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Banner: Zero Waste

SWANA 2002
Last modified: October 09, 2008
Linda Moulton-Patterson, chair of CIWMB discusses the progress of local governments in meeting the California Waste Mangement Act at SWANA 2002 and promotes a zero waste approach.
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Good Afternoon.

It is a pleasure to be here today and discuss the waste management issues currently facing California. However before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Long Beach on behalf of the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Integrated Waste Management Board and Governor Gray Davis. I have had the good fortune to spend quite a bit of time in Long Beach lately, as the CIWMB opened its southern California office here earlier this year. That is why I am sure that you will enjoy your time here.

The year 2000 was the benchmark year for California cities, counties, and regional agencies that have implemented waste diversion programs in accordance with the California Waste Management Act of 1989 (AB939).

Since February of this year, the Waste Board has been reviewing the progress of local governments in meeting this goal. In fact, at our September Board meeting a few weeks ago, the Board approved another 10 jurisdictions that have reached the 50 percent goal. This takes the number of approved jurisdictions to (205). Of those, 143 jurisdictions have exceeded the 50% goal; (20) have reached the 50% goal and (42) were approved as having made a “good faith effort” in reaching the 50% goal.

In addition, a number of jurisdictions have received approvals on their request for a time extension – providing these agencies with additional time -- as they continue to make progress in reaching the 50 percent goal. Since the September Board meeting, 70 jurisdictions have had their time extension approved. For those remaining jurisdictions, the Board will continue to evaluate and approve them on a monthly basis -- if they have met the 50% goal, or have shown a “good faith effort”.

We have also distributed awards to those jurisdictions that have met the 50% goal. If you have recently been approved, but have not received an award – here it is! Isn’t it beautiful? We are making arrangements to have more awards produced for your jurisdiction - as well as all other jurisdictions that have met the 50% goal by 2000 - to honor their accomplishment!
We are keeping a running list of Board approved jurisdictions on our web site as well. If you would like to see which jurisdictions have been approved, please go to the Press Room for further information. I think it is important to mention how fortunate we are that Governor Gray Davis has been supportive of our efforts to protect the environment, and carry out the mission of the Waste Management Board.

Now that the year 2000 has come and gone, the Board is looking at our next set of priorities. This brings us to the 2001 Strategic Plan – which does precisely that – it sets a number of policies in motion that we believe, will lead us toward a sustainable California. It provides us with a map for the future -- as we continue to preserve California’s resources for generations to come.

The Waste Board’s overall directive is to reduce waste, promote the management of materials for their highest and best use, and protect public health, safety and the environment, while overseeing California landfills.

This is not done in a vacuum – it is done with the help of our partners. That is why I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the local government representatives and stakeholders that are here today. Thank you for your commitment to the 50% goal, and for your commitment to the ongoing vision and policies of our 2001 Strategic Plan.
We will be initiating the goals of the Strategic Plan in years to come, and I thought it would be helpful to review them today.

  1. To increase participation in resource conservation, integrated waste management, waste prevention, and product stewardship to reduce waste and create a sustainable infrastructure.
  2. Assist in the creation and expansion of sustainable markets to support diversion efforts and ensure that diverted materials return to the economic mainstream.
  3. Educate the public to better understand and participate in resource conservation and integrated waste management strategies.
  4. Manage and mitigate the impacts of solid waste on public health and safety and the environment, and promote integrated and consistent permitting, inspection, and enforcement efforts.
  5. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Integrated Waste Management Board in pursuit of its mission.
  6. Continuously integrate environmental justice concerns into all of the Board’s programs and activities, including administrative and budgetary decisions.

    And, to……
  7. Promote a “zero waste California” where the public, industry, and government strive to reduce, reuse, or recycle all municipal solid waste materials back into nature or the marketplace in a manner that protects human health and the environment and honors the principles of California’s Integrated Waste Management Act.

That is why, I would like to ask that you join the Board in promoting a zero waste philosophy – one that utilizes our natural resources in the most efficient way possible. Now, I know some of you may think that a zero waste goal is improbable or impossible. But let us look at what zero waste truly means…

  • Zero waste maximizes recycling by ensuring that products are made to be reused, repaired, or recycled back into the environment.
  • Zero waste involves utilizing the most effective processing and manufacturing practices to efficiently conserve the use of raw materials, including front-end design for efficiency, and the education of consumers; along with
  • Promoting technology to encourage source reduction on the front end, and recycling along with other technologies at the back end.

So how do we plan to undertake this goal? By…

  • Increasing California’s procurement of recycled content products.
  • Periodically reviewing existing and proposed regulations and legislation for barriers to zero waste.
  • Continuing to work with jurisdictions to ensure they meet and/or exceed existing waste diversion mandates.

    And by,
  • Continuing to educate the public regarding the principles and opportunities that can be realized as a result of a zero waste strategy.

With such goals and objectives, I believe we can promote zero waste and develop a sustainable infrastructure as we continue our waste collection and diversion activities. Therefore, I think the Board’s principal message to the citizens of California is to think in terms of “sustainability”. By introducing sustainable solutions – we address a multitude of waste management concerns including: waste reduction, product stewardship, reusability, recycling, potential energy generation, and environmental justice – to name a few.

For our purposes, we define sustainability as, "creating economic, ecological, and social prosperity while ensuring that future generations will have the same opportunity to create their own prosperity.”

Therefore, we need to promote a resource-conscious view of the world, one in which the public will think about their discards as resources – and dismiss the idea that waste is an acceptable by-product of our culture.

Instead of merely managing waste, it is time to focus on California’s role in promoting markets for recyclable materials. To this end, the Board will continue to support and create new markets by continuing through:

Specialized grant and loan programs;

· Partnerships with local governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations;

· The annual Recycled Product Trade Show - to be held in Sacramento next year;

· New and creative deconstruction projects like the Presidio in San Francisco. This project demonstrates that old buildings – once thought unworthy of a second use – can provide us with valuable and usable materials like redwood, bricks and exterior siding;

· Demonstration projects that showcase the economic viability of compost operations and green building programs;

We encourage the ongoing funding of tire amnesty days; collection programs for household hazardous waste, and used oil-recycling activities. And our efforts don’t stop there. That is why we are working with state agencies throughout California to increase the procurement of recycled products

California state law requires that State agencies purchase certain materials, including paper, tires, oil and plastic goods (all made with recycled content) then track and report those purchases.
Since California is the biggest single purchaser of goods and products -- more than six billion dollars a year -- the State can have a tremendous impact on the market.

The ultimate goal and vision of the State Agency Buy Recycled Campaign is to have all state agencies “buy green” products and establish goals for the future that encourage the purchase of environmentally preferable products.

Currently we are in the process of conducting an evaluation of the State Agency Buy-Recycled Campaign. The intent of the evaluation is to give the Waste Board a brief assessment of the effectiveness of certain elements of the program and determine whether their performance could be strengthened and/or improved. The contract calls for a complete program assessment.

As we develop tangible solutions in our waste diversion efforts, I would also like to mention the sustainable landscaping program. For those of you involved with collection, you know that green waste is approximately one third of the waste stream in California.

That is why we are targeting the commercial landscape industry as we promote more sustainable on-site landscape management practices -- such as proper plant usage, plant spacing, the use of grasscycling, and reduced water and pesticides usage, while we promote the increased use and purchase of compost throughout the state. We are confident that these activities will lead to less green material generated and a reduction of waste, water and pollutants. A win – win for California’s resources.

When it comes to targeting new materials for collection, the Board will be reviewing a number of programs that addresses 16% of the waste stream still going to landfills, namely food residuals. These materials are valuable resources, and can be redirected from landfills to food banks, used as animal feed, or as feedstock in energy generation.

To facilitate the exchange of ideas, and to identify barriers for the collection and redirection of food residuals -- the Waste Board just held the first statewide conference on food residuals last week. The knowledge, innovations and ideas that were shared at the conference will be used to shape policy, develop assistance tools, and increase resource efficiency in our state.

There has also been a lot of press coverage on electronics lately. Many jurisdictions are implementing programs to collect products containing Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs); some are working with local haulers, while others are contracting with dismantlers. This relatively new interest in CRT collection is related to the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s classification of the CRT as a universal waste. The Department has also established regulations for the management of CRTs as a hazardous waste and has banned CRTs from California landfills.

As a result, local governments and many of you here today, have been faced with the challenge of building a viable electronics recycling infrastructure – and quickly.

Earlier this summer, the Waste Board held two workshops to solicit feedback on collection strategies, methodologies and possible solutions to the ever-increasing number of electronics stockpiled, as well as those entering California’s waste stream.

While some local governments report that the recycling costs for an average CRT is $15 to $25; workshop attendees stated that the true cost is closer to $60-$75.

As a result, many local governments are supporting extended producer responsibility and have called on industry to fully manage discarded electronics. Local jurisdictions are asking for funding assistance to expand “design for the environment” strategies, increase national promotion and market development efforts, introduce processor certification, and provide other information and assistance programs.

On the legislative front, two bills recently vetoed by the Governor would have created California’s first program for recycling computer and television monitors. The first bills of their kind introduced in California, they would have helped offset the cost of collection for CRTs and associated electronics throughout the state – developing a much-needed infrastructure.

However, in his veto message the Governor challenged industry to take a lead in solving California’s electronics disposal problem when he indicated that, “I am willing to sign legislation that challenges industry to assume greater responsibility for the recycling and disposal of electronic waste. Moreover, I believe that building a state bureaucracy to address this problem is not the best solution for managing electronic waste.

We should compel industry to solve this problem.”
This is definitely a call to action for the electronics industry! In fact, Governor Davis urged the electronics industry to develop a model similar to what the European Union has developed, requiring that manufacturers maintain responsibility for the safe recycling of the products they produce.

In closing, the Governor was very clear when he said, “There is no time to waste. I believe California should have a new law next year.” In the meantime, Board Member Paparian will be leading the effort on behalf of CalEPA to solicit input from stakeholders as outlined in the Executive Order. And, we have already begun to work on new legislation for next year, confident that industry will take up this challenge, and provide the much-needed leadership that we know they are capable of.

In addition, efforts to work with manufacturers through the National Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI) process continue as we look for a long-term front-end funding source, or an alternate solution. Perhaps we will see an agreement similar to the National Carpet Agreement, where manufacturers initiated a third-party organization to track statistics, provide support and ultimately fund operations and infrastructure development. Such an organization could also help to broker future agreements and legislation. It is only a matter of time and ingenuity when it comes to addressing electronic product stewardship solutions. In the meantime, the Waste Board will continue to advocate for product stewardship – as we look for proper collection and management solutions.

Through partnerships with businesses, associations, and state and federal agencies, California is strengthening its commitment to product stewardship initiatives. From a life-cycle perspective, we need to ensure that all players in the product chain ultimately share responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products.

Extended producer responsibility and product stewardship challenge us to reduce the environmental effects of products throughout their life cycle. When manufacturers share the costs of recycling their products, they have an incentive to design products that are less toxic, easier to recycle, and use recycled content feedstock.

Therefore, I would encourage you to attend one of the Board sponsored sessions on Thursday entitled “Product Stewardship – What Next?” Kit Cole, Moderator and Waste Board Advisor to Board Member Michael Paparian will lead the discussion and address the role of manufacturer responsibility. In this session, manufacturers, lobbyists and local government representatives will debate the future of product stewardship, including whether “advance disposal fees” and product stewardship can work in California.

For those of you involved with landfill management, I encourage you to join Board Member Steven Jones, on Thursday when he and his panel will highlight recent developments in landfill management and environmental controls. This session will address the California pilot MOLO course for landfill operators, along with state and local permitting and inspection personnel in partnership with SWANA and the Waste Board. Discussions of recent landfill bioreactor research and the results of a cross-media study commissioned by the Board will be discussed to see if current regulations are really providing effective environmental protection.

The Waste Board is also targeting conversion technologies such as hydrolysis and gasification. These processes can take organic materials that cannot be composted and low-grade paper that cannot be recycled and convert them into high-value products such as energy, ethanol, other fuels and industrial products. We are talking about 15 million tons of organics and 10 million tons of non-recyclable paper that is still being landfilled. Compare this to the 6-8 million tons of organics and 4-5 million tons non-recycable paper that are currently being recycled. We still have a way to go when it comes to these organic resources.

By exploring conversion technologies we are consistent with the second goal of the Strategic Plan, as we assist in the creation and expansion of sustainable markets, support diversion efforts and encourage the use of diverted materials.

Board Member Jose Medina has taken the lead on addressing the topic of border issues. He will moderate a session on Thursday that will address the ongoing efforts of the State of California and the City of San Diego – as they form a partnership and assist border cities in the establishment of state-of-the-art landfills in Mexico. The development of an infrastructure to accommodate the growing need of Mexican cities within the border region is essential to the protection of the environment and public health for both Mexican and American residents in this area. I am sure you will be hearing more about this in the future.

And for those of you involved in communication, education, and marketing, let me assure you that the Board is dedicated to the implementation of an integrated environmental education program for K-12 students. In fact, we have provided $1.5 million dollars to be distributed over the next two years, to help schools design programs that incorporate the principles of recycling and provide an environmental curriculum for the future. This is a program that is near and dear to my heart, as a past educator – and Mayor of Huntington Beach, I am very sensitive to what school districts face as they develop effective and efficient waste diversion and educational programs.
Following the passage of Senate Bill 373, now referred to as the School Diversion and Environmental Education Law (School DEEL), the Waste Board established the Office of Integrated Environmental Education to target an integrated approach to environmental education -- where decision-makers from academics, the administration, and school facilities work together to incorporate resource conservation and sustainability into their organizational philosophy, planning, and finally implementation schedules. I believe we can expect great things from our children if we provide the necessary environmental education, and this legislation will assist in that goal.

As you can, see the Waste Management Board is committed to programs that will preserve California for future generations. We are here to provide sustainable solutions as we implement the goals of the 2001 Strategic Plan and continue to serve as California’s environmental stewards.

By protecting our natural resources and by working with our stakeholders we can continue to reduce valuable resources sent to California landfills. As we provide continued education, new and creative diversion programs along with grant funding – I am confident that we will continue to lead California down the road to sustainability.

Instead of tossing our future away, we can make it brighter. By designing products for the environment, increasing educational outreach, working to improve landfill management, offering solutions that produce energy and alternative fuels, encouraging product stewardship for all products and expanding sustainable landscape practices and food residual collection programs – we can and will protect California’s resources.

But, above all else, we need to strengthen our market development efforts. We know that the success of our collection, recycling and waste diversion programs is predicated on the strength and development of these primary markets.

And, although you have heard it before, it bears repeating….

You’re not really recycling unless you’re buying recycled products.”

So together, let’s take the leap and purchase more recycled content products whenever possible. Consider implementing price preferences for your recycled content purchases, if you haven’t already. And finally, join us in Sacramento next year to see the latest and greatest in recycled-content products at the 2003 Recycled-Content Trade Show. Together, I believe we can preserve California’s resources, create a sustainable California and be proud of what we leave behind for future generations.

Thank you.

Linda Moulton-Patterson, Chair
California Integrated Waste Management Board
A speech from SWANA 2002 - Long Beach, CA
October 29, 2002

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