Wasting Zero Time on the Road to Sustainable Recycling: Recycling campaigns advance in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Milwaukee

June 4, 2013 -- Partnership for Working Families

The Don’t Waste LA Coalition moved a giant step closer to transforming LA’s commercial trash system when the City Council recently voted to enact an implementation plan that puts environmental, community, and worker well being at the top of the waste management priority list.  Now, the City begins developing the Request for Proposals (RFPs) and enabling ordinances, and concurrently, an environmental impact report (EIR) under California’s environmental regulatory regime. Still, the approved implementation plan lays out a structure that will make Los Angeles a model for the nation.  Karla Campos, an American Reclamation employee who was fired during a Teamster organizing campaign said: 

“It means a lot because we are moving forward, not only for my co-workers but for the whole industry. A lot of things are going to change in a positive way – there will be more recycling, cleaner air. It will be better for everyone, not just for the workers but the whole community.”

Partnership affiliate, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), and the Don’t Waste LA Coalition also promoted zero waste culture with a  special showing of Trashed, an new documentary featuring Jeremy Irons, on June 19.  Look for showings elsewhere: www.trashedmovie.com.

On May 28, members of the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling in Oakland, led by Partnership affiliate, the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), the Sierra Club, and ILWU International, testified about the importance of a source separated mandatory "3rd bin" for compost for multi-family housing, to be codified through the City of Oakland's upcoming waste and organics franchise agreement. This is a win-win-win issue, generating better quality compost, equity of service for low-income households, and source separation of compost that workers at the processing facilities support. 

In Milwaukee, Partnership affilaite, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, is working with Aldermen and members of the Mayor’s Green Team to shape the City’s vision for waste through 2040, as well as a forthcoming RFP for a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).  Citizen Action envisions the MRF as a catalyst for local economic development, and has urged the City to build a comprehensive Resource Recovery Park rather than an old-style sorting facility.  A Resource Recovery Park groups reuse and manufacturing businesses around the MRF, so that recovered materials can go immediately into new productive use.  Doing so multiplies the job creation potential of the MRF, while reducing emissions from waste truck traffic, landfilling, and incineration.