Make the Journey on the Road to Zero Waste

March 18, 2014

Join SWANA at our third Road to Zero Waste Conference to be held in Monterey, California, on March 23-26, 2014.

Tim Flanagan, director of SWANA’s Recycling and Special Waste Technical Division, urges colleagues to: “Follow our footsteps, but don’t make our mistakes”. At the Road to Zero Waste Conference, learn how communities began the journey to zero waste and adopted the strategies and policies necessary to achieve their zero waste goals. Discover how communities integrated their management systems for collection, processing, recycling, communication, education, marketing and public education, and established public-private partnerships to establish effective zero waste systems.

Day 1: Organics, Food Waste and Anaerobic Digestion

The first day of the conference, Monday, March 24, will focus on food and organic waste recycling, including anaerobic digestion (AD). Food and organic wastes are one of the largest remaining waste streams that needs to be addressed to achieve zero waste goals. The keynote session will examine how a large city, San José, California, significantly increased its waste diversion with a large-scale mixed waste MRF and an AD facility that processes the organic residuals and produces renewable energy plus compost. A representative of each of the major players-the City, its consultants, the collectors, and processors-will describe how this initiative unfolded and was carried out.

Monday morning also will include a presentation on the Monterey Regional Municipal Waste District (MRWMD) anaerobic digester facility that will be the subject of a facility tour to be conducted on Wednesday. A second session will cover how San Francisco Bay Area communities this year will complete an AD facility to create biogenic compressed natural gas for use in fueling heavy duty collection vehicles and exceeding the statewide greenhouse gas reduction goals.

A highlight of Monday afternoon will be a presentation by Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Regional Administrator for Region 9, who will speak on “Reaching for Zero Waste.” Additional Monday sessions will cover organics recycling at special events such as the President’s Cup, Pebble Beach Pro Am, Big Sur International Marathon and NFL, NHL and NASCAR events. The day will wrap up with a session on the challenges and successes of collecting and transporting food waste from residences and businesses to recycling facilities.

Day 2: Extended Producer Responsibility and the Future of Zero Waste

Through extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulatory programs, producers are held responsible for end-of-life management of their products and packaging. EPR has been used on a wide-scale basis throughout Canada and for specific wastes at the state level in the United States. Tuesday’s program will cover the successful use of EPR for wastes such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, batteries and paint wastes. A panel will debate the application of EPR to printed paper and packaging.

Another session will cover the role of stakeholder groups in EPR programs, market based approaches to EPR and the development of policy frameworks to support this innovative concept. The day will close with a facilitated audience discussion of the future of zero waste.

Day 3: Tour MRMWD AD Facility

The Wednesday morning facility tour of the MRWMD will highlight the district’s 63-year history of providing disposal, recycling and diversion services on the Monterey Peninsula. Tour participants get an in-depth look at the district’s innovative programs supporting zero waste including the Last Chance Mercantile reuse store and the SMARTFERM dry AD pilot project that became operational in March 2013. This project, developed in partnership with Zero Waste Energy (ZWE), is processing 5,000 tons per year of food and green waste and producing 100 kW of electricity which is sold to the neighboring waste water treatment plant.

This conference is a joint effort of three of SWANA’s Technical Divisions, the Recycling and Special Waste Division, the Collection and Transfer Division, and the Communication, Education & Marketing Division. Thank you to the leaders of these divisions for their collaboration in bringing forward an innovative and informative program on an important and timely subject.

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