If you’ve been to a sustainability conference in the last year, you’ll agree that food waste is often the “topic du jour”. My fascination with organics management really took off after I had the opportunity to hear Jen Rustemeyer & Grant Baldwin present at the Washington State Recycling Conference in 2014. They produced and directed “Just Eat It” a documentary that asks the questions:
“Why are we throwing over 40% of our food in the garbage?” “How much of it is edible?”
These aren’t easy questions to answer but I was sure that I wanted to be a part of the solution so this week I attended the City of Winnipeg’s Organics Diversion Strategy Symposium. Here’s the symposium synopsis:
We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend recycling conferences across North America each year. This year has already seen many noteworthy events including Kyle Wiens’ keynote at AOR and National Recycling Coalition President, Mark Lichtenstein’s presentation at the Michigan Recycling Conference. Now entering it’s sixth year, the Resource Recycling Conference (RRC) has been the gathering place for industry leaders across the continent and this year will not disappoint. We are extremely excited for this year’s RRC in Indianapolis, IN and here are our top five reasons why:
Plastic bags and other polyethylene film wraps (i.e. dry cleaning and bread bags, case wrap on paper goods and drink bottles, and other plastic films) can be a huge headache for MRFs, but let’s face it, they aren’t going away. The good news is that Re-TRAC users have tools available at their fingertips to make a big difference. The Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) helps reduce or eliminate unwanted plastic film from the curbside stream by directing it to where it is wanted – the retail collection infrastructure. WRAP provides educational and outreach tools for state agencies, local jurisdictions, and community organizations looking for a way to manage plastic bags and film in their communities.
If you could travel back in time, what would be the one thing you would bring with you?
Most of you will probably answer “the winning lottery ticket numbers”, “my computer” or “detailed instructions on how to build the time machine in case it breaks and I need to get back”. I would bring back an air-powered nail gun.
Why a nail gun? Witnessing the expression of awe on a home builder’s face when you drive a nail into a 2×4 in a millisecond would be the ultimate moment. Tools have the ability to transform a routine task: finish it faster, improve the quality of the finished product, and even improve the experience of the user. I experienced the opposite transformation a few weeks ago when Darryl (one of our Re-TRAC Connect developers) and I volunteered to build homes for Habitat for Humanity.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation at the Sustainable Oregon conference, organized by the Association of Oregon Recyclers. The presentation entitled “Sustainable Consumption: Why, What, and How?” was delivered by David Allaway (Oregon DEQ) and Lauren Norris (City of Portland). In the presentation, David and Lauren shared highlights from a recent workshop held in Eugene, OR. The Role of Cities in Advancing Sustainable Consumption workshop consisted of academic researchers and policy experts seeking to explore actions that cities can take towards achieving a more sustainable consumption rate at the local level.
In the year 2015, it’s hard to accept the fact that advancements in technology alone will not solve the over-consumption problem we have created on its own. David Allaway spoke of the global consumption crisis that is upon us – our global ecological footprint is equal to approximately 1.5 of the Earth’s. What does that mean?
Our team is all geared up for the annual Bike to Work day in Winnipeg. An average Spring => Fall day in our office sees the bike rack filled to the brim, and tomorrow will be no different. The City of Winnipeg is hosting the 8th annual celebration and have quite the party planned. 60 pit stops will be available throughout the town to hand out beverages, bike repairs and prizes.
A number of Re-TRAC Connect programs were featured in the news last month. Here’s the recap:
Ontario Waste Management Association looks to close the data gap
How do I stack up against the rest of the sector? How do I determine our baseline in order to measure success or failure?
These are some of the questions that Rob Cook, CEO of the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA), set out to answer with the help of Re-TRAC Connect. He determined that the first step towards assisting his member organizations in answering these questions is to start with province-wide data collection from landfills. OWMA aims to expand the program to other facilities by the end of this year. Rob Cook was recently profiled in the Solid Waste & Recycling news.
Things are heating up in our office! Several Emergineers are competing this spring to see who can grow the best peppers.
To keep it interesting (like gardening isn’t riveting enough!), a PEPPER CHALLENGE has been proposed. The rules are simple – milestones in the lives of our peppers will be tracked and a point will be assigned to each milestone. The most points at the end wins and is crowned the Pepper Champion!
We developed a bingo card (Earth Day edition) with the goal of completing the whole thing so each of us pledged to complete a square. Some were easier than others (Cathie made sure she took the stairs to our fourth story office instead of using the elevator this morning) and I have pledged to ‘Slay vampire energy’ when I get home tonight.