Posts Tagged ‘hazardous waste removal’

Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

What To Do: Recycling Mattresses

March 9th, 2015

Mattresses_in_LandfillEasily one of the biggest eyesores you can come across in public, illegally discarded mattresses are seen far too often today. Whether it be in alleyways, vacant lots, or along the sides of the freeway, dumped mattresses have long been a thorn in the sides of public utility departments and pose some serious hazards to the general public.

While it’s far from okay to dispose of a mattress by leaving it on the side of the road, it’s easy to understand given the limited options available for resale and recycling. Lets face it, there is not much of a market for used mattresses, and in fact, a majority of donation centers will refuse mattresses unless they are nearly brand new. Heading to the landfill is an option, but not the most environmentally friendly one. Mattresses take up a lot of room (as much as 40 cubic feet) and the springs make it extremely difficult to compact. Most landfills will charge you an extra fee to deal with the added troubles of mattresses.

While the state of recycling mattresses seems grim, you need not worry. There are ways to dispose of an old mattress without resorting to the aforementioned tactics. Here are some of the things you can do with that old mattress:

  • If you feel the mattress is in decent enough shape for further use, you can offer it up for free on websites like Craigslist or Freecycle.
  • Look for specific mattress recycling centers like DR3 Recycling. They deconstruct mattresses by hand and are able to recycle 85-90% of it. Not in the Bay Area? Use this handy search tool from Earth911 to find recyclers near you.
  • If you have to tools and the time, you can opt to take your mattress apart and recycling the raw materials yourself. Check out the step-by step process you need to follow here.

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”.


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.

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:


Albertsons Settles Case Alleging Mishandling of Hazardous Waste

June 30th, 2014

Albertsons-shopAlbertsons, a grocery chain with more than a thousand locations nation-wide, has agreed to pay $3.3 million dollars to settle a case brought against them alleging stores in California mishandled the disposal of hazardous waste.

In the lawsuit, filed in the Orange County Superior Court, several government agencies accused Albertsons of illegally transporting and disposing of dangerous and possibly deadly materials including pool chemicals, batteries, and various types of over-the-counter medication. It was claimed that these products were disposed of in dumpsters meant for non-hazardous material and transported to unauthorized waste processors.

Although Albertson’s has asserted that they have done nothing wrong, they have agreed to overhaul the waste management policies and practices at all 118 California locations. The overhaul includes implementing a computerized waste management tracking system, expanding employee training on the proper handling of hazardous materials, and conducting regular internal audit. Albertsons is also required to submit progress reports over the next five years, or face further penalties.

This is quite a setback for the chain, which in the last few years has made great strides towards putting more environmentally friendly policies into action in the state where these allegations took place. In 2012, the Albertson’s location in Carpintina earned the EPA GreenChill Environmental Achievement Award for being the first grocery store in the nation to use low global warming potential refrigerants. Two stores in Santa Barbara achieved “zero waste” goals, diverting 95% of waste away from landfills. Three stores in Carlsbad, Oceanside and Alpine are currently using rooftop solar panels to power the stores.

Hopefully, whether these charges took place or not, Albertsons can use this opportunity to promote better communication and continue to strive towards an eco-friendly business model.


By Ethan Malone

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