Zero Waste Marin Final Report Organics Graphic

The Marin County Hazardous and Solid Waste Management Joint Powers Authority (Zero Waste Marin) represents Marin County, 11 incorporated cities or towns within Marin County, and 12 special collection districts that franchise for hauling services, for a total of 24 agencies. R3 was engaged by the Marin County Hazardous and Solid Waste Management Joint Powers Authority (Zero Waste Marin) to assist in its development of a “Materials Flow & Capacity Analysis” in order to improve its regulatory compliance and long-term planning. This project included an analysis of organic waste processing capacity and tool development to evaluate potential organic waste diversion scenarios through year 2025. The primary goal was to improve Zero Waste Marin’s regulatory compliance with state solid waste and recycling requirements and long-term planning.

Key services R3 performed for Zero Waste Marin include:

  • Supporting legislative and regulatory compliance, specifically reporting under AB 876 and 901 and planning for organic waste reduction under SB 1383;
  • Developing projections for organic waste generation, diversion, and processing capacity in Marin County for a 15-year range; and
  • Developing user-friendly Excel tools for Zero Waste Marin staff that enhance Marin County reporting capabilities and facilitate long-term solid waste planning; and
  • Producing a clear, concise, and readily digestible report, presentations, and other documents incorporating graphics that communicate relevant policy matters to the Zero Waste Marin Board.

To assist in supporting legislative and regulatory compliance, R3 reviewed the Organics Management Infrastructure Planning Calculator used in the 2017 EAR (for reporting year 2016) and assisted Zero Waste Marin in refining the assumptions and worksheet to determine the need for and availability of organic waste processing capacity. This helped Zero Waste Marin characterize SB 1383 compliance related to a 50% reduction in organic waste disposal from the 2014 level by 2020, and a 75% reduction by 2025. R3 also reviewed Zero Waste Marin’s Excel workbook for CalRecycle State Disposal Reporting System (DRS) reports to identify new hauler and facility reporting needs from AB 901, update the workbook for AB 901 preparedness, and assess the AB 901 data gathering system in order to determine what information Zero Waste Marin should obtain directly from the haulers and facilities for Zero Waste Marin assessment calculations.

R3 reviewed findings of the 2012 Environmental Science Associated (ESA) projections of long-term disposal capacity at Redwood Landfill to verify accuracy of disposal capacity in the ESA projections. Using the ESA model, with corrections as necessary, R3 updated landfill capacity projections based on information through 2017.

R3 also developed an Excel-based tonnage scenario modeling tool for Zero Waste Marin that meets legislative and regulatory specifications and builds upon the updated disposal reporting workbook. The Excel tool allows Zero Waste Marin staff to “plug in” scenarios for alternative disposal and materials handling situations, allowing for consideration of various scenarios over time and better planning for future changes.

Finally, R3 prepared a draft and final report, and prepared and delivered presentations to Zero Waste Marin.


  • Characterization of SB 1383 compliance related to a 50% reduction in organic waste disposal from the 2014 level by 2020, and a 75% reduction by 2025;
  • Updates to Zero Waste Marin’s Excel workbook for CalRecycle State Disposal Reporting System (DRS) for reporting under AB 901, including new hauler and facility reporting needs and specification of information to obtain directly from the haulers and facilities for JPA assessment calculations; and
  • A user-friendly Excel tool for Zero Waste Marin staff that enhances Marin County reporting capabilities and facilitate long-term solid waste planning.
Alameda Stakeholder Workshop

R3 was recently engaged by The City of Alameda (City) to conduct a Zero Waste Implementation Plan Update (ZWIP Update) for the City and assess the City’s progress towards its target of 89% diversion by 2020. For this project, R3’s primary objective is to evaluate and, as necessary, expand upon the City’s current diversion strategies and introduce new methods to increase waste diversion as needed to reach its goals and yield reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to support the City’s Local Action Plan for Climate Protection. The steps to accomplish this goal are as follows:

  • Evaluate the progress and effectiveness of City’s current Zero Waste Implementation Plan (ZWIP) using multiple metrics and/or other benchmarks of interest to the City;
  • Develop a set of Zero Waste strategy recommendations that will enhance the effectiveness of current programs, as well as develop new programs that will cost-effectively increase diversion;
  • Conduct analysis of the zero waste strategy recommendations that details the results of each strategy’s estimated additional diversion and implementation costs, and greenhouse gas emission reductions;
  • Organize one (1) community meeting, in consultation and with the participation of the City, that invites the public participation and feedback of interested stakeholders in the ZWIP; and
  • Submit and present the ZWIP Update Report, detailing the methodology, findings, and recommendations.

Project benefits included the City gaining:

  • A comprehensive evaluation of its current ZWIP’s progress and effectiveness; and
  • Strategic recommendations to advance progress towards its 2020 goal of 89% diversion.
MTWS Performance Review for Los Altos - Project Analysts Claire Wilson and Ryan Calkins

R3 was engaged by the City of Los Altos (City) to conduct a Performance and Billing Review of Mission Trail Waste Solutions (MTWS) as included under their Collections Service Agreement (Agreement) to provide solid waste, recycling, and organic collection services for the City. R3’s high level review of MTWS consisted of two main tasks: a performance review and a financial compliance assessment. The primary goal was to determine MTWS’ compliance with the applicable terms and conditions of the Agreement, review the effectiveness of current operations; and identify opportunities for program improvement.

R3 worked with MTWS management and City staff to assess MTWS’ compliance with the reporting requirements and performance standards of the Agreement, as well as verify customer billing rate calculations and service levels, franchise fee calculations, and reported diversion percentages.

R3 utilized a variety of methods in the execution of the performance review, including analysis of relevant documents, on-site and field observations, and interviews. The Performance Review addressed the following major aspects of MTWS’s operations:

  • Collection Service Agreement Compliance Review;
  • Collection Operations Review;
  • Management and Administration Review;
  • Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance, Repair and Replacement Review;
  • Customer Service Review (including customer feedback);
  • Monthly, quarterly and annual report assessment;
  • Diversion Programs, Performances and Good Faith Efforts; and
  • Outreach and Education Services.

R3 conducted the financial compliance assessment to determine that customers are being charged the proper service rate based on their service level; service rate revenues are properly recorded and accounted for by the contractor; franchise fees are properly calculated, paid and received. R3 conducted three tests to accomplish this goal:

  • Test of Subscribers to verify that service subscribers are billed the correct rate for the level of service provided;
  • Test of Revenue Transactions to verify that the billed amounts to City residents and businesses, and the corresponding payments received are properly recorded in the MTWS billing and accounting systems; and
  • Test of Franchise Fee Transactions to verify that the franchise fees are calculated correctly, and based on the correct level of recorded revenues.

Our review found that MTWS is in compliance with the vast majority of the Agreement’s requirements. Collections are performed in a safe, courteous, and cleanly manner; coordination between the drivers, customer service, shop, and management is facilitated by an effective system of work orders; fleet maintenance operations and vehicles have consistently received satisfactory ratings from the California Highway Patrol; and MTWS is operating a sophisticated and professional customer service operation.

We determined that the most significant area for improvement relative to the Agreement’s terms and conditions is in outreach and education, which is not being performed according to the Agreement’s requirements.

Project benefits include:

  • Verification of MTWS’ compliance with the vast majority of the Agreement’s provisions;
  • Recommendations for MTWS’ improved compliance with the existing requirements of the Agreement regarding meeting reporting requirements, outreach and education activities, and paying the City franchise fee and administrative fees; and
  • Recommendations for revisions to the Agreement with regards to HHW collection services, rate requirements, and the billing schedule.
SCWMA Solid Waste 101 Training and Presentation

R3 was engaged by the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (SCWMA) to provide a Comprehensive Guide and Training for SCWMA staff, Member Agency staff and Board members. R3’s primary objective was to present SCWMA and its Member Agencies with the information needed to effectively perform contract management functions and navigate the complex solid waste system as it evolves in Sonoma County, including the potential future shift of recyclable material processing capacity, and the ongoing arrangements around organic waste processing facilitated by SCWMA.

For this engagement, R3 worked closely with SCWMA to conduct two primary tasks. First, R3 team members developed an informational package for the Member Agency staff and Board members in the form of an easy-to-read Comprehensive Guide with illustrative charts, figures, and tables. This guide describes current contracts, their terms and conditions, the entities and relationships, and any other nuances that Member Agencies should be aware of. Intended for long-term use, the guide will be a “living document” that can be adapted and updated by the SCWMA staff as well as Member Agencies. To develop this guide, R3 performed the following tasks:

  • Presented information about the current situation as well as our analysis per each Member Agency;
  • Provided appropriate information in summary form for quick and accessible comparison amongst Member Agencies;
  • Provided a timeline with important milestones for the SCWMA Member Agencies and describing key activities in the solid waste field as well as their responsible parties; and
  • Described opportunities and innovations that may be available to Member Agencies and the SCWMA in the future.

R3’s second task was to facilitate a Solid Waste 101 Training Session for Sonoma County decision makers that presented the information provided in the Comprehensive Guide in an interactive format, and provide a round-table discussion opportunity to address questions and provide solutions to Member Agencies.

Project benefits include:

  • Presentation of comprehensive information about SCWMA as well as analysis per each Member Agency, enabling each Member Agency to easily pick up and use the guide immediately; and
  • An update-able resource for decision makers in Sonoma County to gain a thorough understanding of the current waste management system, the contractual relationships involved both broadly and for their Member Agencies, and how the system might change in the future.

R3 is currently working with the cities of San Rafael, Larkspur, and Ross, the County of Marin, and the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District (Marin Franchisors’ Group or Group) to review their solid waste rate-setting methodology. Project tasks include:

  • Developing a Simplified Rate Adjustment Methodology, in which R3 would work to simplify and streamline the current rate adjustment methodology, including the proposed method of addressing changes and challenges in the industry in the coming years (i.e. where the industry is going, and what the Group and Marin Sanitary Service (MSS) should be planning for) as well as the proposed approach to address potential MSS requested changes to programs and services in non-detailed rate review years;
  • Developing a New Methodology for Recycling Revenues Balancing Account, which would address recycling commodities fluctuations, including how the processing cost and recycling revenue projections might be set at the beginning and adjusted after; and
  • Developing a Methodology for Addressing Commercial Migration, i.e. more recycling and composting results in a smaller garbage cart and lower price, but not less service or cost.

Anticipated project benefits include the following:

  • Lower level of effort and cost for annual rate adjustments; and
  • Improved communications about the rate adjustment process.

On behalf of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (SCWMA), R3 incorporated key recommendations and findings about organics material processing in the County of Sonoma (County) to compile a Request for Information (RFI) for future compost facilities that might be sited in the County. This RFI was used to aid the SCWMA in developing a strategic action plan to provide for organics capacity throughout the region, simultaneous with the procurement of solid waste services for several jurisdictions within the County. Following this RFI, R3 was engaged by SCWMA to assist in the procurement of an organics material processing facility in the county, as well as provide the SCWMA solid waste consulting assistance.

R3 acted as an extension of SCWMA staff and assisted in the following aspects of this procurement project:

  • Compiled the Request for Proposals (RFP) package and drafted of the program requirements, the processing agreement, and customer rate options;
  • Conducted community workshops and SCWMA Board meetings;
  • Developed a mailing list and issued the RFP;
  • Conducted a pre-proposal conference with potential organics processors;
  • Prepared written responses to questions submitted regarding the RFP, and prepared addenda as necessary;
  • Conducted interviews with the evaluation team;
  • Assisted in the evaluation of responses from processors;
  • Assisted SCWMA staff with the presentation of the results of the evaluation process and staff recommendation to the SCWMA Board;
  • Conducted clarification or negotiation sessions if necessary; and
  • Finalized the processing agreement.

The goals that guided the procurement process included the following:

  • Providing the highest level of service to the SCWMA’s residents and businesses at the best cost; and
  • Ensuring long-term sustainability and successful operations of organics processing facilities utilized by the SCWMA.

R3 Consulting Group Now Offers:

Disaster Debris Management Planning Assistance to California Cities

No one is ever completely ready to handle a natural disaster, but with our help, you can avoid spending unnecessary funds, resources and time in the event of a disaster. We specialize in creating disaster debris management plans that are unique to your community, meaning you’ll have a plan in place when you need it most. Not only that, but municipalities with disaster debris management plans will be prepared in the event of a disaster, meaning time and energy are maximized, along with potential for FEMA reimbursement if protocols are followed. Let us help you navigate through the complicated process of disaster debris planning and make sure your FEMA reimbursement dollars are maximized.

Last month FEMA extended its Alternative Procedures Pilot Program which allows for up to an extra 2% of federal cost share reimbursement on money spent.  The opportunity to participate in this pilot program will be available through June 2018.  There is no better time than now to start planning.

Once we complete your plan and it is reviewed by FEMA for this program, the municipality will be eligible for this additional 2% reimbursement – money that you would have otherwise been spent out of pocket if no plan was in place.

Our plans are:

  • CalOES Approved
  • FEMA Approved
  • Guaranteed to participate in the Public Assistance Alternative Procedures Pilot Program (time dependent)

FEMA timeline of disaster reimbursement

(Above: FEMA timeline of disaster reimbursement)

More About Our Process

We will consider:

  • The type of disaster(s) that may potentially occur in your community
  • Your staffing levels and who would play certain roles when a disaster occurs
  • Your opportunities for procuring various contracted disaster debris management services
  • Potential sites in your limits that could be used for temporary debris removal and storage
  • Public information examples

Our process includes:

  1. Meeting with you to obtain base level data and confirm expectations of our services
  2. Providing the jurisdiction with a Draft 1 disaster debris management plan (DDMP)
  3. Reviewing the draft DDMP with the jurisdiction
  4. Providing the draft to CalOES, who will review the plan for completeness
  5. Revising the draft based on CalOES comment and provide a new draft to CalOES (this may take multiple iterations)

CalOES will forward the draft plan to FEMA once it has approved the plan. Once FEMA has approved the plan, you’re all set!

DDMPs are essential for:

  • Saving time and money
  • Having a quick and effective response to and preparation for a disaster
  • More efficient use of limited resources, including staff time

“Congratulations – that was an awesome plan. It was the best one I’ve ever reviewed.”   – Melinda Stehr, CalOES

R3 is conducting “full service” procurement and solid waste consulting assistance for the City of Piedmont. The City of Piedmont is characterized by high performance in diversion, very high participation in on-premise “backyard” services, and a primarily residential subscription base. The rate structure is “flatter” than most other comparable jurisdictions, with smaller can sizes costing more on average, and larger can sizes costing less on average.

Read more

R3 is currently assisting the City of Livermore in the development of Phase 2 of the City’s Strategic Plan for High Diversion. R3’s project approach moves beyond eliminating barriers to diversion by incentivizing achievement of high diversion goals for all parties, including solid waste haulers, processors and generators. Read more

R3 has been selected by the City of Berkeley to review the operations and management of the local Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and developing a strategic plan to improve MRF finance and operations. We have taken a collaborative approach in engaging with the MRF operator and City staff to develop real and meaningful recommendations for improvement. Read more