.
I first started on the Schools team educating youth, and I now work with adults. Over time, my role has broadened to support member agencies, community-based organizations, and other teams at the agency with procurement of compost. One of my goals is to make good-quality compost accessible to people. In addition to helping others learn how to make it, our team assists with procurement of good quality compost, education on how to participate in composting as a resident, business owner, or community member, and how to use compost. It all translates to different projects like the SWEET program, a peer-to-peer program we offer, and technical assistance we offer to urban farms, facilitating a network of urban farms to create a resilient, healthy network.
How has working at StopWaste impacted you?
Working here has influenced and impacted my way of thinking about environmental work. It has helped me understand the importance of approaching everything with an environmental justice lens. Through my role, I've been able to work directly with community groups who are most often frontline community members and hear directly from them how issues affect them. The lens of environmental justice informs how I do my work and there's no other way to do so.
Do you have a life motto that you live by?
Small is beautiful. Things don't necessarily have to be grand in order to work really well and efficiently. Also, when I think of the motto, I think of the beauty of having super local community groups and communities being in touch with each other. For me, it's not about being everywhere all at once, instead, I value meaningful connections like getting to know my neighbors on a small scale. Having small enclaves of really strong communities is just as powerful and can make differences, it doesn’t have to be massive.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside of work, I love playing in the ocean whether it be surfing, boogie boarding, or even hiking out by the ocean. Those have been my favorite activities lately. I consistently spend time in or near the ocean, at least once a week. One of the cool things—and what I like about ocean activities— is that you have to be in tune with the environment and learn how to read the weather, surf reports, and tide reports. The best time to go is in the morning and that’s not only because that’s when there are the best waves, but it's quieter and there are fewer people—perfect for beginners like me.