Where Does It Go? A Trip to Shoreway Environmental Center

The Shoreway Environmental Center Tour was eye-opening for Leadership Council SMC members, pictured L to R: Karen Hager, Kamille Lang, Margi Power, Kim Oliff, Ross Sit, Monroe Labouisse

During their tour of the San Carlos Shoreway Environmental Center on April 25, 2023, members of the Leadership Council SMC community got an inside look at how garbage, compost, and recyclables are handled. This event complemented Leadership Council SMC’s April focus on Environmental Impact and aligned with the annual celebration of Earth Day.

Attendees witnessed exactly how recyclables are sorted in Shoreway’s Materials Recovery Facility and how compost and garbage are consolidated at theTransfer Station. The RethinkWaste Team reviewed bin sorting, reuse and reduction tips, and answered many of the group’s tricky questions about which bins we should put things in (or not!). It can be pretty complicated, and the sorting that we do of our household waste can make a big difference! 

Leadership Council SMC hosts Leadership Council Learning events such as the Shoreway Environmental Center Tour to members of our community: Graduates of our immersive programs, current class members, speakers, partners, and sponsors. These events are an opportunity to augment learning, expand knowledge of what’s happening in San Mateo County, and connect with community leaders.

Kim Oliff, Hillsborough City School District Board of Education Vice President and member of the Leadership CORPS Class of 2023, joined the tour. She said, “Leadership Council SMC offers a range of opportunities to dive into learning at the level that is right for you. I appreciate opportunities like the Shoreway tour, and being part of a community of leaders who are engaged in lifelong learning.”

Did You Know? Takeaways from the Shoreway Tour!

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle now have a fourth "R": ROT! Composting of home food scraps into a small kitchen compost bin is critical to the process to ensure that organic scraps don’t end up in the garbage or recycling containers. When organic materials rot, they release short-lived climate pollutants including methane gas. Minimizing these pollutants is so important that there’s a law, SB 1383, that governs the process…Sorting your compostables is mandatory!
  • It’s Not Always What It Seems: Sometimes packaging touts “It’s compostable” when it isn’t. For example, most “compostable cutlery” takes so long to break down that it is treated as garbage at the Center.
  • Hand Sorted with Help from Technology: The Shoreway Team is very intentional about what happens at the Transfer Station where their staff hand sort with the help of sensors.

We are grateful to the team at Shoreway Environmental Center, California’s Greenest Recycling Center and Transfer Station, for this great tour! They serve as a national model for sustainable building practices and innovative recycling and material handling operations. Learn more, including how to take a tour, on their website.