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San Francisco Trip
This year the National Recycling Congress (Congress) was held in San
Francisco. The California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA), the host of the first
(1980) and the ninth Congress (1990) has always used these events as
opportunities to organize locally.
To show case reuse, recycling and composting programs in the San Francisco
Bay Area, the Global Recycling Council (GRC) of the California Resource Recovery
Association (CRRA) organized an International Dialog on Proper Discard
Management on Thursday and Friday, August 26-27, 2004, in San Francisco. The Dialog
was organized with the help of the ALGALITA MARINE RESEARCH FOUNDATION,
Berkeley Ecology Center, CA INTEGRATED WASTE MANAGEMENT BOARD, Californians Against
Waste, City and County of San Francisco, Earth Resource Foundation, GARY LISS
& ASSOCIATES, GLOBAL RECYCLING COUNCIL OF CA RESOURCE RECOVERY ASSOCIATION,
GrassRoots Recycling Network, Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice,
LA SHARES, Northern CA Recycling Association, Oakland/Berkeley Recycling
Market Development Zone, RICHARD ANTHONY ASSOCIATES, Roplast Industries, Rose
Foundation, San Francisco Hilton Hotel, San Luis Obispo Integrated Waste Mgt.
Program, The Waste Reduction Project, Urban Ore, and the Zero Waste International
And on Saturday, August 28, 2004, the Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN),
organized the first national Zero Waste Action Conference in Oakland before the
Congress, with the help of AVEDA CORPORATION, HUGO NEU CORPORATION, Eco-Cycle,
Inc., Mitchell Kapor Foundation, Gary Liss & Associates, Green Business
Network, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Richard Anthony Associates, Alameda
County Recycling Board, Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Berkeley Ecology
Center, Californians Against Waste, CA Integrated Waste Management Board, City of
Oakland, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Global Recycling
Council, CRRA, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Northern CA
Recycling Association, and Urban Ore..
Because I would need the car to pick people from the airport and move
equipment around town and it is a nice drive up the coast, Debbie and I drove the
Hybrid up from San Diego to San Francisco. We stopped in San Luis Obisbo (SLO)
for lunch and picked up conference supplies and equipment from the SLO/IWMA.
We spent Monday walking downtown to check out the venues and the distances
between hotels and the convention center. That night we met up with Marianne
Walther and Albert Wyse who are organizing R’05 in Beijing (www.R05.org).
Together we took BART to the northeast SF Bay and had dinner with Dan Knapp and
Mary Lou Van Deventer of Urban Ore in Berkeley, CA. After dinner Dan and Mary
Lou showed us some rare art that was found in discards left at Urban Ore or
recovered from the landfill.
Tuesday Debbie flew home and Gary Liss and the rest of the group started to
arrive from other cities in California, the United States and the rest of the
world. The third meeting of the Zero Waste International Alliance
(www.ZWIA.0rg) was held on Wednesday. The first meeting was in Pennang Malaysia, the
second in Baumaris Wales. This third meeting clarified the membership rules,
established the website, and clarified responsibilities of the ZWIA Planning Group
and the Board of Directors. The goal of ZWIA is to work for a world without
waste through public education and practical application of Zero Waste
principles to protect the Zero Waste brand.
The International Dialog was amazing. We had folks from every continent on
the planet except Antarctica. After I opened and demonstrated the pace of a
ten minute talk, Jared Blumenfeld, Director of the San Francisco Department of
the Environment explained their adoption of the precautionary principal and
zero waste goals. Mike Paparian then reviewed the state Zero Waste goals and
challenged the group to go back and organize a zero waste community in their home
Neil Seldman from the Institute for Local Self Reliance and Gerry Gillespie,
Zero Waste Australia gave a historical and political rational for the e
volution of the zero waste approach. The chair of the board of GeoSnytec told the
group that most landfills leak and Peter Anderson a landfill expert told us that
the liability cost is in the billions. Manny Calonzo told us how the
citizens joined together and forced the Philippine government to ban incineration as
a method of disposal.
We finished out the day with speakers on clean production and waste
prevention programs from Canada, Belgium and the USA and a group dinner in an Indian
restaurant. Some of us retired early to prepare for one more day of dialog.
On Friday Miriam Gordon and Captain Charles Moore put together a workshop
that revealed the air, water and health impacts of plastics in the environment.
Discovery of plasticizers in the endocrine system and plastic in the bodies of
dead animals has raised the level of concern for this material in the
The Reuse, Recycling and Composting sessions validated what we thought about
the viability of these technologies to handle municipal discards and finally
at the end of the day speaking to nearly a full house, Dr. Paul Connett.
Always impassioned and compassionate, Paul showed videos of his travels looking for
organic pieces of zero. He left us with a lasting shot of a beautiful lake
in Japan drained to build an incinerator.
We all concluded that it was good to talk and that we should talk more. The
papers will be up on the GRC International Dialog part of the www.CRRA.com
website. We look forward to more of these dialogs in the future and see it as a
first step towards developing an International Resource Management Academy.
A few of us had dinner in North Beach. We met at City Lights and the moon
was full. The owner of the restaurant spoke Italian to Jean Marie Savino and
told us he was from the waste industry in southern Italy but thought owning a
restaurant was a better business. We agreed.
The workshop in Oakland went way beyond our expectations. Saturday morning
at the Federal building almost 200 campaigners showed up for America's first
national zero waste network action conference. First off, about a dozen of the
non US members of the group without their passports were forbidden entry with
no id. An international incident was avoided when an EPA employee vouched for
them and they were admitted.
Mayor Jerry Brown told us he was a recycled politician and was gong to run
for Attorney General (AG). In some state AG’s are suing polluting utilities as
public nuisances. The morning session critiqued existing technologies and
explained zero waste systems.
After a zero wasted lunch and a compassionate speech by Paul Connett and an
inspiring film by NCRA on the need for domestic markets for materials, we broke
into four working groups. 1. Zero Waste communities, 2. No new incinerators,
3. End land filling, and 4. Single use plastic packaging. After
brainstorming on organization and a closing talk by Randy Hayes, a group picture was taken
on the stairs of City Hall, and we finished the day with a reception at
Stefanie Pruegel’s house hosted by NCRA.
The next four days at the National Recycling Congress (NRC) were not quite as
amazing. The harbor trip was grand. The CRRA reception was fun. The
workshops were relevant. Coke won the election and I lost.
I think NRC needs a listserv of all NRC members to restore the involvement of
the grassroots that formed it. And NRC needs to take a stronger position on
packaging producer responsibility. My final reaction to these events is that
the Dialog and GRRN ZW Conference were euphoric exercises in science and
solidarity and the NRC was a reality check.
We still have a lot of work to do.
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