Daily Digest: Pacific Coast sets 2030 food waste goal, scientists posit new ocean plastic patches
In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
A NEW PACIFIC PLEDGE
This week's Global Climate Action Summit, hosted by C40 Cities in San Francisco, has generated a laundry list of announcements and pledges. Waste can sometimes get overlooked amid these broader climate discussions, but it was in the spotlight yesterday with a sweeping new pledge for action around organics.
The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) — a consortium of U.S. and Canadian governments — has agreed to a regional goal of cutting food waste 50% by 2030. Chief among this group are the states of Washington, Oregon and California; the province of British Columbia; and the cities of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Vancouver. The announcement came at an event co-hosted with ReFED, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund.
The PCC partners have committed to engaging with "industry, food retailers and brand manufacturers" in the effort to prevent food waste throughout the entire supply chain. According to PCC, this will entail a focus on upstream prevention, rescue of edible food for donation and recovery of remaining organic material via anaerobic digestion or composting. Citing research from the Marin Carbon Project, the PCC particularly emphasizes potential emissions sequestration benefits from composting.
Like the 2015 EPA goal this pledge is based on, as well as the UN Sustainable Development goal it mirrors, the PCC commitment is of course still a voluntary one. Whether these Pacific partners will come close to their collective target — or whether anyone will actually remember to hold them accountable in 12 years time — remains to be seen.
As noted in the release, all of these jurisdictions have also already set their own targets and in many cases begun taking aggressive steps to address the environmental consequences of wasted food. The hope is that by working together on regional strategies, they can find new ways to drive progress on their respective aims.
In a time when some waste industry executives are still skeptical of the costs around organic diversion — even in states where they're offering it to align with regulatory requirements or incentives — such a pledge is not insignificant. According to PCC, the Pacific Coast of North America is home to 55 million people, has a combined GDP of $3 trillion and unofficially constitutes the world's fifth largest economy.
IN OTHER NEWS
Municipal Measurement Program aims to bring standardization to the local level — Waste Dive
The Recycling Partnership and Re-TRAC Connect have launched a free beta version of a local counterpart to the long-running State Measurement Program. We've got more on how this fits into the broader standardization discussion around waste and recycling metrics.
A 31-year-old employee of V. Garofalo & Sons Carting was killed after being struck by a motorcyclist in Yaphank, a community on Long Island. Police say the motorcycle was traveling "at a high rate of speed" before the collision occurred. Both men were taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, where the sanitation worker was pronounced and the motorcyclist remains in critical condition.
Eight arrested on container fraud charges in California — Press Release
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline recently announced the latest move in an ongoing effort to stop illegal out-of-state container redemption. This includes the arrest of eight people involved in multiple operations throughout two counties during June, July and August. The California Department of Justice’s Recycling Fraud Team recovered more than 56,000 pounds of material worth an estimated $82,853 in potential redemption value.
Sustainable Packaging Coalition branches into online training — Press Release
Building on the long-running "Essentials of Sustainable Packaging" series that involved classes at corporate offices, the nonprofit is now taking its work online with multiple training courses available on a subscription basis. The core Essentials course includes three hours of foundational content around packaging's life cycle, including "sourcing, design, use, recovery, and beyond." Two shorter additional courses, "The Essentials of Bioplastics" and "The Essentials of Sourcing Fiber" are also being offered.
Could there be two more ocean plastic patches? — The Independent
Researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. are out with new work suggesting there could be large accumulations of plastic under the surface in Gulf of Guinea region and the East Siberian Sea. The vast majority of projected ocean plastic is currently unaccounted for, likely because up to 70% of it falls to the ocean floor. The scientists behind this work say it will still need to be verified with on-site measurements and testing. In addition to the five known gyres of marine debris in the world's oceans, of which the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" often gets the most attention, other research has also found plastic in regions as remote as the Arctic Ocean.
SEEN & HEARD
Making money off trash with the CFO of Waste Management — Yahoo Finance Podcast
This podcast with Waste Management CFO Devina Rankin may have come out last week, and appears to be an extended version of an interview done in August, but it's still well worth a listen. In addition to thoughts on recycling, the corporate tax cut, and why she believes the waste industry is "recession-resilient" and can "do well in just about any economic environment," Rankin also discusses her 16-year career path with company and why "women are an untapped resource for our business.”
ON THE AGENDA
- Webinar: EPA - Advancing Sustainable Materials Management Facts and Figures 2015 Report (1 p.m. EDT). A presentation of the agency's latest annual waste and recycling data, including information on the transition to a web-based format.
- Webinar: EPA - Making the Case for Recycling 101 (2 p.m. EDT). The first of a two-part series developed by RRS for EPA Region 4, this webinar focus on the "Solid Waste Funding and Accounting Guide" that "can help to determine costs based on full-cost accounting and identify areas of funding." Officials from Rutherford County, North Carolina will also share their experiences.
Do you have other events or webinars that should be on our agenda this week? Email [email protected]
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