Governor Newsom Signs RethinkWaste Co-Sponsored Bills!

Today, Governor Newsom signed a sweeping package of climate measures into law, including all three of RethinkWaste’s co-sponsored bills from the 2021-2022 legislation session. The three bills are:

  • AB 1985 by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) – Organic waste: recovered organic waste product procurement targets.   
  • AB 2440 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) – Responsible Battery Recycling Act of 2022.          
  • SB 1215 by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) – Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003: covered battery-embedded products.            

AB 1985 will create a phase in of two additional years for SB 1383 procurement requirements.  SB 1215 and AB 2440 are two battery bills that will create a more comprehensive strategy to tackle household batteries and battery-embedded products. Specifically, SB 1215 expands the existing Electronic Waste Law to include battery-embedded products, while AB 2440 will create a producer responsibility program for loose batteries where manufacturers will fund and create a takeback program for their products. 

These three bills are major wins for California and we’re really excited about the signing of these three bills, especially the two battery bills – an issue RethinkWaste has been working on for over three years.

Learn more about proper battery disposal in our area by visiting our battery page: RethinkBatteries.org.

Why We Celebrate Earth Day

As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, and Earth Month as a whole this month, let’s take a moment to learn about how this massive political and environmental movement began. Earth Day is a celebration of our planet and all it does for us, but it is also a stark reminder of the actions we must take in order to protect the Earth’s natural beauty and its inhabitants.

The first Earth Day took place in 1970 in response to the growing degree of air and water pollution in the United States, with universities and colleges as the epicenter of the movement. Senator Gaylord Nelson helped start the Earth Day movement with the help of Stanford University student Denis Hayes. The major catalyst for the Earth Day campaign was a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in January of 1969.

Earth Day has long been associated with public demonstrations in favor of environmental protectionism and environmental justice. The first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans, or 10% of the American population at the time, participate in some fashion, either by demonstrating in the streets or parks or attending an Earth Day talk or event. The U.S. Government created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed many laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Education Act, partly in response to the Earth Day movement and the growing public outcry against industrial pollution.

In 1990, Earth Day became an international movement, with 200 million people in 141 countries around the world participating. The first United Nations Earth summit took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. Earth Day 2020 marked 50 years of a still very active movement for climate action embraced by people young and old in every corner of the globe. Despite the international participation in the Earth Day movement, we still have a long way to go to protect our planet.

Here are some actions you can take today and tips to celebrate Earth Day and Earth Month in the spirit of the movement:

  1. Learn more by watching a film or reading a book about environmental justice or other environmental issues.
  2. Practice mindfulness while enjoying Earth’s natural beauty. Get outside and take a hike, and remember to “pack in and pack out” anything you bring with you.
  3. Join an Earth Day demonstration or clean-up. Check your city’s website for any events that may be happening locally during Earth Month. Check out this article for more events happening around the Bay Area. The City of San Mateo also has several events listed on their website.
  4. Make an effort to conserve natural resources. Some ideas are biking or walking instead of driving, taking a shorter shower, going meatless for Earth Day, and considering drought-resistant, native, and pollinator-friendly plants.
  5. Connect with nature through gardening. Consider planting a tree or get started on your Spring herb garden!
  6. Consider switching to reusable products and divesting from single-use plastic as much as possible in your daily life. You can even take a plastic free pledge!
  7. Attend one of RethinkWaste’s Earth Month events! Visit this page for more details on our Environmental Justice film screening on Thursday, April 21st at 5 p.m.!

There are so many different ways to celebrate Earth Day by connecting with nature and conserving resources! Share how are you are celebrating this year by tagging us on social media on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook! However you choose to celebrate this year, remember that you don’t need to wait until April 22nd to adopt eco-friendly habits and advocate for the Earth in your daily life.




Celebrating Women Environmental Changemakers

When it comes to environmental activism and innovation, change can feel like a daunting obstacle to overcome. Human-induced climate change is already starting to impact populations across the world in different ways, disproportionately affecting women and people of color. At RethinkWaste, we believe in the power of small, collective actions as a driving force of change. Take a moment to find inspiration in the women of this article, who’ve transformed the landscape of environmental leaders around the world and continue to inspire us as changemakers.

JoAnn Tall – For decades, the Lakota tribe in South Dakota have been resisting the exploitation of their sacred land for the purposes of uranium mining, hazardous waste dumping, nuclear weapon testing, and more. In 1989, the U.S government made plans to mine the hills near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to JoAnn Tall. Tall, at times standing alone before tribal council, urged leadership to refuse the incentives from the government in the interest of protecting the people and the land.

Tall’s lifelong activism has prevented thousands of acres of Lakota land from becoming landfill and incinerator sites. She later co-founded the Native Resource Coalition, which worked to spread awareness to Lakota people on the interconnectivity of environmental and human health. In 1993, JoAnn was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her leadership and activism.

Photo Credit: Camacho

Rhiana Gunn-Wright – You’ve probably heard of the Green New Deal (A set of resolutions first presented in 2019 aimed at driving U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2030) – but have you heard the voices behind it? Among them is Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who worked on developing the Green New Deal as a policy director at the think tank New Consensus. According to an interview with The Root, Riana’s passion for environmental policy is linked closely to her drive to educate, mobilize, and uplift black and brown communities that are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis.

Gunn-Wright holds two bachelor’s degrees in African American studies and Women’s Gender studies from Yale. She earned a Master of Philosophy as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and continues to address the intersection of environmental and racial justice as the Director of Climate Policy at the Roosevelt Institute.

Miranda Wang – It’s no secret that plastics are a huge problem in the waste and recycling industry. At the end of the day, humans are generating way more plastic than we can responsibly recycle or dispose of. Miranda Wang, Cofounder and CEO of Novoloop, is tackling the plastics problem from a molecular angle, starting in the laboratory. Novoloop collects post-consumer Polyethylene plastics (what we often call “flimsy plastics”) and breaks them down using patented technology to be utilized in upcycled plastic production. Wang, 28, has big plans for the company’s future. Her team is actively working to scale their process up to a commercial level, diverting about 25,000 metric tons of plastic annually and bringing a plastic circular economy closer every day.

Wangari Maathai – The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a Ph.D., Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, author, mother, and environmentalist are just a few ways to describe the extraordinary life of Wangari Maathai. In 1976, Maathai started a radical movement in Kenya that empowered women to stand up against the deforestation and environmental degradation that was affecting their communities. Known as the Green Belt Movement, the women’s work in planting and nurturing trees later grew into a globally recognized environmental advocacy organization.

The Green Belt Movement organization continues to plant millions of trees in restoration projects throughout Kenya, while working to advocate for food security, clean water, gender equality, and more across the globe. Wangari Maathai’s legacy continues to serve as inspiration for the power of grassroots organizing and female empowerment.

Research shows that educating and uplifting women is one of the most significant actions humans can take to curb the effects of climate change. While this list includes some of our favorites, there are so many more women of color making waves in the fields of sustainability, environmental justice and activism, waste, and beyond. Take a moment now to celebrate the women who inspire you, as we continue to take steps towards a greener future.



New CA Law: Organics Out of the Landfill

Have you been noticing a push for composting in your community? Are you receiving more messaging about proper waste sorting? There’s a reason you’re seeing increased outreach about compost, waste reduction, and perhaps even information about the greenhouse gas methane. Back in 2016, California passed a statewide law called Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383) to reduce harmful emissions in our environment. CalRecycle, the governing body responsible for creating SB 1383 regulatory standards, identified a large source of methane is found in landfills, specifically from organic, compostable material (meaning food scraps, food/beverage soiled paper, and yard trimmings).

SB 1383 impacts all generators of organic, compostable material, which means the law impacts all residents and commercial businesses in California. All generators are now required to properly sort their waste, by either placing food scraps, food/beverage soiled paper products, and yard trimmings in the compost, or self-hauling compostable material to a composting facility or program. Jurisdictions (cities, counties and special districts) have the authority to assess a fine for non-compliance.

To further inform the public of this law, RethinkWaste hosted two community town halls where CalRecycle, Recology, and RethinkWaste staff presented on how the law affects residents and businesses and fielded questions from attendees. Below are some of the common questions we received.

1. How does the law impact schools?

Schools will subscribe to compost and recycle services. In San Mateo County, many will also likely incorporate food share tables to reduce food waste on-site.

2. How does the law impact condos and apartments?

If not already subscribed to compost services, condos and apartments will need to reach out to Recology San Mateo County to begin services. Recology will assess the property and work collaboratively with property managers to provide technical assistance, trainings, waste audits, and educational materials for property managers and residents. Reach out to Recology through their online contact form.

3. How will this impact apartment buildings that do not have space for additional trash receptacles?

Once property managers begin the process of adding compost services to their apartments or condos, Recology’s Waste Zero team will work closely with property managers and/or staff to assess garbage services and space limitations to right-size their services.

4. Where can we find resources for proper sorting in each bin?

Visit com where you can choose your specific city and use Recology’s searchable list to find out where certain items go. Feel free to also check out RethinkWaste’s sorting page for images of signage along with waste reduction tips.

5. How will the state enforce compliance?

Compliance will fall on jurisdictions (cities, counties or special districts). CalRecycle will handle compliance for public schools, state, federal facilities, and any entities that city or county jurisdictions don’t have authority over. However, jurisdictions are still responsible for outreach and education.

SB 1383 will be a challenge well worth-it, and here in the RethinkWaste service area, we have been very proactive about its implementation. We will continue to work with our community partners to comply with SB 1383 regulations and welcome more community partners to get involved in the pressing issue of climate change.

Have you ever thought about the environment of a landfill? Items that end up at a landfill get buried into the ground and packed tightly into the Earth, where it sits for years. When compostable material breaks down in an environment like the landfill, there’s no oxygen for the material to properly break down, causing it to release the potent greenhouse gas methane. Eliminating organic materials from ever reaching the landfill is one way we can all do our part in fighting climate change.

For more information, visit our SB 1383 webpage.

New Mural at the Shoreway Environmental Center

In-person tours of the Shoreway Environmental Center engage most of the senses: the smell of the Transfer Station, the sound of bulldozers picking up loads of materials, and the view of piles of waste that one has to see to believe. As of July 2021, Shoreway has added a beautiful new sight to see and touch: a delightfully captivating mural and accompanying waste education displays! 

While the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person activities, the lull in tours allowed RethinkWaste to brainstorm a new project. In an effort to utilize the blank wall space in the hallway of the Shoreway Education Center, RethinkWaste staff drafted a mural idea that educates visitors about the realities of landfills and ocean plastic pollution. The wonderful Bay Area Muralist, Hayley Ferreira, and her assistant Gustavo were able to bring our ideas to life! 

Before: Muralist Hayley Ferreira and assistant Gustavo assessing Shoreway display before mural project.
After: Newly painted mural and interactive displays.

The new 40-foot mural covers a range of content, including a map of the RethinkWaste service area, an explanation of a landfill’s anatomy, and a depiction of the harm done to sea life when human-made plastic clogs our oceans. In addition, the hallway now contains two educational displays with a total of 20 informative fun-facts about everyday items, waste vocabulary, and ecology.   

One of RethinkWaste’s main goals is to show where waste can end up, why we need to change our waste habits, and the importance of waste reduction. By experiencing the Shoreway facility tour and observing the new mural, we hope that guests will be inspired to take action against waste.  

In-person tours of the Shoreway Environmental Center remain unavailable at the moment, but be sure to look out for this fascinating new display when tours resume! We can’t wait for visitors to learn more about waste while visiting our facility.  In the meantime, you can still sign up for a virtual public tour and check the RethinkWaste website or our social media to stay up to date on the status of in-person tours.  

Recycling Truck Catches Fire in San Mateo

On April 2, 2021, a Recology San Mateo County rear end loader truck carrying recyclables experienced a fire at approximately 5:20 a.m. The driver is safe, though the truck could not be recovered due to fire damage. The fire occurred on East Santa Inez Ave near Highland Ave in San Mateo. The City of San Mateo Police and Fire departments arrived on scene and extinguished the fire inside the truck as well as some minor burning of bushes near the truck location. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

While we don’t know the exact cause of the fire that occurred inside the truck, it could have easily been due to a lithium-ion battery that was incorrectly placed into the recycling. RethinkWaste continues to emphasize the need for safe and proper disposal to avoid the hazards of fires, which can result in safety risks for our workers, environment, and even facility. In September 2016, our Shoreway Environmental Center’s Materials Recovery Faility suffered a four-alarm fire that caused nearly $8.5 million in damages likely due to a lithium-ion battery.

For tips or best practices on safe battery disposal, please visit RethinkBatteries.org and our social media channels for information.

Attention Atherton Residents: New Service Information

On September 16, 2020, the Town of Atherton’s Council voted in favor of exiting the South Bayside Waste Management Authority Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and to finalize contract negotiations with GreenWaste Recovery for recycling, compost, and solid waste services. 

This means that the current contract the Town of Atherton has with Recology San Mateo County for waste collection services will expire on December 31, 2020.  

Please review the GreenWaste Atherton webpage for more information about the transition and information about new services, rates, and more. General questions and answers for residents can be found below.

The Town of Atherton has been a longtime valued member of the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA/RethinkWaste) and we respect their decision.

Atherton customers can direct all inquiries regarding new services and rates that will begin January 1, 2021 to GreenWaste Recovery at (650) 798-5999 or by visiting the GreenWaste Atherton webpage.

This section highlights general questions and answers for Atherton residents to refer to.

1. Why will Recology no longer be my waste hauler?

The Town of Atherton decided at its September Town Council to exit the Joint Powers Authority. All information regarding the exit can be found here.

2. When will I no longer have Recology as my waste hauler?

Effective January 1, 2021, your new waste hauler will be GreenWaste.

3. What will happen to my carts?

Your Recology carts will be removed at the same time your new carts are delivered on your service day. According to Recology and GreenWaste, the cart replacement process will begin on January 18, 2021 and will occur during a 3-4 week period. Set all carts in their service location by 6:30am on your service day, even if they are empty. GreenWaste and Recology are using the same cart removal/delivery subcontractor to minimize the opportunity for disruption. You will receive the same size and number of carts you currently have based on the information in Recology’s database. More information on Recology‘s and GreenWaste‘s websites

4. Will my carts get serviced if my regular collection day falls on Christmas and New Year’s Day?

There are no collection services on Christmas Day. Friday customers, whose Recycling, Compost, and Garbage service falls on Christmas Day, will be serviced on Saturday, December 26, 2020 by Recology San Mateo County. Please have carts out by 6:00 a.m. for regular collection services.

There is also no collection services on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2021. If your service day is on this day, your service collection day will be on Saturday, January 2, 2021 by GreenWaste.

5. What do I do with my holiday tree?

Holiday tree collection services will occur through GreenWaste since Recology’s new holiday tree schedule is now January 2 – 31.

Households wanting to dispose of their holiday trees (non-flocked trees) before January 1 should place holiday trees inside their green compost cart. If the tree is larger than 8 feet, please cut trees in half and place inside green compost carts. Please remove all decorations and tree stands.

6. How will the waste hauler changing affect my costs?

All information about new services and costs with GreenWaste can be found on their website at: https://www.greenwaste.com/service_area/atherton/

7. Can I still drop off at the Shoreway Transfer Station and Public Recycling Center?

Yes, the Shoreway Transfer Station and Public Recycling Center are open to all members of the public.

Join Us for Rethink Recycling Days!

This year, we are celebrating Rethink Recycling Day by hosting two full days of virtual tours and workshops in partnership with local experts from community-focused businesses and organizations.

If you want to see where your waste goes, heal your sick houseplant, keep your food fresher for longer, or fix a broken appliance in your home, join us virtually on Saturday, November 7th and Saturday, November 14th for these no-cost offerings:

  • Virtual Shoreway Tours
  • Houseplant Care & Home Herb Garden How-To – Presented by Lyngso Garden Materials
  • Waste Bingo & Crafts for Kids!
  • Virtual Fixit Clinic
  • Sourdough for Starters – Presented by Zero Waste Chef
  • Food Safety How-To’s: Storing, Identifying Imperfect Produce & Jamming – Presented by Master Food Preservers
  • Mental Health Resiliency & Coping w/ Climate Change – Presented by Resource Innovation Group
  • Get to Know Your Community Partners – Presented in conjunction with Recology San Mateo County, South Bay Recycling, Peninsula Clean Energy, San Mateo County Parks & Office of Sustainability
  • Happy Hour w/ RethinkWaste Executive Director & Poster Contest Winner Recognition

Sign up for the workshops are required and information on how to sign-up and more information about Rethink Recycling Days can be found at: rethinkwaste.org/rrd

RethinkWaste COVID-19 Updates

General RethinkWaste information

  • Where can I find updates about RethinkWaste’s actions on COVID-19?
    • You can find updates on the Latest News section of our website. You can also follow our social media channels for updates!
  • Are Brown Act meetings still occurring?
    • Brown Act meetings (such as Board of Directors, Technical Advisory Committee, Finance Committee meetings, etc.) are still occurring virtually. For more information, visit our meetings page.
  • Is the RethinkWaste administrative office above the library still open?
    • No. The City of San Carlos has directed that the library building remain closed, so all Staff have been working remotely.
  • I have questions for RethinkWaste, how can I best contact you?
    • You may email us at info@rethinkwaste.org or leave a voicemail at our main line (650) 802-3500. Staff will return emails and voicemails within one-two business days.

Shoreway Environmental Center/South Bay Recycling Information

  • Can I still drop items off at the Public Recycling Center in San Carlos?
    • No. The Shoreway Public Recycling Center in San Carlos is temporarily closed. Check Latest News or social media channels for updates.
  • Can I still drop items off at the Transfer Station In San Carlos?
    • Yes. The Shoreway Transfer Station in San Carlos has reopened to the public. Hours are Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m. -6 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. All site employees and visitors are required to use masks and observe all mandated social distancing measures while on site.
  • Can I still pick up free compost?
    • Yes. Now that the Transfer Station has reopened, residents of the RethinkWaste service area can obtain up to two 50-pound bags of compost free of charge. Bags and shovels are provided, though residents are welcome to bring their own gloves, shovels, and residents must load the compost themselves. Find more information here.
  • Are recyclable items still being sorted?
    • Yes. Recyclables are still being sold to domestic and international markets.
  • Are there precautions in place for South Bay Recycling workers at the Shoreway facility?
    • Workers at the Shoreway facility are practicing physical distancing with required protective equipment with increased cleaning and sanitizing of workspaces and common areas.
  • Can I put my masks, gloves, wipes, or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the recycling or compost?
    • No, these always belong in the garbage even if the label says biodegradable. They contaminate the recycling stream and provide a health risk for facility workers.

Collection Services/Recology Information

  • I was notified that Bulky Item Collections (BIC) have been paused. When can I reschedule?
    • BIC services resumed on May 4th. Recology will complete all previously scheduled appointments that were suspended first. New appointments will be booked and serviced beginning the week of May 11th.
  • Have the kinds of items that go into the recycling cart changed?
    • Items that belong in each cart has not changed. Please continue to use your recycling, compost, and garbage carts as normal. If you need help knowing which item goes where, check out our residents page.
  • Are all three streams (compost, recycling, garbage) still being collected?
    • Yes. Compost, recycling, and garbage are all still being collected by Recology San Mateo County and processed at the Shoreway Environmental Center.
  • Will my service schedule change due to COVID-19?
    • At the moment, there are no service schedule changes for residential customers.
  • Can I still dispose of household batteries by placing them on top of my black garbage cart?
    • Yes. Residents in single-family homes can still place batteries in a clear zip-top bag on top of your black garbage cart on your regular collection day.
    • Some apartments or condominiums participate in Recology’s battery collection program. If so, collect batteries in a clear zip-top bag and place inside the orange bucket normally found in common areas such as a lobby, multi-use room, mailroom, or club house. If you don’t see one at your location, ask your property manager or owner to get a bucket for your building(s) from Recology San Mateo County.

Bulky Item Collection Temporarily Suspended

Updated May 2, 2020

Recology has reinstated the Bulky Item Collection Program to new requests. Please be patient as there may be a backlog of residents wanting to use this program.

March 30, 2020

To prioritize the safety of their employees, customers, and the communities they serve, Recology San Mateo County has taken the precautionary measure to temporarily suspend the Bulky Item Collection Program in the RethinkWaste service area as of March 30, 2020. The Bulky Item Collection Program requires human handling of the materials, whereas weekly garbage collection is performed by mechanical means. The temporary suspension of this program avoids further risk of exposure of Recology Staff, while still providing other essential waste collection services, such as recycling, organics and solid waste collection services.

For more information, please visit the Recology website.

Please check back here or our social media channels for the latest updates on when the service will be available again.

Please note that recycling, composting, and garbage services are still occurring for residents and businesses by Recology San Mateo County in the RethinkWaste service area as this is an essential infrastructure service. Please continue to place carts out the night before your normal collection day to ensure proper service.