Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

E-Waste Recycling: The Next Step In National Defense

January 21st, 2015

e-wasteHere at Fast Haul, we are HUGE fans of electronic waste (or e-waste) recycling. The electronics we use and replace on a daily basis are filled with some of the most harmful and toxic chemicals on the planet, and can wreck havoc on the environment. Although recently, another great reason to increase e-waste recycling efforts has come to light. In a recent piece by the National Defense Magazine, e-waste recycling programs benefit the U.S. defense system by curbing the amount of counterfeit parts that can in the electronic components they use.

The U.S. military depends heavily on electronic components in their defense systems; you can find them in thousands of pieces of equipment like aircraft, submarines, night vision goggles, thermal weapons systems, and helicopters. You would think (and hope) that the US military only uses the highest quality electronics and technology in their equipment, but as noted by the story, more then 1 million pieces of counterfeit electronic components were identified in US military equipment in 2009 and 2010.

You might be wondering how this can happen, and an investigation by US Senate Armed Services Committee has uncovered why. The committee traced various supply chains back to the Guangdong Province in China, known as the “epicenter of counterfeit activities”. The outfits that make these counterfeit components rely heavily on e-waste shipped over from the west to provide “feedstock” (i.e. the raw materials). Once the materials are collected, they are subjected to a plethora of harmful and destructive techniques before being implemented in “new” equipment (i.e. being soaked in acid, heated over open fires, left outside in the rain, etc.). These techniques make the components extremely unreliable and susceptible to failure.

Your next question might be “how can I make sure my e-waste doesn’t contribute to a malfunctioning missile or fighter jet crashing?” Well, the answer is to do your research before disposing of you e-waste and make sure the recycler can show you proof that your e-waste is being handled responsibly.

(Source)

Safeway to Pay Nearly $10 Million for Waste Disposal Infractions

January 12th, 2015

SafewayFor the second largest supermarket chain in the nation, the New Year is off to a bad start.

In a decision levied by the Alameda County Superior Court, Safeway Inc. will have to pay $9.87 million as part of a settlement for improper hazardous waste management. The charges brought against Safeway are a result of a 3-year investigation of nearly 500 stores (including stores of Safeway-owned chains like Pak ‘N Save, Pavilions, and Vons) and distribution centers across the state.

Ironically, the investigation into Safeway started when district attorneys in Southern California were looking into the practices of a different business.  They discovered that Safeway was shipping hazardous waste from stores back to distribution centers without using licensed transporters. This information gave prosecutors enough reason to begin surprise waste inspections at stores across the state.

As the inspections rolled out, investigators discovered that workers at hundreds of Safeway locations were disposing of hazardous waste into common dumpsters. On top of that, workers were also tossing sensitive documents like pharmacy patient records without shredding them, leaving customers susceptible to identity theft.

On top of the financial penalty, the settlement stipulates that Safeway must continue its First Assistant Store Manager Program, which identifies and addresses compliance issues at the store level and oversees yearly store audits.  Between the start of the investigation and now, district attorneys have already been working with the company to develop new procedures to ensure proper waste disposal.

While Safeway admits no wrongdoing (a move we are used to seeing among big companies like this), they have agreed to “continue to dedicate significant resources to these important [waste management] programs”.

(Source)

Despite Recent Storms, California Still Far From Optimal Water Levels

December 18th, 2014

vineyardGiven the recent downpours that northern California has received, many people are left to wonder if they can take this as a sign to resume watering their lawn and taking longer showers. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. According to recent data, the Golden State is still faces a significant deficit in water levels.

According to recent satellite data collected by NASA, California needs around 11 trillion gallons of rainwater to end the record-setting drought. That’s enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool 17 million times! The study to determine the amount of water the state needs was the first of its kind, using Earth’s gravitational field to measure fluctuations as well as documenting changes to the shape of the planet’s surface.

NASA also reported on the groundwater levels and the state of the snowcap. Data suggests that California’s 2 biggest river basins, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, have lost a combined 4 trillion gallons of water per year since 2011. This year’s snowpack was one of the three lowest on record and the worst since 1977. With less snow we tend to see less sunlight reflection, which means Earth is absorbing much more heat then usual.

While the rain might not have put much of a dent in the amount of water we need, the states reservoirs received a substantial boost. According to measurements taken by the Department of Water Resources, 2 of the states largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, saw their water levels rise from 41% to 53% and 44% to 54%, respectively. The 10 other smaller reservoirs also saw their water levels rise.

California residents should take these signs as a reason to continue monitoring personal water use and cutting back as much as possible. That means checking pipes for leaks, taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet when washing your hands, and only washing full loads in the washer. You can find more water saving tips HERE.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/18/us/california-rains-and-drought/index.html

Reducing Waste During the Holidays

December 11th, 2014

holiday_waste_tree_paperWith Christmas right around the corner, chances are you are pretty busy getting ready for the big day: buying gifts for the family, picking out a tree, getting all the ornaments and decorations ready to hang, and drawing up plans for the perfect Christmas dinner.

Although it might be the furthest thing from your mind at the moment, but the US sees a substantial rise in household waste production. According to the EPA, the waste generated by Americans between thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by 25 percent (almost 1 million extra tons). In preparing for the holidays, we hope you take a moment to implement some of these waste-saving tips:

  • When shopping, bring along some reusable tote bags to carry your gifts. If you need to use the bag that the store gives you, remember to bring it with you the next time you go shopping.
  • Wrap gifts in newspaper or recycled wrapping paper.
  • Unplug holiday lights during the daytime. Not only will this save you money on your energy bill, but it will also extend the lives of the lights
  • If you are buying batteries to go along with an electronic gift, buy ones that can be recharged. It will save them money on buying more batteries down the line, and keep less dead batteries out of the trash.
  • After the holidays, most Christmas trees will end up in the landfill. Before hauling your tree off to the dump, check with your cities waste department to see if they can collect and mulch trees for later use. (Buying an artificial tree is always an option as well)
  • If possible, buy gifts that are made from recycled materials.

From everyone here at Fast Haul, have a happy, waste-free holiday!

Recycling Costs On The Rise for San Francisco

November 25th, 2014

truck-and-armWith the holiday season in full swing, people all across the Bay Area are gearing up to start shopping: hunting for deals, mapping out stores to hit on Black Friday, and getting gift lists together. Unfortunately for the city of San Francisco, they will be getting a rather unwelcomed gift this year: higher recycling rates.

In a new contract proposed between the city and long-time service provider Recology, the bill for city departments will increase by 11% over the first four years of a six-year contract worth $44 million. This means that on average, the city would see a 2.85% rate increase every year, with no increases in the last two years.

The increase in cost for the city is likely due to the rising commercial/residential costs this past year. Historically, rates for city departments have been set at 20% below commercial rates. But with the rising costs, last year the city played around 31.4% below commercial rates. The new contract hopes to re-align the costs once again.

The contract, while not expected to face much if any opposition when brought to the city board, is an uneasy reminder of just how dominant Recology has been in San Francisco. In 1932, the company was granted a “permanent concession” to individuals or small, independent businesses that were in possession of the 97 collection route permits. After that, those 97 permit holders banded together to create the company that is now Recology. The permanent rights that were given became assets of the company, thus beginning a long and lucrative monopoly.

Since then, efforts to break the monopoly have failed, including a 2012 ballot measure that hoped to bring some competition to the market. The ballot, which Recology spent $1.7 million opposing, was rejected by 76% of voters.

 
 
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