National Zero Waste Conference Program

See our list of confirmed speakers.

MARCH 16, 2020 – Recycling Pioneers Tribute & Reuse Tour

7:30-9:30 pm– Urban Ore Reuse Facility – No-host bar honoring Recycling Pioneers and the Recycling Archives Project and Reuse Tour

MARCH 18, 2020 – National Zero Waste Conference

8:30 am – Welcome/Introductions

  • Gary Liss, NRC Conference Committee Co-Chair
  • Jesse Arreguin, Mayor of Berkeley 
  • Kira Stoll, UC Berkeley Director of Sustainability

8:45 am – “Building a Circular Economy with Zero Waste”

  • Joseph Button, Straus Family Creamery
  • Mandi McKay, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • Clare Miflin, AIA, NYC “ZW Design Standards”

10:15 am – Break

10:30 am – Models of a Circular Economy – Zero Waste Campuses

  • Danner Doud-Martin, Chou Hall, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
  • Erin McNichol – Hewlett Packard HQ, Palo Alto 
  • Alana Levine, Arizona State University

11:45 am – International Zero Waste Hierarchy of Highest and Best Uses 

  • Jamie Kaminski, Zero Waste Canada

12:00 pm – Lunch (including 10 topic lunch tables)

Concurrent Sessions

1:00 pm – A – Zero Waste for Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Facilities

Moderated Discussion Panel (Interactive Discussion with Panel and Audience; 1 brief intro ppt by 1 of presenters):

  • Stephanie Barger, U.S. Green Building Council, TRUE Zero Waste 
  • Sue Beets-Atkinson, SBM Services and Chair, GBCI Zero Waste Advisory Council
  • Lin King, Cal Zero Waste, UC Berkeley

Topics to be covered:

  • How to Recycle Right in Today’s Markets
  • Right Sizing
  • Designing it Right
  • Hard to Recycle Materials
  • Business contracts for recycling vendors
  • Liquid wastes
  • Certifications – for Events, Construction Sites, 
  • Hazardous Wastes
  • Training and Leadership

1:00 pm – B – Reduce and Reuse

Moderated Discussion Panel (Interactive Discussion with Panel and Audience; 1 brief intro ppt by 1 of presenters):

  1. Leah Tischler, SBM Site Services
  2. Emily Rusch, CalPIRG and the Repair Association
  3. Dave Bennink, RE-USE Consulting 

Topics to be covered:

  • Right to Repair
  • How to measure Reduce and Reuse
  • Engaging Employees to Reduce and Reuse
  • Reusable Shipping Containers
  • R&D Programs

1:00 pm – C – Recycling Market Development and Infrastructure 

Moderated Discussion Panel (Interactive Discussion with Panel and Audience; 1 brief intro ppt by 1 of presenters):

  • Ruth Abbe, Co-Chair, Global Recycling Council, CRRA
  • Lisa Skumatz, Skumatz Economic Research Associates

Topics to be covered:

  • What’s Contamination and How to Recycle Right
  • Latest Processing Improvements (e.g. more labor, slower belts, more equipment, robotics)  
  • Use Materials Domestically and Bring Recycling Jobs Home from China
  • Container deposit systems to provide cleaner materials
  • Dual vs. Single Stream Collection and Processing
  • Recycling Incentives (e.g. Save as you Throw)

3:00 pm – Break

3:30 pm – A – Finding Markets for Hard to Recycle Materials

  • Bring your own hard to recycle materials and review with marketing experts and attendees.  Set up room like Antiques Road Show, with experts at stations for different types of materials (e.g. plastics, other packaging, metals, glass, paper, organics)

3:30 pm – B – Buy Recycled

  • Nina Belluci Butler, More Recycling and NRC Buy Recycled Campaign 
  • Alicia Culver, Responsible Purchasing Institute
  • Susan Kinsella, Conservatree
  • Sarah O’Brien, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council

Topics to be Discussed:

  • Buy Recycled, Environmentally Preferable and Sustainable Procurement Policies and Programs
  • Durable Products
  • Minimum Content Policies

3:30 pm – C – ReThink and Redesign

  1. Marialyce Pedersen, GBCI Zero Waste Advisory Council and NRC Board, Moderator
  2. Susan Collins, Container Recycling Institute
  3. Lisa Pellegrino, Terracycle
  4. Nina Goodrich, Sustainable Packaging Coalition

Topics to be Discussed:

  • Are Compostable Products the Answer?
  • New Models for Reuse Systems
  • Adopting or Expanding Bottle Bills for Clean Materials
  • Progress in Redesign of Sustainable Packaging

5:00 pm – Informal Gathering, No-host bar

6 – 8 pm – Topic Dinners at Local Restaurants

7 – 9 pm – CalPIRG Student Zero Waste Forum

7 – 10 pm –NCRA Zero Waste Dance (NCRA organizing)

MARCH 19, 2020National Zero Waste Conference

8:15 am – Welcome

  • Leslie Lukacs, NRC Conference Committee Co-Chair
  • Sophie Hahn, Vice-Mayor of Berkeley
  • Kate O’Neill, UC Berkeley Co-Chair of Sustainability Advisory Committee

8:30 am – “Future of Wasting Less in America” 

  • Michael Sangiacomo, President, Recology (invited)

9:00 am – Zero Waste Community Plans

  • Portia Sinnott, Zero Waste USA, Moderator
  • Julie Sands Tyne, San Diego 
  • Alice Koehler, Waste Zero
  • Zero Waste Plans and Circular Economy – Esra Tat, Zero Waste Europe (invited)

Topics to be Discussed:

  • Sample Zero Waste Community Plans
  • Model Zero Waste Master Plan
  • How to help your community get started doing Zero Waste Community Plan
  • Policies, Programs and Infrastructure Options for Zero Waste Community Plans
  • Zero Waste USA Zero Waste Community Planning Checklist

10:00 am –Zero Waste and Climate Change

  • Maggie Clarke, Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board
  • Pal Martensson, Let’s Do It World,  “Lessons from the Amazon: Lungs of the World”

10:30 am – World Cleanup Day and Plastics in the Oceans 

  • Rick Anthony, Chair, Zero Waste International Alliance and Vice-President, Zero Waste USA

10:45 am – Break

11:00 am – Workers Dignity, Environmental Justice and Community Economic Development

  • Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Moderator
  • Greg Sawtell, United Workers, Baltimore
  • Shashawnda Campbell, Zero Waste Baltimore 
  • Terry McDonald, St. Vincent DePaul Society, Eugene, OR

Topics to be Discussed

  • Workers Dignity and Living Wages
  • Equitable Siting of Facilities, Sharing benefits and challenges fairly
  • Managing Resources and converting problems into assets
  • Community Land Trusts to add value to vacant land and properties

12:15 pm – Lunch (including 10 topic lunch tables)

1:15 pm – A – Organics and Zero Waste

Moderated Discussion Panel (Interactive Discussion with Panel and Audience; 1 brief intro ppt by 1 of presenters):

  • Ana Carvalho (Zero Waste International Alliance), Moderator
  • Stu Buckner (Waste 360, invited) 
  • Matt Cotton, US Composting Council 
  • Will Bakx, California Organics Recycling Council of CRRA
  • Kourtnii Brown, Sustainable Economies Law Center

Topics to be covered:

  • Reducing Food Wasting (e.g. Lean Path)
  • Food Donations
  • On-site composters and digesters
  • Community composting
  • Compostable Packaging
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Large-scale composting and anaerobic digestion
  • Permitting facilities and dealing with air and water regulations
  • Mandates for haulers and/or residential and commercial generators

1:15 pm – B – Zero Waste Community Planning

  • Aditi Varshneya, GAIA (Moderator, invited)
  • Kirstie Pecci, Conservation Law Foundation, Boston
  • Kate Bailey, EcoCycle, Boulder, CO
  • Kate Davenport, Eureka Recycling, St. Paul, MN
  • Caroline Mitchell, City of Fort Collins, CO 

Topics to be covered:

  • Focus for Community Recycling Ordinances – Haulers, Generators, or Both
  • Best Practices for RFPs and Contracts (for communities)
  • Zero Waste Culture Change 
  • Dignity and Justice in Pursuing Zero Waste 
  • Resource Recovery Parks
  • Living the Dream – Zero Waste Lifestyles

1:15 pm – C – Product Policies 

Moderated Discussion Panel (Interactive Discussion with Panel and Audience; 1 brief intro ppt by 1 of presenters):

  • Deborah Raphael, San Francisco, Moderator
  • Ruth Abbe (Zero Waste USA)
  • Heidi Sanborn (National Product Stewardship Council)
  • Robin Schneider (Texas Campaign for the Environment)
  • Miriam Gordon (Upstream Solutions)
  • Scott Cassel (Product Stewardship Institute)
  • Clarissa Morawski, (Reloop Platform) 

Topics to be covered:

  • Bans
  • Fees and deposits
  • Minimum content
  • Extended Producer Responsibility

2:45 pm – Break

3:00 pm – A – Upcyclers Network and NRC Buy Recycled Campaign Forum on marketing recycled products

  • Gina Wu Lee, Upcyclers Network
  • Nina Butler, More Recycling and NRC Board
  • Alicia Culver, Responsible Purchasing Institute
  • Susan Kinsella, Conservatree
  • Sarah O’Brien, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council

3:00 pm – B – Promotions of Zero Waste on Campuses

  • Alec Cooley, Busch Systems, Moderator
  • Julie Muir, Stanford University
  • Erin McNichol, HP
  • Kaity Robbins, Boston University

3:00 pm – C – Single-Use Product Bans

  • Dylan DeThomas, The Recycling Partnership (Moderator, invited)
  • Christie Keith, Break Free from Plastics Steering Committee and GAIA
  • Christine DeTournay, Berkeley Zero Waste Commission
  • Samantha Sommer, Clean Water Action
  • Laura Anthony, Save the Albatross Coalition and Zero Waste San Diego
  • Kate O’Neill, UC Berkeley, author of “Waste” 

4:30 pm –Closing Plenary: David Pinsky, Greenpeace Oceans & Plastics Campaigner, l“Zero Waste to Break Free from Plastics”

5:00 pm – Close of Conference and Evaluations


  • Zero Waste Youth Convergence, Saturday/Sunday, March 14-15, 
  • 2020 NCRA Recycling Update 2020, March 17, 2020 (Program to be determined by NCRA, including Green Drinks after event)
  • Zero Waste USA Zero Waste Associates Certified Training (Classes 1 and 2), March 16 and March 20, 2020
  • Zero Waste Tours (NCRA) – Monday, March 16 and Friday, March 20, 2020
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