City of Arcata Zero Waste Action Plan

In 2017, Zero Waste Humboldt worked with the City of Arcata staff to develop its ten-year Zero Waste Action Plan. These plans include the guiding core values of the City and measurable goals to monitor waste reduction progress. The City of Arcata Zero Waste Action Plan can be downloaded from the City of Arcata website.

Refill-Not-Landfill Network Project

The Refill-Not-Landfill Network Project project began to encourage the reduction of single-use plastic water bottles and promote the use of reusable water bottles. Since 2016, Zero Waste Humboldt has awarded 10 water bottle refill stations to three local schools and six local governments. Currently, the Refill-Not-Landfill Network Project has saved over 100,000 water bottles from the landfill.

Food Serviceware and Packaging Choices

Zero Waste Humboldt conducted packaging research, led by Dr. Julie Layshock, for the North Coast Co-op prepared foods section. This analysis was an assessment of food and beverage packaging at the Co-op with a database of packaging and environmental claims. It has been a reference tool for several businesses in evaluating their use of plastics and packaging. 

Download the Report

Understanding Packaging Scorecard

The Understanding Packaging (UP) Scorecard is a science-based online tool to help users select foodware and food packaging that is safe and environmentally sustainable. The tool has been developed by a multi-stakeholder collaboration. Please note that this is a beta version of the tool. Future versions of the UP Scorecard with new features and additional improvements will be published on

The U P Scorecard compares commonly used foodware and packaging products with a single yardstick to offer the first-ever free and comprehensive tool for making sustainable purchasing decisions for these products based on the latest available science. Packaging choices are scored for Plastic Pollution, Chemicals of Concern, Climate, Water Use, Sustainable Sourcing, and Recoverability. Developed through an unprecedented collaboration of leading food service companies, NGOs and technical experts, the UP Scorecard provides an authoritative resource for businesses and environmental advocates.

City of Arcata Disposable Foodware Regulations

The City of Arcata’s ordinance is intended to reduce the use of single-use plastic foodware that contribute to street litter, marine pollution, harm to wildlife, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste sent to landfills. The ordinance is applicable to all food service establishments including but not limited to: restaurants, grocery stores, bars, cafes, food vendors, and cafeterias. 

Zero Waste High School Leadership Development Project

The Zero Waste High School Leaders Project (2016-2017) was a pilot project supported by the Grassroots Grants Program of Humboldt Area Foundation. With an application process, ZWH selected six students from McKinleyville High School, Arcata High School, and Northcoast Preparatory Academy. ZWH staff met with students as they developed their own projects for researching waste generation on their campuses. 

The students kept notes on their projects, and participated in regular meetings with ZWH staff to follow a basic ‘science project’ format. We learned that timing is everything in working with the schools. Funds for a project must be awarded prior to the beginning of the academic year, for the process of selecting students to participate, and to measure, monitor, and report on waste generation at their schools. The project culminated in student reports and attendance of a parent, ZWH staffer, and 5 students attending the Zero Waste USA Youth Convergence at San Francisco City College’s campus in March 2017 for a weekend.

North Country Fair 2012-2016, 2019, 2022

The 2012-2016, 2019, 2022

North Country Fair Waste Reduction was Zero Waste Humboldt’s first project.

Invited by the North Country Fair board of directors, we recruited, trained and scheduled over 50 volunteers each year for this 2-day event to serve as “quality control monitors” of the seven stations that had 3 containers for sorting Recycle, Compost, and Landfill. Recommendations were developed and improved upon each year for detailing waste reduction agreements in vendor contracts.  This changed the types of single use food serviceware, the methods for serving food, and even the menus vendors planned in advance for the Fair.

Booth instructions were developed for all of the shifts of workers at each food vendor’s booth. Over time, the NC Fair’s waste generated decreased from 2 large dumpsters to one small container. Creating a baseline with annual data on discarded materials through accurate measuring, recording and photo documentation produced important tracking and management information for the Fair board of directors to make improvements each year.  This Fair has no controls of entry point, tickets, gates, or method of restricting single use plastic and nonrecyclable/noncompostable materials. The next area of continued work that will further reduce the waste generated is to encourage the public and develop Fair infrastructure for attendees to bring their own containers and utensils for food and beverages. The North Country Fair has become a learning model for dedication to reducing waste at large outdoor events.