Zero Waste Washington drives policy change for a healthy and waste-free world. We envision a just, equitable, and sustainable future where we all produce, consume, and reuse responsibly.

Waste summit and hackathon finals, November 30
By Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Program Manager, and Brian Allen, Zero Waste Hackathon Project Manager


We bet you have zoom fatigue by now, but you do not want to miss our annual, free Waste Summit on Monday, November 30, 2020 from 9:00 AM 3:00 PM. This year’s theme is innovation, highlighting cutting-edge entrepreneurs and researchers in the region. You will hear from Beta Hatch whose insect farming technology converts insects into high-value proteins, oils, and nutrients for agriculture; Titus, which piloted a secondary Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Portland last year, Net Your Problem, which is recycling fishing nets and more. This year the waste summit is partnered with the first Zero Waste Innovation Hackathon finals

Waste Summit

The Pacific NW is full of entrepreneurs, researchers, and agencies who are helping lead the nation with their innovative ideas to help realize a zero-waste paradigm shift. Our annual waste summit will inspire you, and this year you can attend in the comfort of your home as it will be virtual.

Waste summit registration

The waste summit is free, but you must register in order to receive the Zoom link. If you are unable to attend on the 30th, please register so you can receive the recordings of the individual presentations afterward in a follow-up email. Please register here:

Presenters include:

  • Aimee Rudolph, Beta Hatch – how they farm insects to create high-value proteins, oils, and nutrients for agriculture
  • Nicole Baker, Net Your Problem – recycling a major plastic pollutant of the ocean – fishing nets
  • Russell Davis, Organix – using state-of-the-art vermiculture for dairy waste (cow poop)
  • Karl Englund, WSU and Global Fiberglass Solutions – recycling windmill blades and other composites
  • Chris Idso, WA State Department of Corrections – pioneered vessel composing at our state prisons and other innovations
  • Manuel Montano, WWU – cutting edge assessment of plastic nanoparticles in the environment
  • Mike Centers, Titus MRF Services – results of pilot testing for secondary recycling facility in Portland, OR
  • Corinne McCarthy, C+C – innovating new methods for looking at people’s behavior as they recycle or compost

Hackathon finals

This year, the waste summit coincides with the first Pacific NW Zero Waste Innovation Hackathon finals. The hackathon is a competition for student teams which develop zero waste business plans. Five-minute videos from the 6 finalist student teams will be presented during the Waste Summit. The teams will briefly answer questions from the panel of judges and the final event of the day will be the awarding of honors by the judge team. These top 6 presentations (videos) are the inspiring culmination of the effort of 15 teams that participated in a five week program which included mentoring and zero waste business plan workshops.

The day will conclude the announcement of the winning teams of the Hackathon.

15 teams and over 30 Pacific NW professionals fueled the hackathon

We offer huge thank you’s to the large number of professionals in the region who contributed to success of the program by serving as presenters, coaches, mentors, and judges. This first Pacific NW Zero Waste Hackathon included mentoring, coaching, topic-area workshops and more, all designed to enable participating teams to develop and present their business ideas for zero-waste projects as they competed for over $5,000 in cash prizes.

The hackathon focused on creating Zero Waste projects on the crucial first stage of any new project: the creative ideation of new innovations in a given sector. The fall 2020 program was designed to help enable these teams to carry their ideas forward to the many business plan competitions/accelerators in winter/spring 2021 taking place in the Pacific Northwest region.

Student teams participated from Eugene, OR to British Columbia to the north. Teams were made up to 5 young innovators (current students and recent graduates). The business workshops covered business concept ideation, social impact structures, market fit analysis, marketing fundamentals, basic financials, storytelling and presentation skills. Waste sector experts came from areas such as waste management, reuse and repair, recycling, emissions, food and agriculture, compost, textiles and fashion, construction and deconstruction, energy and storage, marketing and communications, manufacturing and circularity, policy, public sector, technology and toxics and green chemistry.

Thank you to the sponsors and partners!

Looking forward to seeing you on November 30!


For any questions and suggestions, please contact Xenia Dolovova at and Brian Allen at

Recycle BC online tour as preview of legislative session

Zero Waste Washington and our partners co-sponsored an online tour of the Recycle BC Packaging and Paper Product Extended Producer Responsibility program. Recycle BC is responsible for residential packaging and paper product recycling throughout British Columbia. As you know, our recycling system needs to be improved ….and we are currently working with partners on a bill for the 2021 Washington State legislative session that is modeled the best from the Recycle BC program as well as other Canadian and EU programs.


Washington’s State Senators Christina Rolfes and Mona Das, and Representatives Joe Fitzgibbon and Strom Peterson also provided brief remarks as part of the tour. We heard from Recycle BC staff about how the whole system works, including a look at the various facilities, operations and components that make the program run smoothly.

The video is available for viewing at:

Legislative bills

How the next legislative session will unfold is uncertain at the moment because of the pandemic. Our plan is to support a number of zero waste bills, along with our partners, addressing these zero waste issues: modernizing recycling (mentioned above), banning styrofoam products, requiring recycled content in packaging and containers, increasing compost, and incentivizing industrial symbiosis and more.

Keep an eye on our legislative page to check the status of bills as the session progresses:

For more information or if you have suggestions about legislative bills, please contact Heather at

Washingtonians will be able to bring your own container!

By Elisabeth Archer, Waste Reduction Strategist

Thank you and congratulations! The WA State Board of Health received over 400 comments from you, the zero waste community, supporting a change in their food safety code. And now, we are excited to report, in March 2022, consumers will be able to refill their own containers at restaurants and grocery stores. The delayed implementation (2022) is due to the major concerns from the restaurant industry on having to make changes during this time of duress due to the pandemic.

How it unrolled

Important changes allowing people to “bring your own container” as part of the state’s Food Safety Rules were under consideration for almost two years. Zero Waste Washington proposed language to the State Food Safety Advisory Committee and the Department of Health (DOH) staff in spring 2019. DOH staff included the “bring your own container” provisions in the draft sent out for informal public comment in June 2019. Members of the public responded to our alert and sent many comments. As a result, DOH staff made the BYOC language even stronger.

The State Board of Health was originally scheduled to consider the code in March 2020, but due to COVID-19, the hearing and vote was delayed.

Finally, the official public comment period opened this September. And again, you responded with a flood of comments in support of the code change. Finally, on October 13, 2020, after a staff presentation of the Food Safety Code changes and some debate, the Board voted to approve all recommended rule and wording changes to the Washington State Food Rules (WAC 246-215). The changes will go into effect in March 2022.

What it means

The specific section we worked on is WAC 246-215-03348-Refilling Containers. This section allows consumers to bring their own containers for buying and refilling food and beverages at any food establishment that “opts in” and that has a written plan on how to do so in a contamination free manner.

Between now and March 2022, there is considerable work to create guidelines and handouts, and then educate and train stakeholders and the public. Zero Waste Washington will engage with State Department of Health staff on these items to help make sure they include clear language that will make it easy for the public to bring their own containers.

Thank you!

None of this would have been possible without the effort of so many of you to write letters, call, and generally let your voice be heard. Thank you.

This is an exciting and challenging time. These changes offer businesses opportunities to both meet their sustainability goals and meet the demands of consumers. Around the country businesses are coming up with creative new business models and solutions to eliminate single use and disposable foodware. We are delighted Washington state is helping lead this effort.

For more information

To see all rule changes, go to:


Thank you for your help in moving this issue forward. If you have any questions, please contact Elisabeth at

Zero waste milk

By Kami Bruner, Waste Reduction Project Coordinator


First, a story… “I grew up in Eastern Europe and a milk man would come to our neighborhood at 5:30 am. It was still dark outside, but he’d bang a ladle against a huge canister and yell ‘MIIIIIILK’. I would go down to meet him at that crazy hour (with my reusable bottle!) purely because afterward I could drink some of the fresh cream that rose to the top while the milk settled. It was my reward for getting out there so early.” Xenia

Truly fresh milk with steam gently rising to the top – straight to your door in a reusable glass bottle that you simply return when it’s empty. This seems like a relic of a simpler, bygone era but fortunately for many Washingtonians, it’s really not such a stretch of the imagination. While home delivery isn’t so common these days, there are several local dairies that offer some of the freshest, most sustainably-produced milk around – and in reusable bottles that you return to your local grocer when you’re done!

Local companies delivering and packaging milk in glass refillable bottles with deposits

There are several companies that are using glass refillable bottles in Washington, including:


How does the deposit work? The farmer charges the store a bottle deposit on their milk order. This charge is included in the price of the product that the customer pays (e.g. $2 per ½ gallon of milk). Then, when the customer brings the bottle back, they get a $2 refund.

We interviewed a local dairy farmer to learn more: Richard Smith, Pure Éire Dairy

We spoke with Richard Smith of Pure Éire Dairy (the only certified organic, 100% grass-fed, animal welfare approved dairy in the nation!) to find out more about their process, their cows, and what goes into getting that delicious milk to customers across the state. Smith lamented that most people know their doctor, but few people know their dairy farmer. “When you hear that your milk ‘just comes from the grocery store,’ you know there’s a problem,” he said.

But Richard and his wife Jill aim to be different. That’s one reason that Richard’s own cell phone number is listed on every bottle and package. Have a compliment? A complaint? You can just call him. “We take the good and the bad…” Talk about transparent!

Tell us about your cows!

Growing from their starter herd of 7 cows, all of Jill and Richard’s now 200 Jerseys roam the pastures of their Othello, WA farm, just 500 feet from where they process the milk. The Smiths leave the calves with their mothers, so they are able to nurse and get the benefits of their mothers’ milk. Jill and Richard milk the cows only once a day, until the calves are several months of age. By contrast, 99% of dairies take calves away early and milk the cows multiple times a day. As they said, “We let them stay with mama to get a great start on life and also learn how to be a grass-fed cow”

The cows wander freely in the pasture for 8-9 months then they’re sheltered in a ““compost pack barn” for the winter months where they can still eat and move freely since they aren’t in pens or stalls.

Uh, what about all that poop?

While in the barn, the cows poop as they normally would in the field but the Smiths put down successive layers of sawdust and straw that provides a healthy bedding for the herd while creating a perfect *hot* microbial environment that breaks down any pathogens, resulting in compost that’s ready to fertilize spring pastures and grow new grass. This process is also better for carbon-sequestration because the fields aren’t being tilled to plant corn/soy. An eat-poop closed-loop!

The milk

Richard noted a trend toward ultra high-temperature pasteurization where one sees dairy products with shelf lives of approximately 100 days. For a lot of that kind of milk, it has traveled for nearly a week and never been in the refrigerator prior to its arrival at the store because, technically, it doesn’t really need to be refrigerated since it’s so highly processed. By contrast, the Smiths’ milk comes from the cow in the morning and is in the store by the next day. On the western side of the state, they contract with Pete’s Milk Delivery. On the eastern side, the Smiths work with their own delivery folks so they oversee the whole process.

Cost to use glass vs. paper?

There are several (good!) reasons this milk costs more than your average carton. Besides supporting an entirely different model of production – one that truly takes into account the health of the herd and the land – the packaging itself doesn’t come cheap. The standard “gable top” paper cartons (which include a plastic lining film to prevent leakage) cost pennies per piece. For equivalent ½ gallon glass containers, it’s a few dollars per piece (even at wholesale prices).

Currently the Smiths get an average of 7 uses out of a given bottle before it either doesn’t get returned or gets broken, but they’d like to see the number of cycles go up. Smith was bemused by a seemingly odd disconnect with consumers regarding what they do with the empty bottles. “We’ve found out that a lot of the bottles are sent to recycling because ‘that’s just what you’re supposed to do with glass’ and customers think they’re helping the environment by doing that but they’re kind of missing the point of the return cycle. For a little guy like me, I’m putting a lot of faith in the consumers that they’ll participate in the system.”

What’s the cleaning process?

Once the bottles are returned to the dairy, they’re thoroughly washed and then go through an industrial sanitizing machine – sterilized and ready for reuse.

How is the business evolving? Other products?

The Smiths said, “We’ve got small, localized production of sour cream and cream cheese. But we want to make sure we have our system right before rolling it out on a larger scale.” Currently they have milk, yogurt (which won the World Yogurt Competition in its first year of production!) and kefir. For those in the Greater Seattle area, you’ll be pleased to know that much of PCC’s store-brand dairy is actually co-branded Pure Éire products!

You can find Pure Éire Dairy products at major grocery stores across the state (Western WA – in major stores like PCC, Whole Foods, and Marlene’s. Eastern WA – carried at Yoke’s, Rosauers, and Huckleberry’s.)

So, how does it work on the customer’s end?

Xenia happened to have a few bottles stashed under the sink waiting to be returned. She said, “I was always tempted to buy milk in this zero-waste container. It’s so much like in my childhood. But with these bottles, I was hesitant to bring them back, because I didn’t know who I should give them to when I got to the store. Was I supposed to leave them with the cashier at check-out? Do I have to talk to someone else? What about social distance? Having so many questions made me keep putting it off ‘til next time.’ But I finally got over my fear of messing up and this is what I learned:

  • The cashier is your person! And it’s more convenient to do it on the way out.
  • You can buy the same product and get your deposit back
  • You can return bottles and get your deposit without buying another bottle of milk

I returned two bottles and bought one. It wasn’t scary at all and very efficient! I’ll keep buying these glass bottles where you see cream accumulating. I’m so lucky my husband doesn’t like cream – it’s all mine!”

Here’s the real question: is anyone doing eggnog for the holidays?

Besides all the other wonderful products available year-round from these dedicated farmers, if you were wondering how to source your holiday eggnog in refillable glass bottles, Twinbrook Creamery’s got you covered! Click on these links to learn where you can get it:


Twinbrook Creamery store locator

Fresh Breeze Organics retail locations

Repair Economy Conference: “From Stuff to Belongings”

By Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Program Manager and Kami Bruner, Waste Reduction Project Coordinator

Early on Sunday morning, November 8th, an eager bunch of over 60 fixers, tool librarians, and makers met (virtually) for the statewide Repair Economy Conference. The conference brought together the leaders, staff, and volunteers of groups working to increase access to repair in Washington State and adjacent cities. The event goals were to connect these awesome community members and to address common challenges collaboratively.

 With robust participation from groups in the Seattle and Tacoma area, we were also happy to have representation from Methow, Port Townsend, our neighbors to the north in Vancouver, B.C., from down south in Portland, even a few folks from California and the east coast! A big thank you goes to Ecology for funding this event through a PPG grant.

A growing repair movement

With ever greater awareness around overconsumption, planned obsolescence, resource depletion and the negative impacts of these issues to both environmental and social health, people are seriously rethinking their relationships with their “stuff.” The growing repair, share, maker movement has the potential to help us reclaim our collective right to get more life out of our possessions and change the cradle-to-grave “buy, consume, discard” status quo. This is as much about our mindset as it is about the skills and availability of tools.

Robust day of activities

The event featured meet-n-greets, three plenary sessions, a lively lunch discussion of policy solutions, and a series of breakouts designed to address practical issues.

Topics covered in the breakouts included COVID adaptations and resilience, Strategic and Business planning, Volunteer recruitment and management, Marketing strategies, and more.

Plenary speakers were

  • Sabrina Chakori – Founder at Brisbane Tool Library, Brisbane, Australia
  • Gene Homicki – Co-founder and CEO at myTurn tool tracking and sharing software
  • Derek Gaw – CEO at MakerLab, BC Vancouver

Here are just a few from dozens of positive comments we received:

“It’s really nice to know that there are so many people doing this work just in this region and it’s energizing to feel how impassioned everyone is.”

“I loved connecting with folks from all over who share similar values and are working to grow the repair world/economy”

“Great job! Kudos to the planning committee. The speakers were great, and you did an amazing job doing this all online. It flowed great and I got lots out of it.”

“I really enjoyed this event and got much more out of it than I can put into words. Y’all did an amazing job, especially with how many people were there! …. I didn’t know how much I wanted to connect with all of you until now and these are a few ideas about how to do more. Thank you for introducing me to all these awesome people and all of the awesome work we are doing!!”

Thank you to the planning committee

We couldn’t have brought this event together without the help of a terrific planning committee, including representatives from the following groups: Repair Clark County, Fab Lab Tacoma, SE Seattle Tool Library, Repair Cafe Port Townsend, NE Seattle Tool Library, Phinney Fixer Collective, West Seattle Tool Library, South King Tool Library, Zero Waste Vashon, Vashon Fix-It Café, and Share Reuse Repair Initiative – Vancouver, BC


Here are resources that Zero Waste Washington is currently developing to help the movement. Please contact Xenia or Kami for more information on these:

  • Repair Economy Google group – facilitating ongoing conversations between individuals and groups involved in the movement.
  • New Repair Economy website serving as a hub for all fixer/repair groups, tool libraries, and makerspaces across Washington
  • How-to kit for starting your own Fix-it Fair in your community
  • COVID event protocol
  • Social Media and other promotional and communication tips

If you missed the Summit, but still want to watch recordings, email Xenia

If you want to stay informed about upcoming events, join the Repair Economy listserv:

To continue the conversation that has been started, we are planning to support regular meetings among players of the Repair Economy in the region. Please email us with questions and suggestions: Xenia Dolovova at and Kami Bruner at

Great news! Medicine Return program now live

You will be pleased to learn that the statewide medicine return program went live on a few days ago, on November 21. This is the result of the WA Secure Drug Take-Back Act passed in 2018, led by Representative Strom Peterson. Click here to find all of the current return locations (retail, sheriff offices, hospitals) in Washington:

Washington’s Safe Medication Return Program is a pioneering effort aimed at reducing medication misuse, abuse, and poisonings. It creates a unified, statewide, medication return program that will give Washington residents free, convenient, and environmentally responsible options for disposing of unwanted medication. Washington is the first state to implement such a program as a result of state law. Funded by drug manufacturers at no cost to taxpayers, the program encourages people to return unwanted and expired medications. MED-Project is the approved program operator, under the Department of Health’s oversight.

How it works

You can drop off your used medicines at physical drop boxes which are available statewide. People may also request free mail-back envelopes, so they don’t need to leave their homes to participate.

People may return most medications, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, controlled substance medication, and even household pet medications. Unused and unneeded medications in a household pose a potential risk for poisoning and overdose deaths. Improperly discarded medication also presents an environmental hazard. Flushing medicine down the toilet or throwing it in the trash pollutes water and soil.

You are invited to a Repair Apéro*
Zero Waste Washington’s Annual Holiday Party and Meeting

You are invited to a Repair Apéro* – Zero Waste Washington’s annual meeting and holiday party on Friday December 4, 5-6:30 pm. This will be an online, interactive afternoon event, sure to make your smile.

You’re Invited!

Please join us for

Zero Waste Washington’s

Annual Meeting and Holiday Party

Great community and fun “waste” themed interactive game show!

Friday, December 4, 2020

5—6:30 pm

Via zoom

Please register so we can send you the zoom link:

or email:

*A French pre-dinner ritual that combines drinks, food and friends

Vote for board members

Zero Waste Washington members can vote for board members at the annual meeting or by going to our board and staff page to vote online here. To vote by mail, call us at 206/441-1790 or email and we’ll send you a ballot. Board members up for re-election are Todd Carey, Steve Gilbert, Hannah Johnson, Patty Liu and Sally Wolf. New nominees are Moji Igun, Tristen Pamphlet-Gardner and Tere Carral. Ballots must be received by Dec. 4, midnight.

Your support is welcome!

Zero Waste Washington cannot do this work without you. Thank you for your generous support. Together we are driving policy changes for a healthy and zero-waste future in Washington.

And thank you for all that you do in your own lives and in the community to help create a zero waste world. Actions each of us takes every day help reduce the amount of waste going into the trash, which in turn moves us toward our vision of a just, equitable and sustainable future!

Send us your success stories! We’d love to hear them and maybe even include them in a future newsletter.


Donate here

Zero Waste Washington

816 Second Avenue, Suite 200 * Seattle, WA * 98104

(206) 441-1790

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