Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

Tips for a Waste Free School Year

October 7th, 2014

school-kidsThe beginning of autumn means the start of a new school year, marking a joyous occasion for parents and a tearful end to summer vacation for kids. In honor of this occasion, we decided to share a few tips that can make this school year your most eco-friendly to date:

-  Before shopping for new school supplies, take inventory of what supplies you already have and can use again this year. Should you have to get new materials, look for things you can get the most use out of (i.e., reloadable mechanical pencils).

- Aim for packing “waste-free” lunches. This includes implementing reusable containers and utensils and minimizing use of plastic snack bags. Remember to mark all reusable items with your child’s name and contact info should it be misplaced at school so they can be returned. For more info on how to pack waste-free lunches, check out http://www.wastefreelunches.org/.

-  Encourage your child to use 3 ring binders instead of spiral bound notebooks for note taking in class. Not only can binders be reused for different classes, but the binder paper can be easily removed for sorting and recycling as well.

-  Use grocery bags to maker covers for textbooks. Chances are that the school reuses textbooks, and covers help keep them in good condition for years to come.

-  Biking or walking to school helps keep air pollution from cars down, but gives kids a nice bit of exercise as well.  Should you live far enough away from the school to walk, coordinate with other parents in the area to start carpooling.

-  Work with your child’s school to promote eco-friendly activities, like starting a recycling program or a community compost bin. Programs like theses not only benefit the environment, but present learning opportunities for the children as well.

Amid legal strife, Oakland will return garbage contract to Waste Management

September 29th, 2014

84905_1280x720In a surprising turn of events, The City of Oakland has decided to bow out of the legal battle brought on by Waste Management and give back the contract that will keep the company in control of a majority of the waste collection services.

While the council’s unanimous vote allows California Waste Solutions (CWS) to still be in charge for collecting recyclables, garbage and compost collection duties will be the responsibility of Waste Management. This means that the hundred plus year relationship between Waste management and Oakland will continue.

Some city officials are meeting the decision with a sigh of relief. Under the previous contract, CWS would have had to drastically expand their operations in the city in a very short amount of time. This would include building new facilitates, acquiring 150 new trucks, and 300,000 new trash bins. Some officials whose advice fell on deaf ears suggested that the small East Bay company could not meet the lofty challenge.

On the other hand, a faction of officials who help get the contract in the hands of CWS in the first place are less than enthused. Councilwoman Desley Brooks offered her take on the situation, saying, “We have set a precedent here tonight that when people don’t get their way and they have enough money, they just do whatever they want to, say whatever they want to and there are no ramifications for what they do”.

As part of the new deal, Waste Management has agreed to drop the lawsuit, end the petition drive they started, and reimburse the city around $800,000 to cover their Oakland’s court costs.

(Source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-OKs-waste-contract-compromise-5774321.php)

Waste Management taking Oakland to Court over Lost Contract

September 15th, 2014

In the wake of the recent controversy over the city of Oakland offering a 10-year contract to a rival company, Houston-based Waste waste_management_logo-320x220Management has decided to take their grievances to court.

Waste Management, the nations largest trash and recycling hauler, claims that the Oakland City Council hindered the bidding process in order to stack the odds in favor of the West Oakland-based California Waste Solutions (CWS). Citing the fact that CWS has never held a garbage hauling contract, submitted proposals past the agreed-upon due date, and failed to comply with Oakland’s contracting rules, Waste Management feels that the only reason Oakland awarded the valuable contract to CWS was due to “personal and political connections”.

Waste Management also adds that after they reviewed and rejected their proposal in May, City Council decided to re-open the bidding process and allow CWS to look at Waste Managements proposal in order to alter and re-submit a new proposal of their own (originally, CWS only wanted part of the contract, but was able to re-submit for the entire contract).

Not shockingly, the City Council is claiming no wrongdoing, as they feel they picked awarded the contract to the company that could provide the residents of Oakland the best value. Waste Managements proposal estimated that the city would have to endure no less then a 50 percent fee hike. City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan defended the choice saying, “It is completely normal to pick the one with the lowest price. We picked the one with the lowest price for the public. We saved the public $200 million.”

 

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Waste-Management-sues-Oakland-over-1-billion-5695911.php#photo-1922607

Leaky Pipes Not Helping California’s Drought

August 19th, 2014

droughtIt’s no secret that the Bay Area, as well as the rest of California, has been hit hard by this summer’s record-breaking drought. Unfortunately for Bay Area residents, newly released data on the condition of water pipes is showing us just how much of the water we have is wasted.

State records have reflected that the Bay Area loses a whopping 23 billion gallons of water a year, enough water to serve 71,000 families annually. The water loss can be attributed to failing, underground water pipes. These leaks not only waste the increasingly scares resource, but cause revenue losses and property damage as well. These figures are especially disparaging to residents, who are being asked to cut water use by as much as 20 percent.

The estimations of lost water for Bay Area cities and counties have varied between 3 and 16 percent annually. On the low end, cities like Antioch and Santa Clara have fared relatively well (3.5 and 5.2 percent, respectively), but some cities like Livermore (14.2 percent) and Hayward (15.75 percent) are losing a significant amount.

One of the major factors leading to pipe leaks and failures is age. Most pipes are made of one of two materials: cast iron and asbestos cement. Both materials are very close to the end of their functional lifespans. Adding the state’s penchant for earthquakes and landslides, California is faced with a landscape that does not bode well for underground piping.

Although agencies like the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) have utilized new technology to better detect leaks, the American Water Works Association still feel that the nation is fast facing “the dawn of the replacement era”. They predict that replacing and expanding water systems will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years. While these figures seems especially daunting, it will be worth it in the long run if California or any other state is faced with a severe water shortage.

(Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_26350962/california-drought-bay-area-loses-billions-gallons-leaky)

 

By Ethan Malone

Oakland Gambles with New Trash Hauling Contract

August 6th, 2014

cwslogo_tagline

For the first time in years, the city of Oakland will be counting on a different company to handle garbage pickup.

Last week, city council unanimously voted to award the highly coveted 10-year contract (valued at $1 billion) to California Waste Solutions (CWS), an Oakland-based company whose primary expertise lies in recycling. The decision to place garbage-collecting responsibilities for the entire city in the hands of a company with no experience with garbage represents an extremely risky venture.

With CWS taking over garbage collection duties, it marks the end a decades-long business relationship between the city and Waste Management, the agency previously handling garbage pickup. At times in the past the relationship has been strained, many pointing the Waste Managements decision to lock out 500 members of the Teamsters labor union after workers refused the companies demand that they pay a larger share of their healthcare benefits as a major factor. As a result, trash was left uncollected for two weeks and city officials were not too happy. (Source)

The major turning point during negotiations came when Waste Management refused to budge off the proposed $100 a year rate increase. CWS offered a more competitive bid, with a figure that would only cost residents around $80 more per year. With the winning bid comes the daunting task of CWS expanding their current operations to meet its new needs. In less then a year, CWS must:

  • Build a transfer station in Oakland
  • Add 150+ employees
  • Double its 70-truck fleet
  • Invest around $80 million into operations
  • Swap out 300,000 trash bins

Should CWS fall short during preparations, they have prepared to let Republic Services, the second largest garbage service in the US, will allow them to use their transfer station in Richmond.

(Source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Oakland-s-plan-to-hire-local-trash-hauler-could-5667987.php#photo-6389119)

 
 
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