Richard Anthony Zero Waste Pioneer Continues to Work on Global and Local Issues

Richard Anthony in the 70s at Cal State University Long Beach
Richard Anthony in the 70s at Cal State University Long Beach

Richard is an early zero waste pioneer having started at Cal State University Long Beach – Recycling Center, a model program and training ground for California Recycling activists. He went on to co-found the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) and became its first president in 1975. Richard also co-founded the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), Zero Waste San Diego (ZWSD) and the Save the Albatross Coalition (STAC), which he chairs.

Yet once a month, on a Saturday morning Richard and his team are busy setting up San Diego (SD) Fixit Clinics in San Diego County communities that has grown in breadth and impact. Starting at the Downtown Central Library in 2016 and spreading to a local church, school, a Goodwill Facility, and even inside a local brewery. The Clinics, similar to Repair Cafes, allow local community members to meet up with volunteer repair experts or coaches to fix their products together and learn how to maintain them. Items repaired range from lamps to power saws, giving them a second chance and save money, reducing waste and building community relations and empowerment

The SD Fixit Clinic continues to grow and is hosting a clinic on the 2nd Saturday of the month in Central San Diego and now starting in July a new North County Chapter in Vista, CA on the 4th Saturday of the month. This program has continued to help the community learn the importance of repair and not just toss when it is broken and replacing it with something brand new. This clinic takes place for 2 hours, and ask the attendees to register in advance in order to properly diagnose the issue and has a 50:50 success rate, bringing in the young and the experienced, homeless and low income. Since 2016 the SD Fixit Clinic has helped over 500 community members try to fix their items and diverted over 1,000 lbs of material from going to the landfill. Some things cannot be fixed but everyone is always enjoying themselves. Successes are celebrated with a ring of the bell and cheers from the crowd. The smiles and the thank you are enough to bring their loyal coaches an ideal intergenerational mix of the young and the retired back each month.

During the week, Richard and his team work for the County of San Diego supporting the county’s school, multi-family housing and commercial recycling programs; coordinating public awareness, proper equipment and hauler relations. Some might call this work is boring for a recycling activist who has put in close to 50 years of recycling, zero waste and anti incineration organizing. “It’s not boring or tedious work. It keeps our team in touch with the people in key institutions that need to be part of recycling for us to get to high levels of diversion and even zero waste.” (Zero Waste defined as 90% or more diversion from landfill and no incineration, see ZWIA.org)

Richard Anthony and Larry Banegas setting up Zero Waste Zones at the San Diego Earth Fair
Richard Anthony and Larry Banegas setting up Zero Waste Zones at the San Diego Earth Fair

This local work is combined with a head spinning travel schedule that has taken Richard, accompanied by a team of international zero waste planners and activists, to India, Philippines, Hong Kong, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, West Europe and US cities for Zero Waste International Alliance sponsored conferences, workshops and dialogues. Richard also coordinates meetings and regularly scheduled conference calls for the Save the Albatross Coalition established by Grass Roots Recycling Network in 2017.Captain Charles Moore, Algalita Research Foundation, and Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance co-chair the Coalition.

In 2018 the Coalition initiated the ‘connect the cap’ campaign to prevent bottle caps from being released into the oceans. These caps are deadly to the Albatross, which mistakes them for food, and then regurgitates the plastic to feed their young, killing 100s of thousands a year. The demise of this iconic species seems inevitable if these caps continue to float on the seas’ surface. The Coalition working with several likeminded non-profit organization first tried to work with Pepsi, Coca Cola and Nestles but, in frustration with no reaction, supported legislation AB 319 in 2018 which failed in appropriations.

In 2019, informed by the results the NOAA call for research into marine debris, the Save the Albatross Coalition supported International Clean Up Day on beaches throughout the world. The cleanup included an audit of the name brands on plastic litter that was collected. 90% of the materials came from name brands recognized by any consumer and Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle Waters.

The Coalition is now publishing these results in an international effort to pass Connect the Cap legislation in jurisdictions along the entire US West Coast, Hawaii and Philippines. The Coalition steering committee is contemplating issuing a boycott onCoca Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle Waters and its distributors ofproducts unless there is cooperation on the bottle cap issue.  In the meantime, the Coalition is supporting California single-use plastic ban AB 54 and SB 1080 and helping by getting the word out to the community and creating action alert toolkits for consumers to easily follow and notify their politicians the importance to support this legislation. Furthermore, the Coalition is supporting a nuisance civil law suit by Monterey, CA.  The suit argues for on going funding for beach clean up of brand name products and packaging.

“We also expect to reintroduce the Connect the cap legislation in the California Legislature later this year”, stated Laura Anthony, Richard’s daughter and long-time staff of Richard Anthony Associates.

“We only have one planet and the oceans are the source of life for us all”, Laura stated. “We are the Albatross.”

Author: Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Washington, DC

Neil Seldman was mentored by Richard Anthony and they have worked together for over 40 years

One Reply to “Richard Anthony Zero Waste Pioneer Continues to Work on Global and Local Issues”

  1. pål Mårtensson

    I know Richard A since many years and I never met anyone more comitted and nice person as him, to work with him is so cool, you have no option and u must love him. I have the pleasure to report that in the war between reality and romance, reality is not the stronger! Richard is Reality and Romance, being with him is like breaking the sound wall , no rest, no relaxation – only Zero Waste Work 24/7;)

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