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Agency Update - Spring 2024

Compost Happens! Video Premiere

Public education on composting is vital to achieving SB 1383’s goal of keeping food scraps and other compostable materials out of the landfill and instead in the compost to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In addition to requiring residents and businesses to properly sort organic waste, this state law requires cities and counties to purchase products, like compost, made from recovered organic waste to meet annual procurement targets. These products can be used directly or given away. Many cities in the county have launched compost hubs to make compost more accessible to residents for gardening and growing food.  

As part of StopWaste’s long-running efforts to raise awareness about the value of compost, we just launched a new video Compost Happens! In Alameda County, that showcases the various ways in which our neighbors throughout the county create and use this valuable resource. This film is a successor to our award-winning film, Do The Rot Thing, which played a pivotal role in extending home composting and waste reduction education to residents across the county in the 90s and 2000s.

Recovering Surplus Food At Schools

Schools often have surplus food from their kitchens before the holiday season. However, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, state law SB 1383 mandates that schools donate all surplus edible food to non-profit organizations to reduce wasted food and help address food insecurity. StopWaste helps to keep schools informed of the requirements and has since sent compliance letters to all 18 districts, and recently developed a new Holiday Break Donation Guide to help schools pilot a holiday food donation program so that they can test their procedures, evaluate their chosen non-profit partner, and test their donation program before implementing it year-round. This guide provides best practices from work in Fremont, Livermore, and Oakland Unified School Districts with guidance from the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health. Click below to download this guide and explore other food waste prevention and donation resources for schools.

Policy Momentum to Support Cities with Procurement Requirements

This legislative cycle, the Agency is sponsoring a new bill designed to provide additional pathways for local governments to meet the steep procurement requirements under SB 1383. The bill, AB 2346 would provide adjustments to address the SB 1383 procurement challenges that our jurisdictions face like high costs and limited flexibility. Currently, SB 1383 procurement requirements do not match well with counties like Alameda County that already have mature markets for recycled organic materials in place, making our ability to scale up procurement much more difficult than for regions of the state where the market is nascent. Over the past year, we’ve spearheaded and led the development of the bill and worked closely with many partners in the region, including counties, agencies, compost providers, and haulers, and in coordination with CalRecycle. The bill passed unanimously in its first hearing committee in Sacramento on April 8.


Employee Spotlight

Adrienne Ramirez

Management Analyst

Adrienne is approaching her 16th anniversary with StopWaste in November, where she has held various positions within the agency and now serves as a management analyst. With a background in real estate, she returned to the workforce after many years of being a stay-at-home mom and dedicating her time to her family, first working part-time as a coordinator on StopWaste's Bay Friendly gardening team.

What roles have you had at StopWaste and what do you do now?
I initially started as a part-time coordinator for the Bay Friendly team providing event and administrative support back when our popular biostacks program was still running! I eventually converted to full-time and took over more responsibilities in the Agency like overseeing the hotline, supporting the MRO team with administrative tasks, and eventually became assistant to the executive director in 2008. In 2018, I took on the task of improving the contracts process at the Agency and have been leading the initiative ever since. I’m proud to say that we have improved the process by digitizing and streamlining many aspects. In addition to managing contracts, I also oversee the building facilities, administration, and make sure the day-to-day operations of the Agency run smoothly. I was recently promoted to Management Analyst and am excited to take on new responsibilities that involve more strategic work for the Agency. I’ll be working more on the budget, doing member agency surveys, reviewing MOUs, and more to make sure our benefits and other policies are up-to-date. 

What are some skills that have helped you succeed in your role?
As a mom, I have developed certain strategies that help me manage my tasks and responsibilities efficiently. These strategies have proven to be useful in my professional life as well. Being a mom has taught me the importance of time management, meeting the unique needs of each child, and organizational skills to keep things running smoothly. I apply these skills at work as well, as I usually have multiple projects with different requirements happening at the same time. Also, I’ve learned recently to be more considerate of myself, my time, and my needs to support my teams. 

How has working at StopWaste impacted you?
StopWaste is a place where once you’re here, you don’t want to leave. It’s an amazing place because you get to work with such good-hearted, impactful people who are all working toward similar goals. It’s a very supportive environment. It’s also family-friendly; we are so fortunate to have that support here as mothers and families that is not always seen in the workplace. It’s a very supportive and empowering place to be and it inspires me to be supportive and empowering of other people. 

What’s a practice you live by?
I like to always ask, “What can I do to help you reach your goals?” because I see individual successes as our cumulative success to celebrate. 

What do you enjoy doing outside?
I love going out to restaurants, wine tasting, playing pool, and bowling. I usually go bowling two to three times a month, but sometimes I go every week. I’m discussing with my husband about joining a league again, so we’ll see how that goes. 

Aside from that, I also love to bake and cook. Making bread is my specialty, and when it comes to cooking, I like to make Mexican recipes. I love making all of my Nana's and dad's dishes. I don’t have any of her recipes written down, they’re all in my head from learning from her so, I love to do that to keep the traditions going three generations later. Lastly, spending time with my family is always a top priority for me.