Road to Zero Waste

Plastics! [1 CEU]

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Governor’s 14

Moderator: Swarupa Ganguli, Team Lead, Materials Conservation and Recovery Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This session examines challenges and solutions for handling plastics in the waste stream.

Are You Thinking of Banning Polystyrene in Your Town? Let's Talk!

This presentation will discuss the onset, challenges and results of adopting a ban on the use of Polystyrene for take-out and to-go orders at all food establishments including restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, farmers markets, fast food establishments, mini-marts, etc. The ban also includes cutlery provided only upon request by the customer.

Following this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize challenges/obstacles to implementing a ban
  • Address community concerns about a ban
  • New and successful ways to market the ban


Kim Braun, Environmental Programs & Operations Manager, Culver City Public Works, California

Kim Braun

Kim Braun is responsible for the waste, recycling and organics collections program city wide, the 500-ton-per-day transfer station and stormwater projects and programs. Ms. Braun more recently served as the Resource Recovery & Recycling Manager for the City of Santa Monica and has served in that capacity since 2009. The City provides waste, recycling and organics waste collection services for approximately 93,000 residents and 3500 commercial accounts, bulky item collection, citywide street sweeping, pressure washing and household hazardous waste curbside collection services. Ms. Braun began her Santa Monica career as the materials recovery superintendent with the Solid Waste Management Division in 1997. Prior to relocating to Santa Monica, Ms. Braun worked for the Mercer County Improvement Authority (MCIA) in Trenton, New Jersey, as the director of operations. Ms. Braun was responsible for the daily operations of a 1200-ton-per-day transfer station and county-wide recycling programs for 100,000 single-family residences. Ms. Braun is an active member in both SWANA and SoCal SWANA serving as the Sustainable Materials Management Technical Division Past Director for SWANA, as well as a Public Board Member for SoCal SWANA. Ms. Braun received her Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree from the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C.

Fueling Solutions to Plastic Waste

Only nine percent of plastic waste in the U.S. is currently recycled. This presents enormous opportunities for innovation. In this presentation, we will highlight a number of case studies we’ve rolled out for capturing plastic waste and giving it value:

  1. Collecting thin films
  2. Capturing ocean plastics
  3. Collecting MRF residuals
  4. Capturing plastics from the back-end of biomass processes

In each of these instances, we have been able to create new high value fuels from these waste streams.

Following this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Deploy solutions for thin film plastics in their communities
  • Offer a solution for waste aggregators to find a higher value for their plastics
  • Present a solution for coastal communities and those near polluted waterways


Benjamin Coates, Chief Technology Officer, Renewlogy

Benjamin Coates

Benjamin Coates is Renewlogy’s chief technology officer and design visionary, responsible for designing and building Renewlogy’s first commercial-scale unit. Mr. Coates has more than a decade of experience spanning multiple engineering fields. He began his career as an electrical engineer at ST Microelectronics, designing microchips and digital circuits. His training as an electrical engineer has been a critical success factor in Renewlogy’s reactor design, allowing Renewlogy to develop its advanced automated control system. Mr. Coates next pursued his PhD coursework in chemical engineering. He spent time at Combustion Resources and Amaron Energy designing and building pilot plants for the recovery of fuels from biomass, coal and oil shale before he joined Bakaya to design a reactor for plastic waste to fuel. He graduated in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1999 and completed his chemical engineering PhD coursework from the University of Utah, holding a perfect 4.0/4.0 GPA. He has been recognized as a Lightspeed Ventures Fellow, and a winner of the Utah Innovation Award for Clean Technology & Energy, where he now serves as a judge on the Board.