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California looks to ban removable plastic bottle caps, restrict plastic straws

Jeff Daniels, CNBC

…some see the fight against plastic garbage as more urgent since China this year stopped accepting plastic waste. North American plastic scrap has long been shipped to China but the world’s most populous country has been overwhelmed by its own waste and environmental problem and banned not only polyethylene terephthalate (or PET) commonly used in water and soda plastic bottles, but 24 different types of solid waste.

California may ban detachable caps on plastic bottles that could potentially set a bottling standard for the rest of the nation and the state also is looking at restricting plastic straws.

The plastic bottle cap legislation is designed to reduce litter and encourage that the caps get recycled but it would force beverage companies in California — the sixth-largest economy in the world — to switch to caps tethered to plastic bottles. That said, some bottled water companies such as Crystal Geyser have already started doing so and Nestle has it on sports caps for some of its Arrowhead bottled water.

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U.S. recycling woes pile up as China escalates ban

Adam Allington, BLOOMBERG NEWS

Tens of thousands of tons of recyclables have been diverted to U.S. landfills in recent months as the reality of China’s new ban on certain types of imported waste takes hold.

The ban, which went into effect Jan. 1, covers imports of 24 types of solid waste, including unsorted paper and the difficult-to-recycle types of plastic, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET), commonly used in plastic bottles.

And China’s import restrictions become even tighter March 1, increasing the sense of urgency U.S. recyclers feel to find new outlets for their products. At the same time, some industry officials say the situation could be a blessing in disguise if it eventually prods the U.S. toward processing more of its own recycling.

“What we’re seeing now is really unprecedented,” said Julie Miller, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

China has been by far the largest market for U.S scrap exports—in many cases the recyclable materials Americans put in curbside containers. China’s crackdown, now three months old, has both U.S. and global waste collectors scrambling to find new markets for their recyclables to avoid disrupting curbside collection services.

Read more at https://www.bna.com/us-recycling-woes-n57982089254/

Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , ,

Amid a flood of plastic, big companies try to clean up image

Danica Kirka, ASSOCIATED PRESS

In the last few months, Amcor, Ecover, Evian, L’Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Walmart and Werner & Mertz – which together use more than 6 million metric tons of plastic packaging per year — have committed to using only reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an innovation think-tank.

LONDON (AP) — Once a month, accountant Michael Byrne pulls on his rubber boots and makes his way to a spot on the banks of the River Thames.

He carefully marks out a one-square meter (11-square foot) patch and, with gloved hands, catalogues each bit of plastic he finds, meticulously reporting the data to the environmental group Thames21. On Aug. 20, for example, he and other volunteers found an average of 31 food wrappers, the sticks from 29 cotton swabs, 12 bottle tops and about 100 pieces of small chewed up plastic in each patch.

“We are the data gatherers” who provide evidence of the plastic that’s clogging the world’s rivers and oceans, he said. “We are building up a picture all along the river of what is washing up.”

Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is swelling after alarming forecasts that there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. Plus the shocking images are rolling in: Britain’s Sky News’ campaign against ocean plastic featuring whales bloated by plastic bags; National Geographic’s chilling picture of a seahorse curled around a pink cotton swab, and filmmaker David Attenborough’s documentary “Blue Planet II” footage of sea turtles shrouded in plastic.

Read more at https://www.apnews.com/21beacb71e40446a979b6b2edad1f5c1/Amid-a-flood-of-plastic,-big-companies-try-to-clean-up-image

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New year, new garbage services for Santa Rosa

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For more information about Recology programs on the North Coast, visit www.recology.com/recology-sonoma-marin/

Santa Rosa’s new garbage hauler is rolling out plenty of changes for customers this New Year’s, including new plastic bins, new trucks and new rates to pay for it all.

Recology, the San Francisco-based garbage company, completed its purchase of The Ratto Group December 23, making it the dominant waste hauler on the North Coast.

Most Sonoma County residents and businesses will see few changes from the sale because Recology has merely taken over Ratto’s existing service contracts.

But beginning Jan. 1, the company began operating in Santa Rosa under a new 15-year contract that calls for sweeping new changes to the refuse service to 55,000 residential and commercial accounts.

The city hopes Recology will provide not only better service and accountability than its predecessor, but will help it achieve its environmental goals of increasing recycling and reducing the amount of garbage heading to the landfill.

“They really buy into the zero waste philosophy,” said Gloria Hurtado, deputy city manager. “They certainly have a track record of achieving good results in other communities.”Here’s a look at some of the changes in store for local garbage service under Recology.

Read more at: New year, new garbage services for Santa Rosa

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable LivingTags , , ,

Concrete torched in Sonoma County fires being recycled for roadbeds

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Marta May lives in Bloomfield and is used to seeing trucks coming and going from the Stony Point Rock Quarry west of Cotati.

But never has she seen anything like the procession of heavy-duty dump trucks recently waiting to deliver their seemingly endless loads of rubble to the facility.

“There’s millions of them,” May said after passing the long line of trucks along Stony Point Road late last month.

Equally amazing is what they are leaving behind: a mountain of concrete chunks 30 feet high, the remains of hundreds of driveways and foundations cleared from some of the 5,100 residential properties in Sonoma County destroyed in October’s fires.

“It’s huge and it keeps getting bigger, and you wonder how much bigger that it can get,” May said.

The activity around the quarry is just one more reminder of the unprecedented scale of the fires, which scorched 137 square miles in Sonoma County, killed 24 people, and triggered the largest wildfire cleanup in the state history.

While tens of thousands of tons of ash and debris from destroyed homes is being deposited into the Sonoma County landfill, raising concerns about its future capacity, by contrast the concrete heading into the quarry will be recycled, said Mark Soiland, president of the Soiland Company, which owns the quarry.

Read more at: Concrete torched in Sonoma County fires being recycled for roadbeds

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China to US: Please stop sending us your junk

Jacopo Prisco, CNN MONEY

For decades, shipping containers have been loaded with American scrap and waste and dispatched to China for recycling.

It’s a $5 billion annual business that is now in danger of sinking.

Beijing notified the World Trade Organization in July that it plans to ban the import of 24 varieties of solid waste, including types of plastic and unsorted paper commonly sent from the U.S.

China said that the ban would take effect from September, giving American companies little time to prepare. ISRI estimates that roughly a fifth of the trade is at risk.

The announcement has made U.S. recyclers that trade with China very nervous.

“In the short term we’re going to see a significant drop of exports from the U.S. into China, and there is a little bit of panic in the market,” said Adina Adler, an official at the U.S. Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Read more at http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/11/news/china-scrap-ban-us-recycling/index.html

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Santa Rosa taps Recology as new garbage hauler 

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Low rates have long led to big headaches for The Ratto Group, the dominant waste hauler in the county, serving eight of the nine cities plus the unincorporated areas.

The company, founded by Jim Ratto, has been repeatedly criticized for cutting corners in Santa Rosa in ways that resulted in poor customer service, dangerous working conditions for workers, low recycling levels, and an aging fleet of trucks that didn’t live up to its contract with the city.

The curbside collection rates that most Santa Rosa residents pay are set to soar nearly 60 percent under a proposed 15-year contract the city has negotiated with the San Francisco-based garbage company buying its current hauler, The Ratto Group.

The city this week released details of the agreement it has struck with Recology to be the exclusive provider of the garbage, recycling and organic waste pickup services to approximately 55,000 residential and commercial accounts beginning Jan. 1.

If approved by the City Council, the deal is expected to generate $49 million in annual revenues for Recology, or $735 million over the life of the contract. The company would pay the city a 14 percent franchise fee, which would pump $7 million annually into the city’s coffers, or $105 million over the life of the agreement.

The report is the first official confirmation that Recology, one of the largest refuse providers on the West Coast, has survived a competitive and secretive selection process to ink a tentative deal with the city, a fact first reported by The Press Democrat earlier this month.

Read more at: Santa Rosa taps Recology as new garbage hauler | The Press Democrat

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Windsor chooses new garbage company, rejecting its current hauler

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After months of back and forth, political opposition, a lawsuit and threats of more lawsuits, Windsor once has again chosen a garbage hauler — for the third time since May.

The saga represents a grueling first example of the process that other local cities, including Santa Rosa, are embarking on as they renew or re-evaluate curbside garbage contracts, most of which are with the same hauler, the Santa-Rosa-based Ratto Group, which is up for sale to a San Francisco company.

For many communities, the garbage contracts are among the most lucrative deals they hand out.

In Windsor, the deal is worth more than $56 million in revenue over 10 years to the company that came out on top Wednesday night.

The Town Council voted 4-1 to award the contract to a different hauler, Sonoma County Resource Recovery, owned by the San Rafael-based Garden City Group, Marin Sanitary Service Group and its president, Kevin Walbridge.

The decision dealt another rejection to the town’s current hauler, Windsor Refuse and Recycling — co-owned by the Ratto Group — which recently sued the town and claimed the bidding process was unfair.

Read more at: Windsor chooses new garbage company, rejecting its current hauler | The Press Democrat

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After reversal, Windsor awards garbage contract to Green Waste, its first choice

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The high stakes question about which company would get Windsor’s garbage contract was finally settled Tuesday with the award going again to Green Waste Recovery Inc.

The 3-1 vote came a month after the Town Council first awarded, then rescinded a contract with the San Jose-based company because of political and legal hurdles associated with its proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station.

The final answer Tuesday was to fall back on its first decision after company representatives said they were looking to locate a transfer station closer to Windsor.“

We will not be proposing a transfer facility in Petaluma,” company spokeswoman Emily Finn said. An announcement about a new location is expected within weeks, she said. “On Day 1 we will have facilities north of Petaluma for recyclables.”

The prospect of garbage trucks on Highway 101 making a long trek from Windsor to San Jose — a distance of more than 100 miles — was one of the concerns raised by Councilman Dominic Foppoli, the lone vote against a contract with Green Waste.

But the lower residential rates and environmental practices of Green Waste earned it majority support.

Read more at: After reversal, Windsor awards garbage contract to Green Waste, its first choice | The Press Democrat

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Windsor to reconsider the town’s $52 million garbage contract 

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Just when it seemed Windsor had a new garbage hauling company for the next 10 years, the Town Council has had a change of heart, upending a multimillion dollar deal it struck last month over one of the town’s most basic municipal functions.

The move reflects political and legal hurdles facing a proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station proposed by the new operator and comes as Santa Rosa weighs its options for a new garbage contract, one of the most lucrative services that local cities outsource.

The Windsor Council on Tuesday night voted 4-1 to reconsider the contract it awarded to Green Waste Recovery Inc., citing unresolved issues over the company’s proposed Petaluma transfer station, including its proximity to residences.

As a result, four other companies that initially bid for the contract will have another shot at hauling Windsor’s commercial and residential refuse and reaping at least $52 million in revenue over 10 years.

Read more at: Windsor to reconsider the town’s $52 million garbage contract | The Press Democrat