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Around the Bay Area in Waste Management News – January 2018

January 26th, 2018

As a hub for progressive environmental ideologies, you can always count on waste management to be making headlines in Northern California. As we kick off the New Year, we look around the Bay Area to see what is being done to address issues and improve recycling and waste management in the month of January:

Cupertino to Adopt a “Zero Waste” Policy

In an effort to do away with the need for a landfill or waste incinerator, the city of Cupertino has adopted a “zero waste” policy to be implemented immediately. The overall goal of the policy, comprised of 16 separate waste elimination priorities, is to dispose of 80 percent of the cities waste through alternative means such as composting, recycling or reuse by the year 2025.

While officials are skeptical that the city could ever truly achieve zero waste, they feel that the increased effort could get them quite close to the goal (As it stands now, 65 percent of residential waste and 75 percent of commercial waste is diverted away from landfills in Cupertino). Beyond reducing the level of trash produced, officials are hoping that improved waste diversion efforts will help prevent pollution and help conserve resources.

Salesforce to Implement Aggressive Water Recycling Plan

The Salesforce Tower, the latest and greatest addition to the San Francisco skyline, has revealed plans to include a membrane bioreactor in the basement that will have the ability to recycle the entire buildings wastewater. The bioreactor will be able to process water from all 61 floors of the building (as well as rainwater runoff) and treat it for reuse. When it becomes fully operational, it will be the biggest water recycling system for a commercial building in the entire US.

Working as a dual filtration and treatment system, The bioreactor will also be able to take some of the pressure off of San Francisco’s sewage system by diverting water during storms. While Salesforce is only leasing 36 of the 61 floors in the building, they company has agreed to foot the entire bill for the bioreactor.

Milpitas Residents Upset After New Garbage Hauling Contract

In December, the city of Milpitas chose to sign a waste collection contract with Milpitas Sanitation Inc., moving away from long time partner Republic Services. Although the decision to end the 30-year relationship with Republic was made to save money and reduce contributions to the nearby Newby Island Landfill, residents are seeing little benefit so far.

A recent City Council meeting saw several people lodge complaints on a litany of issues with the new trash service, namely the sizes of the new waste bins. Residents feel that the new divided bins, featuring a 67-gallon landfill section and 29-gallon compost section, are not a generous as the previous and feature a much smaller garbage allotment. Other complaints include extra trash bags being ignored or strewn across the street, garbage not being picked up at all, and issues regarding billing. Council members present to hear the complaints say they are actively working with Milpitas Sanitation in order to work though these concerns.

Bay Area Cities Score Well on WalletHub “Green” Analysis

October 16th, 2017

In a recent analysis, the website WalletHub analyzed the United States’ largest cities to rank the greenest metropolitan regions in the country. In the analysis, cities were scored based on four factors: environment, transportation, energy sources, and lifestyles & policy.

Perhaps not surprisingly, cities in the Bay Area and Northern California as a region scored very well in the survey. Of the the 100 cities included in the study, 5 Bay Area/Northern California cities appeared in the Top Ten:

  • San Francisco (#1)
  • Fremont (#3)
  • San Jose (#5)
  • Sacramento (#7)
  • Oakland (#10)

Here is a map of the results. The smaller dots represent the best-performing cities:

Source: WalletHub

Fast Haul supports the green aspirations of the cities of the Bay Area. Our organization strives to recycle or donate as large of a percentage of the goods we haul as possible.

Food Waste Recycling Drops Dramatically in Alameda County

February 9th, 2015

It looks like the green bins in the Bay Area are not getting the love they deserve.

In a recent study completed by StopWaste, a public agency tasked with reducing waste, numerous Alameda County cities are showing drastic increases in food scraps being discarded in trash bins in 2014.

The data was complied by workers who randomly sampled 3,000 garbage bins, both commercial and residential, in 15 Alameda County cities. The data shows that all 15 cities added to the percentage of food scraps in the trash compared to data collected in 2013. For example, the city of Fremont more then doubled its figure, going from 21 percent to 43 percent. On the lower end, Union City only saw a 2 percent increase, although they were the outright worst performing city going into 2014.

20150205_061722_OAK-COMPOST-0206-WEBOther data collected by the agency shows that homes in these cities are more reluctant to put out their green bins on pickup day, with 47 percent of home opting out compared to 28 percent in 2013. Whichever way you decide to look at it, the fact is that Bay Area residents are not recycling organics like they were in the past.

Several possible reasons for this unsettling trend have been hypothesized, one being that transplants new to the Bay Area are not familiar with the concept of separating food scraps from trash, a practice not particularly common in the US. Another could be that folks who were actively composting in 2013 are simply tired of the process.

Composting and recycling organics can be a messy (and sometimes smelly) job, but it is a huge weapon in the fight against global warming on this planet. Organic matter, when mixed in with regular trash, greenhouse gases like methane get released which contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Below you will find some tips that will hopefully make collecting organic was easier in your household:

  • Remember what can and cant be put in the green bin:
    • Good: all food scraps (meat and bones, cereal, dairy, coffee grounds, fruit, veggies), food-soiled paper (paper towels, plates, napkins, pizza boxes, paper bags, coffee grounds), yard trimmings (grass clippings, tree clippings)
    • Bad: plastics, glass, metal, liquids, pet waste
  • Line both your indoor and outdoor organics bins with crumpled newspaper to help absorb any moisture. Replace the newspaper frequently to keep it from getting too soaked and stuck to the bottom.
  • Aviod animals and bugs by keeping your outdoor green bin away from fences and closed securely.
  • Sprinkle rock salt or lime to help kill any insects (like maggots) that might pop up.
  • Wrap extra messy organics like meat, fish and  in newspaper or put it in a cereal box (without the plastic bag) before adding it to the green bin.
  • If possible, freeze meesy food waste untill you are ready to roll your green bin out, it will help control strong odors.
  • Empty your household container early and often, and roll your green bin out to the curb even if its not completely full to prevent stink-ups.
  • Wash both your indoor and outdoor bins on a regular basis using vinegar or baking soda to kill bad smells.
  • Biodegradable plastic bags can help control food waste, but not all recyclers allow them in green bins. Check with your recycling service to see which bags they accept. Most recycling service providers prefer you use paper bags.

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 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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