SAN FRANCISCO: Today GLIDE Memorial Church on Ellis Street received a unique donation – a Recology truckload of fresh, organic produce grown with compost made from food scraps and plant cuttings collected in the City. Recology is San Francisco’s recycling and compost collection company.
“We are pleased to help kick off the Season of Sharing with this donation of healthy, organic food to GLIDE, which provides critical assistance to the needy in our community. We encourage everyone to take steps to help those less fortunate then ourselves,” said Mark Arsenault, San Francisco Group Manager for Recology. “Also we encourage residents and businesses, such as restaurants, to compost all food scraps especially during the holidays, the biggest food weeks of the year.”
(Photos courtesy of Supervisor Jane Kim)
Janice Mirikitani, Founding President of the GLIDE Foundation, said “We are thankful to Recology, not only for this wonderful bounty of fresh, organic produce that will help nourish souls this Thanksgiving, but for encouraging folks to get involved and help others in need this holiday season. We hope San Francisco residents will be reminded to be responsible beyond themselves and care for their communities and do what they can to help those in need and be inspired in their daily actions and activities.”
Supervisor Jane Kim said “I am pleased to help raise awareness of the need for donations of food and money to GLIDE and other care providers in the Tenderloin. Because of the hard work done by of organizations like GLIDE our homeless and poor citizens can receive something many of us take for granted, a hot meal served with a warm smile by people who care.”
The produce donated today includes cases of: butternut squash, collard greens, cabbage, kale, and sweet potatoes. The locally-sourced vegetables were grown at EatWell Farm located in Dixon. For 10 years EatWell has applied compost made from food scraps and plants collected in San Francisco’s urban compost collection program.
A 30-year study from the Rodale Institute, the nation’s oldest agriculture institute, shows that farms that apply compost achieve higher yields in years of drought compared to those using synthetic fertilizers. Therefore composting more of our food scraps and applying the compost to farms presents a way to grow additional food to help feed all people.
This year the employee-owners at Recology constructed gardens at the compost facilities the company operates, and grew more than 1,900 pounds of produce. They donated that harvest to local food banks. We hope to double that amount in 2015 and encourage other cities and universities that are replicating San Francisco’s compost collection program to do the same.
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The last few months proved to be significant for California’s environmentalists and waste & recycling industry alike. In addition to signing SB 270, the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1826 (Chesbro), requiring commercial businesses to begin recycling organics.
According to Assembly Bill 1826, organics include “food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste.” By spring 2016, restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial food and yard waste producers generating at least 8 cubic yards of organics per week will be required to separate their organics and properly send the materials to an organics processing facility.
Most notably, the move towards large-scale organics recycling will reduce the amount of food scraps and yard waste headed to landfills, and increase materials headed for anaerobic digestion and composting facilities. The influx of organic materials to processing facilities will be converted to renewable energy through anaerobic digestion, or composted for use on local farms.
By signing AB 1826…Governor Brown ensured that all of California shares in the environmental, agricultural, and economic benefits of organics recycling with reduced local emissions of greenhouse gases, new jobs and valuable compost for our farms and vineyards – Mike Sangiacomo, President & CEO, Recology
Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro adds, “Landfilled food and other organic materials produce methane, a major contributor to climate change,” Chesbro said. “Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps 21 times more heat than carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas created by the burning of fossil fuels.”
Rural areas, however, are exempt: “‘Rural jurisdiction’ means a jurisdiction that is located entirely within one or more rural counties, or a regional agency comprised of jurisdictions that are located within one or more rural counties…’Rural county’ means a county that has a total population of less than 70,000 persons.”
Commercial organics recycling is a step forward in terms of increasing the State’s diversion percentages and reducing landfill tonnages. The end goal, however, will always be to return resources and nutrients back to the environment where they originated. We think it will help accomplish all of these goals.
As employee owners, we aim to serve the communities in which we work and live by giving back with more than just our excellent services. Employees at our organics facilities fight hunger locally by maintaining community gardens at many of our organics facilities, including Jepson Prairie Organics, Recology Grover, Nature’s Needs and Recology Northwest Greenlands in McMinnville and Aumsville, Oregon. The wide variety of crops cultivated, from squash and potatoes to eggs and okra, are all donated to local nonprofit organizations, such as food banks and senior centers.
The community gardens use Recology compost as amendment to grow organic veggies and fruit; the same compost that is made from food scraps and yard trimmings, collected from residents and businesses in the areas we serve. This year, our dedicated Recologists grew over 16,900 pounds of produce, with further harvesting expected in the next few weeks!
We’ve seen how the “eat local” movement has gained a lot of attention recently. Local farmers’ markets and family farms are plentiful in and around the Bay Area, yet many people may not understand what it means to eat locally, or why it’s even important.
Generally, local food is defined as food that has traveled less than 400 miles from producer to consumer. Less travel time means a significant reduction in transportation costs and environmental impact. Eating locally not only has a direct impact on reducing energy use and global climate change, but it supports local economies and has a positive impact on local communities.
A few interesting facts about food consumption in the United States:
Did you know…much of the food purchased in grocery stores today is often imported from other countries?
Did you know…the average American meal contains ingredients imported from five different countries?
Did you know…the transportation of our food translates to massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, a leading greenhouse gas and major contributor to climate change?
Did you know…the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables in California by airplane resulted in 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of 12,000 cars on the road?
Buying, fresh, healthy foods from local farmers, fisherman, and ranchers, helps support our local economy, reduces carbon emissions, and best of all – it tastes delicious! Below are some links to local resources that offer an abundance of fresh and natural foods. Bon Appétit!
Below are a few resources for San Mateo County residents and businesses to purachse locally grown food:
On Saturday, July 19, 2014, 200 Recology and community partners made a tremendous improvement to Little Hollywood Park in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood.
We selected this project not only to beautify the neighborhood park in close proximity to our Recology San Francisco transfer station, but to share our Recology spirit in memory of our late colleague, John Legnitto.
With the help of volunteers, we accomplished the following:
- Weeded and removed invasive wild blackberry and Algerian ivy located adjacent to the Recology property line
along a 100 yard fence on the upper park level.
- Planted over 100 native drought tolerant plants supplied by SFRPD using 30 cubic feet of Recology potting mix for 10 cement planter
boxes and surrounding hillside.
- Spread 60 cubic yards of Recology arbor mulch produced by Recology Grover Environmental Products in selected areas throughout the 1.3 acre park.
- Power washed, prepped and painted 10 wooden picnic tables, 18 wooden park benches, 15 cement trash receptacles, 10 cement planter boxes, a wooden swing structure, a multi-level staircase, railing and retaining walls using tools from Recology CleanScapes and paint supplied by SFRPD.
All work was done in preparation for the park renovation that will take place in October 2014. Together, our efforts for one day totaled 800 hours of service, which amounts to an in-kind donation of over $20,000 to the SFRPD.
Thank you for making our joint project with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) a success!
We first turned our attention to food waste in 1996 when Recology implemented a food scraps collection program in San Francisco. Still in use today, the green bin program ensures that organic material, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, do not end up in landfills. Many other Recology companies and cities have implemented similar programs, including San Mateo County and San Bruno. You can learn more about the affects of landfilling organics here: US Composting Council – Keeping Organics out of Landfills.
Although we think it’s important to recycle food scraps when possible, we think it’s just as important to consider ways to reduce food waste altogether.
Americans throw away 40% of their food, according to The National Resources Defense Council.
The environmental impact of wasted food is fairly large. Imagine the amount of energy, oil, and water is used to produce and transport food across the United States, from farms to cities, and from cities to rural areas.
By preventing food from even entering a bin, we significantly reduce financial and environmental impacts. Here are a few small, but impactful tips for reducing your food waste.
- Plan your meals, buy what you need – There’s a fine line between purchasing enough food and buying too much. Planning your meals for the week will help you stick to a plan, meaning you’re less likely to toss expired food.
- Learn more about expiration dates – Foods that are edible after the marked expiration date is surprising. The use-by dates don’t always indicate spoiled food, but then again it’s good to know which foods are more sensitive to these dates than others.
- Freeze unused food – Utilize your freezer. If you’re unable to finish the pot pie you made last night, freeze portions for quick lunches and dinners.
- Take your lunch or share your leftovers– Using leftovers for meals at work is the best way to use excess food. Pack leftovers in your kids’ lunch, or share with coworkers, family, or friends if you know you’re not going to finish it.
- Proper storage – Learn how to store fruit and vegetables. It’s important to keep pre-cut and chopped produce in the refrigerator in sealed containers.
In honor of International Compost Awareness Week (May 5 – 11), an initiative created by the US Composting Council, we’re sharing our thoughts on this years focus: “Compost: The Solution to Sustainable Soil and Water.”
The traditional reasons to participate in a curbside compost program are to keep materials out of landfills and to return nutrients, in the form of compost, to local farms and vineyards. Those nutrients give farmers a viable alternative to using synthetic fertilizers and help farmers grow healthy food that comes back to the city to support our good health.
But there is a third great reason to compost: It helps California, our home state, save water – tremendous amounts of water.
Compost is 50 percent humus by weight. Humus is organic matter that helps soil retain moisture. Humus is a form of carbon; it both attracts and holds water. When we apply compost to an orchard, farm, or vineyard, we increase the amount of humus in the farm’s soil, and thereby increase the capacity of the soil to withstand drought conditions.
Farmers like to apply compost because doing so helps their soil and their crops get the full benefit of any rain or irrigation. This is particularly important for orchards, which require a lot of irrigation.
Here is a key statistic: If we increase organic matter by one percent on one acre of land by adding compost and by farming environmentally, we can save 16,500 gallons of water per year. Imagine how much water we could save if every city in California participated in a compost collection programs, sending a lot more compost to local farms.
Knowing that composting is a highly effective way to help California save water, many Recology employee-owners have an increased motive to participate in Recology’s green-bin programs. We are doing a good job of composting scraps and plant cuttings in many areas like San Francisco, but we can do much better. What can an individual do on a daily basis to help? Place all food scraps and plant cuttings in the green bin for curbside collection. Also, we can place all food-soiled paper, things like used paper napkins and towels, in the green bin (soiled paper has short fibers – microorganisms in compost like short paper fibers). Soiled paper in a kitchen compost pail or curbside compost bin will also absorb moisture, which will help control odor.
Recology set the trend when we started an urban compost collection program in San Francisco in 1996 to reduce landfill disposal and turn food scraps into compost. Now we can help our state save great amounts of water by extending our good green habit and composting all of our scraps, plant cuttings, and soiled paper.
Recology compost programs are designed to return nutrients back to our soils, and essentially back to our dining tables. Composting turns food scraps and yard trimmings into useful materials; the best and highest use of natural resources.
- Compost is a viable alternative to chemical fertilizers because it adds many nutrients to soil and doesn’t pollute groundwater, wells, or waterways.
- Composting keeps organic waste out of landfills, which supports more efficient land use and reduces methane gas emissions, a greenhouse gas.
- Compost sequesters carbon deep in the soil, which helps maintain essential nutrients in soil. This is especially useful when compost is used to grow cover crops, like mustard or beans.
- Compost promotes healthy microbial activity in soil, which makes micronutrients available to plant roots and discourages soil diseases.
- Compost improves soil structure, thereby protecting topsoil from erosion.
- Soils fed with compost retain far more rainwater, conserving our water resources.
- Compost helps grow plants and food crops that are rich with nutrients needed to sustain good health.
- Composting is easy and fulfilling!
- Compost collection programs return nutrients to local farms and support green jobs.
- Farms that utilize compost achieve higher yields than conventional farming that uses nitrogen fertilizers. This means farms produce more organic fruits and vegetables to support your good health.
- Composting reverses the course of waste from decay to new growth, turning coffee grounds, cantaloupe skins, and chicken bones into sweet carrots, juicy tomatoes, and fine wines.
- Composting helps our cities get closer to achieving zero waste.
- Composting helps California save tremendous amounts of water.
Guest blogger, Chris Choate, VP of Sustainability at Recology, leads us through the dynamic world of creating biofuels.
Recology is driven to find the social, environmental, and economical solution to power our fleet of vehicles with fuel produced from the residual resources (waste material) from your trash. We’ve spent a lot of time evaluating and researching ways to generate and utilize bio-methane from our landfills and anaerobic digesters to power our trucks.
Our solution has proved to be a good one thus far. We’ve found a way to integrate biofuels into our fleet fuel sources by transitioning to alternative fuel equipment and utilizing compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and B20 biodiesel.
Recology continues to partner with the City of San Francisco in an effort to lead the nation in diverting material from landfills to achieve the highest use of all materials. Over 80% of the material diverted is collected through an integrated system of reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting. Even with all of these collection processes, over half of the current material going to the landfill is degradable and a good source of biomass material.
Recology is fortunate to have these alternative fuels accessible to us through our collection, recycling, and compost facilities. We not only rely on our recycling efforts to divert and reuse materials, but we rely on the nature of biology to also help our goals of zero waste.
SF Environment created the City’s Zero Waste Plan from our overarching environmental principles that include:
- Reusing materials at a level that is their next best and highest use
- Avoiding high-temperature conversion (incineration)
- Achieving the highest carbon footprint reduction possible
- Employing local and biological processes that mimic nature
Currently, biological processes are used, managed, and exploited to stabilize thousands of tons of organic material a year through our compost programs. It is consistent with Recology’s sustainability goals, and the City’s overarching principles, to further utilize natural processes to produce biodiesel from the City’s waste stream.