Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

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.

Water Thieves Adding to CA’s Drought Woes

November 15th, 2014

We are all well aware of the adverse effects the drought has brought upon the state and its residents. A few posts ago, I outlined one of the bigger causes for concern regarding our already depleted water levels, but recently news outlets have identified a new offender in the battle for water: Thieves.

In some of the state’s worst hit areas water has become a valuable commodity, with some people turning to illegal means as a way of acquiring it. Recent investigations have identified criminals operating illegal marijuana grow sites as some of the most prolific water thieves. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marijuana Enforcement Team, these marijuana farms have siphoned 1.2 billion gallons of water from local and public sources. That’s enough water to fill 2,000 Olympic-sized pools!

illegal water diversion

An example of an illegal pump that are used by thieves to steal water

The theft of water doesn’t just impact length of our showers and the extent we can water our plants, it puts local wildlife and vital resources in jeopardy. As a result of the theft by marijuana growers, the population of Salmon found throughout northern California has been put in severe danger.

Humboldt County has seen a couple major cases of water theft in the last several weeks. Criminals were able to steal around 20,000 gallons from a community services district board in the town of Weott. Three weeks later another 20,000 gallons of water were taken from a surplus tank at the Bridgeville Elementary School in Eureka, causing the school to shut down this past Tuesday.

In North San Juan, a small town located along the Sierra Nevada Mountains, thousands of gallons were stolen from a fire station this summer, during the peak of wildfire season. Although it is purely speculation at this point, most residents and authorities in the afore-mentioned areas suspect marijuana farmers to be behind the crimes.

In order to stop these criminals from stealing the states valuable resources, residents need to be dilligent about reporting any suspicious activity and waste. These reports are usually taken by the utilities department of your city or county.

Sources:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/drought-is-taking-california-back-to-the-wild-wild-west-20141110

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Pot-Farmers-Steal-Water-Amid-Epic-Drought-281822141.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/illegal-pot-plantations-hazard-california-salmon/

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_24024319/water-theft-forces-humboldt-county-school-close

Recycling CD’s & DVD’s: What to Do

October 21st, 2014

With the steady decline in CD and DVD use, brought on by services like Netflix, Hulu and Steam, the US is looking at an ever-growing influx of obsolete and soon to be obsoletes discs. Most people think that since they are made from plastic, discs can be mixed in with the rest of the recyclables. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

cdsIn 1988, the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) developed a classification system to help consumers and recyclers better understand the different types of plastic, as well as how to recycle them. Compact discs are categorized as a type 7 plastic, the most toxic kind of plastic available. Type 7 plastics basically comprise of a combination of other kinds of plastics not identified in the other six categories of the rating system. Most type 7 plastics contain Polylactides and Polycarbonates; especially the particularly toxic compound Bisphenol A (BPA). These compounds make for difficult recycling conditions that most centers are not prepared for.

You might be asking yourself “well, what can I do with my stack of old CD’s?” Your best option is to send them in to the CD Recycling Center of America. Not only can you send them CD’s, but cell phones, MP3 players, jewel cases, floppy discs, and computer cables as well. They do not charge for these services, although they do ask that all discs are mailed already disassembled as a courtesy (i.e. discs out of the cases, paper inserts removed from cases, etc.). Due to sponsorships from several CD/DVD manufacturers, they are able to keep their services free of charge, although they do ask for donations from the public to help (as little as 2 – 5 cents per disc makes a difference).

Recycling compact discs responsibly is just one more step towards limiting harmful waste and achieving sustainability.  For more information on the CD recycling process, check out the video below:

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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)

 
 
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