Recology

13 Compelling Reasons to Compost

Posted in Community, Composting, Diversion, Recology, Recycling, Resource Recovery, Waste Reduction, WASTE ZERO by erinatrecology on April 7, 2014

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. 
Recology Compost

  1. Compost is a viable alternative to chemical fertilizers because it adds many nutrients to soil and doesn’t pollute groundwater, wells, or waterways.
  2. Composting keeps organic waste out of landfills, which supports more efficient land use and reduces methane gas emissions, a greenhouse gas.
  3. 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.
  4. Compost promotes healthy microbial activity in soil, which makes micronutrients available to plant roots and discourages soil diseases.
  5. Compost improves soil structure, thereby protecting topsoil from erosion.
  6. Soils fed with compost retain far more rainwater, conserving our water resources.
  7. Compost helps grow plants and food crops that are rich with nutrients needed to sustain good health.
  8. Composting is easy and fulfilling!
  9. Compost collection programs return nutrients to local farms and support green jobs.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Composting helps our cities get closer to achieving zero waste.
  13. Composting helps California save tremendous amounts of water.

Turning Municipal Waste into Energy: Recology Runs on Alternative Fuel

Guest blogger, Chris Choate, VP of Sustainability at Recology, leads us through the dynamic world of creating biofuels.

Recology BiodieselRecology 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.

Upcoming Artist in Residence Program Exhibition at Recology San Francisco

Posted in Community, Diversion, Events, San Francisco, You Should Know... by art at the dump on January 6, 2014

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Yulia Pinkusevich, Stephanie Syjuco, and student artist Brittany Watkins on Friday, January 24, from 5-9pm and Saturday, January 25, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, January 28, from 5-7pm. An artist panel discussion will follow at 7pm at 401 Tunnel Avenue. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.


Yulia Pinkusevich: The Glory of a Tool is Seldom Judged by Its Handle

An important part of Yulia Pinkusevich’s practice involves the creation of large-scale monochromic paintings and drawings, often made directly on walls that engage with architecture and play with spatial perception. While at Recology she has continued this practice, but has also “drawn” with the duality of light and shadow, constructing projection boxes that contain objects that cast images on the walls of the studio’s back room. The results are visually complex cityscapes—large darkened outlines of high-rises and other familiar urban forms. While it is obvious this is a city, exactly what city this might be is less clear, as the architecture seems a cross between the futuristic and the familiar. It is no wonder that these forms are a bit enigmatic; they are created using capacitors and heat sinks pulled from common electronic devises—devices we interact with every day, but whose working components are far less familiar.

Pinkusevich examines the role of architecture in our daily lives and how it frames, transects, and obscures the world around us, affecting our spatial perception and cognitive understanding. Her use of components from computers and televisions—technologies that also shape our perception of the world—is an apt metaphor. Her work also addresses broader issues related to global urbanization and labor. The fabrication of electronics and other consumer goods increasingly has societal and environmental consequences when formerly rural areas become sites of rapidly built factories and worker housing. The long-term impact this instant architecture will have is only beginning to be understood. Pinkusevich’s working process also provided a more direct connection to labor. She discovered that there was a specific order to disassembling the electronics and realized that she was actually reversing the process of the people who put these components together. Other sculptural works speak to this more personal view of labor and tie what is built to the anonymous builders, people whose labor—whether used for the construction of an apartment block or a pair of jeans—is increasingly taken for granted along with the resources used to fuel our disposable lifestyles.

Born and raised in the Ukraine, Pinkusevich holds a BFA from Rutgers University and an MFA from Stanford University. She has been the recipient of a Headlands Center for the Arts Graduate Fellowship in Sausalito, a Cite Des Arts International Studio Residency in Paris, and a Helen Wurlitzer Foundation Residency Grant in Taos, New Mexico. She has exhibited primarily in San Francisco, New York and Santa Fe and her work is in the collection of Google, Inc. and the city of Albuquerque.


Stephanie Syjuco: Modern Ruins (Popular Cannibals)

For Modern Ruins (Popular Cannibals), Stephanie Syjuco takes beloved archetypes of modernist furniture and reproduces them dump-style to explore a range of ideas related to production, consumption, class, and economies. Continuing her investigation of copies and counterfeits, her George Nelson tables and Verner Panton lamps speak to how today’s reproductions are generations removed from their furniture forbearers. These iconic objects have been knocked-off or borrowed from so often that many people may think they originated at Ikea or Crate and Barrel. By exploring these forms, questions arise as to the original intent behind the designs and their meaning in today’s world where the clean lines of modern furniture often serve as signifiers of an affluent, idealized lifestyle.

Using what she describes as a “shanty-like” aesthetic, Syjuco’s reproductions are certainly not meant to fool anyone or be functional. Instead, they bring the sleek, modern ideal into collision with the scavenged and cobbled-together through the immediate use of materials in rudimentary constructions. The works speak to the shoddy materials and cheap labor used to produce affordable contemporary modern furniture, and like the remnants of a dying civilization, suggest societal and environmental collapse. Calling on her own memories of the Philippines where International Style buildings stood alongside slums and shanties, Syjuco’s work also references Modernism’s long and complicated relationship to developing countries—how decades ago these new urban spaces adapted and formed their own versions of Modernist architecture which in many cases are now dilapidated signs of the promise of utopian progress.

Syjuco is an assistant professor in Sculpture at the University of California at Berkeley. Her work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. She received an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and has exhibited internationally including at venues in Paris, Manila, Berlin, and Bangkok. She is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.

"/
Brittany Watkins: The Time Objects Tell
During her residency, Brittany Watkins has collected objects such as window blinds, wire and inner tubes, and has shredded, knotted, woven and bent them to create abstract sculptural works. By dramatically altering their forms, Watkins has liberated these common items from their intended uses and explores their hidden potential. Watkins’ repetitive and time-intensive working process provides intimacy with the materials, and the resulting sculptures speak to connections between the inanimate and the animate. Suggestive of natural or biological forms, her works may also prompt viewers to assign more personal, human qualities to these objects.

For her exhibition, Watkins will present a large-scale sculpture as the centerpiece of an installation that will include other smaller, related works. Designed to be entered, this central piece will enable viewers to step inside, be engulfed by the materials, and have the same sort of personal experience with them that the artist did when making the work. Those that enter will also be confronted with their own physicality within a space that itself references the body. The other small pieces that compose this sculptural ecosystem serve to illustrate the versatility and mutability of the materials. They are grounded, but also loop, drape, and expand out, adapting as required to unseen forces.

Watkins is a graduate student at the California College of the Arts. She received her BFA from Montana State University with an emphasis in sculpture. She has exhibited at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle, the International Sculpture Center Temporary Space in Chicago, and the IEI Austin Gallery in Texas. Her work was published in the October 2011 issue of International Sculpture.


About the Recology Artist in Residence Program

Since 1990, the Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco has encouraged the conservation of natural resources while instilling a greater appreciation for art and the environment in children and adults. This one-of-a-kind program enables artists to work in studio space on site for four months, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public about reuse and their residency experiences. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.

When:
Reception- Friday, January 24, 2014, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, January 25, 2014, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 5-7pm
Artist panel discussion- Tuesday, January 28, 7pm

Where: Art Studio located at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave., San Francisco, CA

Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible. http://www.recologysf.com/AIR

Upcoming Artist in Residence Program Exhibition at Recology San Francisco

Posted in Diversion, Events, San Francisco, You Should Know... by art at the dump on September 5, 2013

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Kristin Cammermeyer and Chad Hasegawa, and visiting artists Claudel Casseus, Romel Jean Pierre, and Racine Polycarpe on Friday, September 20, from 5-9pm and Saturday, September 21, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, September 24, from 5-7pm. An artist panel discussion will follow at 7pm at 401 Tunnel Avenue. This exhibition will be the culmination of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.

Kristin Cammermeyer: DOUBLE HOW in & out the Back Room

When first looking at Kristin Cammermeyer ’s large-scale installation in the backroom of the Recology Art Studio, one might not immediately see a connection to her background as a painter. But it soon becomes apparent that she manipulates line, color, and perspective to alter perception, much as a painter does to convey three-dimensionality in 2-D. Cammermeyer uses these effects to create a sense of disorientation, which she likens to the surreal environment of the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, where she scavenged for materials. Viewers can succumb to the manipulation of lights, mirrors, and other objects placed in groupings throughout the space that appear like abstract still-lifes, framed by the lumber that is the infrastructure for the installation. Though carefully composed by the artist, the arrangements speak to the random meeting of materials at the Recology site which Cammermeyer has described as, “the arbitrary, yet seemingly composed moments that can occur at the fringes…instances of incidental formalism that suggest a collective consciousness and elegant design in a seemingly haphazard world.”

Site-specific in nature, Cammermeyer’s installation mirrors the framework and trusses of the building’s architecture which she sees as another found material with which to work. Cammermeyer has placed raw materials at the top of the installation, with the materials becoming more refined as they move down through the piece, drawing connections between the artistic process, the dump, and human digestion, in their shared processing of materials through labor. The constant movement of materials at the Recology facility is mimicked in the life-cycle of the installation, documented in her time-lapse video. The video provides a flattened, framed format through which one can experience the changing work. The precision of her construction and the vision behind it becomes even more apparent in this context as lines, shapes, and objects strategically envelop the video screen. Cammermeyer will also embed small mixed-media pieces within the installation and is working on a series of owl boxes for the sculpture garden.

Chad Hasegawa: Os Pukas

A constant in Chad Hasegawa’s paintings, sculptures, and murals is his iconic grizzly bear. Traditionally symbolic of strength and courage, in Hasegawa’s works the bear’s meaning is expanded to personify a range of qualities. Sometimes self-referential and sometimes representing the artist’s family or friends, Hasegawa’s bears offer the opportunity for anyone to see themselves in his depictions of strength, protectiveness, vulnerability, solitariness, and fierceness. During his residency, Hasegawa’s grizzly bear has explored the terrain of the dump. Paintings, sculpture, and an installation by Hasegawa position the bear as scavenger and survivor trying to make a home amidst the cast-off debris, and speak to the collision of nature and civilization. By positioning the bear at the dump, associations can be made regarding how our trash ultimately impacts the natural environment and the animals who reside there, but Hasegawa’s work speaks more broadly to ideas of the human/animal relationship. His bears inspire a sense of reverence, and suggest a more mystical or unexplainable connection between us and our animal counterparts. Says Hasegawa, “…bears are highly respected in many cultures and are considered to be ancestral spirits. Each of my bear paintings is created with the intent of being a protector; personally for myself and for everyone that may come across my work.”

In a large-scale installation, Hasegawa has crafted a cave from corrugated sheet metal, wood, and other found objects. By calling the work “Os Pukas,” Hasegawa has combined Portuguese and Hawaiian, using the word puka, or hole, to reference both a habitable space and the artist’s Hawaiian roots. Visually connected to shanty towns, such as the favelas of Brazil, the installation is both a bear’s den and a symbol of global struggles to find shelter and security. The work speaks to the fundamental need for habitable spaces, connecting us in the most primal of ways to the animal world. In addition to the installation, paintings, and sculptural works, Hasegawa will also paint a mural outside the Household Hazardous Waste Facility.

"/

Port-au-Prince to San Francisco: Work by Claudel Casseus, Romel Jean Pierre, and Racine Polycarpe

Beginning in mid-August the Recology Artist in Residence Program will welcome Claudel Casseus, Romel Jean Pierre, and Racine Polycarpe to the San Francisco Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center. The artists live and work in Grand Rue, Port-au-Prince, Haiti and are part of Atis-Rezistans, an artist collective whose members use recycled materials to create assemblage art. Their mini-residency at Recology is sponsored by Project HOPE Art, a local non-profit. This will be the first time artists from outside the Bay Area have participated in Recology’s residency program.

Claudel Casseus
Claudel Casseus was born in 1981 in Grand Rue, Port-au-Prince, a neighborhood with a strong art and creative community. From a young age Casseus made art and in 2008, he joined Atis-Rezistans. In 2009, he participated in the 1st Ghetto Biennial, an international arts festival organized by Atis-Rezistans and British artist/curator Leah Gordon. During the Biennale, Casseus met British artist Bill Drummond, and after the 2010 Haitian earthquake he collaborated with Drummond on Imajine, a book describing his experiences following the disaster. Casseus’s sculptures, informed by Vodou and made from recycled materials, have been included in many exhibitions. This will be Casseus’s first trip outside of Haiti.

“I grew up in a large ghetto in Port-au-Prince, a place that has a lot of trash around. I take advantage of this situation by creating artwork with the same garbage found in the community. I think this is a way to educate people who live in the area, to make people understand that it is not necessary to keep throwing trash in the street. Because with art, any number of things can be created. Definitely, art is a means of communication with everyone, regardless of social differences. Art can help a person to manage the frustration inside him and it enables you to say what you feel is happening in the world, whether positive or negative. Therefore, I think a person who chooses to make art is a person who wants to collaborate with the world.”

Romel Jean Pierre
Growing up in Port-au-Prince, where he was born in 1993, Romel Jean Pierre initially was interested in becoming a politician, but turned his focus to art when he attended the 1st Ghetto Biennale. He joined the youth division of Atis-Rezistans, called Timoun Rezistans, and began creating the video performance/citizen media series, Tele Ghetto Haiti. For the 2nd Ghetto Biennale he collaborated with Bay Area artist and writer Robert Gomez on Dreams/Rèv Ou, a video project in which Haitians speak about their hopes for the future. Romel’s works have been exhibited widely. In 2011 he was a visiting artist at Bates College in Maine, and in April, 2013 he attended the Tribecca Film Festival in New York where he participated in a panel discussion on Inside Out-The People’s Art Project, a documentary film about the French artist JR who worked with Romel in Haiti. Tele Ghetto video works can be seen on Facebook and Youtube. Romel will head the new photography program at the Project HOPE Art Center located at Haiti Communitere, in Port-au-Prince. The Art Center is housed in a converted 20-foot shipping container.

“The Rezistans movement means many things to me, because when I wasn’t part of it, I knew I would spend each day not doing anything and that knowing life would pass me by as I joked around, not going to school and losing all good chances in my life…”

Racine Polycarpe
In 2006 at the age of fifteen, Racine Polycarpe was adopted by his uncle, the well-known artist, Jean Hérard Celeur. He worked as an apprentice at his uncle’s school, the Realm of the Arts and Minds, in Grand Rue, Port-au-Prince, where he learned about contemporary art history, the skills of carving wood and rubber, and how to create sculptural works from found objects. Polycarpe is also a member of Atis-Rezistans, which was founded by his uncle. His work has been exhibited in Haiti at the Institut Francais (2009), the Fet Gede at the National Cemetery (2009), the 1st and 2nd Ghetto Biennales (2009, 2011), and Nouvo Rezistans at the Institut Francais (2011). In 2010 his work was exhibited at the Portman Gallery in London, and at the XISM Etnografiska Museet in Stockholm. This will be his first trip outside of Haiti.

“I make sculpture out of recycled materials such as wood, plastic, metal, rubber, and anything I find. I also make painted sculptures with carved rubber from old tires. The reason I use these materials as my medium is because, in my country, when people are finished using things they just throw them outside. As artists we see value in these things and turn them into art following the history of assemblage art. It is a transformative act to take these discarded objects off the street and turn them into art.”

About the Recology Artist in Residence Program

Since 1990, the Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco has encouraged the conservation of natural resources while instilling a greater appreciation for art and the environment in children and adults. This one-of-a-kind program enables artists to work in studio space on site for four months, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public about reuse and their residency experiences. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.

When:

Reception-Friday, September 20, 2013, 5-9pm

Reception-Saturday, September 21, 2013, 1-3pm

Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 5-7pm

Artist panel discussion-Tuesday, September 24, 7pm

Where:

Art Studio located at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave., San Francisco, CA

Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.
http://www.recology.com/AIR

Pretty Soon You Will Love to Compost

Posted in Composting, Diversion, Resource Recovery, Services, You Should Know... by ecotulip on July 8, 2013

Image

We’ve heard it before.

I don’t use the compost bin because it’s gross.

Using the green bin is just going to attract mice and flies. That’s why I don’t compost.

I don’t need to compost because I heard they’ll sort it later.

The reactions to the green composting bin when it’s first introduced to a community, or when someone moves into a community that’s composted for some time, are pretty predictable. The newcomers seem to go through a learning curve that begins with disgust and sometimes outrage, to understanding and adaptation, to a sense of purpose and empowerment.

It all takes a little bit of education. First, most people have to get their head around the basic concepts. What is organic? What can’t I put in the bin? Where does it go? How does my chicken bone become compost?

Eventually, they start to see how separating food scraps and yard trimmings from the garbage protects the air, water and soil. And then they start to think about what zero waste means.

I find myself caring in ways I’ve never cared before.

One example of a change of heart is Shideh Etaat’s “I Refused to Compost“.  In her article, she writes “the other day when I tucked my banana peel into my bag because there was no compost bin to be found on the street. It felt like a small triumph when I dumped it in my own not-too-gross green bin when I got home”.

Thanks for sharing your story Shideh!  We look forward to hearing more about how you’ve learned to compost. Share your stories with us on facebook and Twitter.

You can read more about Shideh’s experience at http://www.thebolditalic.com/shidehe/stories/2872-i-refused-to-compost.

If compost collection can make it in NYC, it can make it anywhere.

Congratulations Big Apple on Going Green!

Dozens of cities and hundreds of universities are following San Francisco’s lead and instituting urban compost collection programs. Most of these programs are located where one might expect to find them: Seattle, Portland, Maine, and University of California campuses. But not everyone expected New York City to come to the party. On June 16 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to expand and eventually require food scrap compost collection at locations across the city.

In discussing the plan, officials also signaled interest in the zero waste movement. “You want to get on a trajectory where you’re not sending anything to landfills,” Caswell F. Holloway IV, a deputy mayor, told The New York Times.

San Francisco aims to achieve zero waste by 2020, a goal set by the Board of Supervisors. The green bin program is a major contributor to San Francisco’s landfill diversion rate of 80 percent, the highest in the country.

Replicating the San Francisco program is just common sense. Food scraps collected from San Francisco are turned into nutrient-rich compost that is applied to local farms. Most of them are vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties. Compost made from food scraps collected in New York City could be applied to farms in upstate New York, farms that grow fruits and vegetables sold at the 19 farmers’ markets in the city.

There are many wonderful things about these programs. They keep things out of landfills and feed topsoil on local farms, which helps farmers grow healthier food. Urbanites like to shop at farmer’s markets and increasingly are hearing about the connection between tossing coffee grounds and vegetable peelings in their kitchen compost pails and the heirloom tomatoes and fresh carrots they buy on Saturday mornings.

Bloomberg’s announcement generated a lot of New York media coverage and press calls to San Francisco seeking reaction and insights. Reporters looking for opposing views among New Yorkers were mostly disappointed and within two days said “people like it.”

The Times reported that test compost collection programs in New York have shown an “unexpectedly high level of participation.” More than one headline read like this one: “Take it from a composting veteran, it is easier than you think.”

That perspective will feel correct to most people who live and work in San Francisco, experienced composters that we are. Some here are compost holdouts and need to get with the program, but in total we are getting our city a little closer to zero waste everyday. And in that context it was nice, at least for a few days, to read headlines like “New York City amps up food recycling, while San Francisco shows the way.”

Zero Waste for Earth Day

Go Zero Waste with Recology for Earth Day!

As part of our continued work to move the communities we serve closer to sending nothing to the landfill, Recology would like to invite people around the world to join us in going zero waste for Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd.

What does zero waste on Earth Day mean?

On Earth Day, many Recology staff will try to not sending anything to the landfill for one day – meaning only using and discarding items that are recyclable or compostable. Take your lunch in reusable containers instead of single use packaging, or only buy lunch in containers that are compostable and recyclable.

Document your experience.

As part of going Zero Waste for Earth Day, we’d like to hear about your experience in trying to send nothing to landfill for a day. Document your day with photos, videos, a blog post, or any other way you’d like! After Earth Day, we’ll compile all of the thoughts and media we received into a blog post, to be posted at blog.recology.com.

Some ideas for what to document:

  • What was difficult about going for zero waste?
  • What did you find yourself having to avoid that you normally would have taken or bought?
  • Did trying to go zero waste for a day change how you think about purchases, waste, or recycling?

Any and all thoughts and ideas are welcome – we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Compost collection is a good idea – 75 years in the making

Posted in Composting, Diversion, Recology by ecotulip on March 6, 2013

Guest Blogger Robert Reed is the public relations manager for the Recology operating companies in San Francisco. Robert lives in San Francisco with his daughter August and their Boston Terrier Peanut, a.k.a. Cacahuète. This article appeared in Waste & Recycling News as a Guest View on March 4, 2013.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­


It is just as easy to put your coffee grounds in a compost collection bin, if your city permits, as it is to throw them in the trash. This simple act benefits the environment in multiple ways, is literally changing our industry, and, most importantly, supports the good health of you and your family members.

I know a bit about nutrition, but I cannot name one food that offers 10 health benefits. Yet I can easily list 10 benefits achieved through composting. Here are just a few: Compost returns nutrients and carbon to the soil, gives farmers a viable alternative to using liquid (or chemical) fertilizers, retains rainwater allowing farms to reduce irrigation and energy usage, and softens soil so plant’ roots can travel further and reach more nutrients.

Compost, particularly compost made from food scraps, is rich in nutrients because it is made from a diverse feedstock. In San Francisco’s urban compost collection program that feedstock includes leftover takeout from Chinese restaurants, pasta from North Beach, and, yes, coffee grounds from the many coffee shops across the city.

Compost made from food scraps stimulates microbial activity, which brings new life to soil. To help people better understand why that is important we publish an ad showing an apple core falling into a compost collection (green) bin. The headline on the ad says “Feed the soil. It feeds us.”

Recology, San Francisco’s homegrown recycling company, started collecting food scraps for composting in 1996. The city instructed us to roll the program out citywide in 2001. Customer participation was voluntary. In 2009 the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring “all properties” to participate, and today Recology collects 600 tons of food scraps and plants a day for composting.

Many cities and hundreds of universities have added food scrap compost collection programs, and the movement, for the reasons stated above and others, is gaining great momentum. The Washington Post told the story within the story on Feb. 3rd in their report titled “Composting efforts gain traction across the United States.”

Writer Juliet Eilperlin reported:

Environmentally minded city leaders have adopted “zero-waste” pledges, noting that traditional trash disposal not only wastes material that can enrich soil but accelerates climate change. Organic matter decomposing in landfills accounts for 16.2 percent of the nation’s emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts are all phasing in bans on putting commercial food waste in landfills.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and really get after it. The EPA reports that Americans generate approximately 35 million tons of food scraps annually and of that total only 3 percent makes it back to the farm. The vast majority goes to landfills or incinerators.

Eilperlin insightfully noted these points: Major trash industry operators have sometimes fought government requirements to divert waste because they operate landfills. Many communities have contracts with waste incineration sites, making it harder to develop organic recycling sites. And the nation’s trash disposal system lacks the ability to process food waste on a large scale.

We need to permit more compost facilities and we need to utilize modern technology at those facilities. When we do that, more cities will be able to establish curbside compost collection programs and we will continue turning a negative (landfill emissions) into a positive (returning nutrients and carbon to local farms.)

Are people across the country really going to do this? On Feb. 13th, in his final state-of-the-city address, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, announced “This spring we’ll launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island for composting. If it succeeds, we’ll develop a plan to take it citywide.”

This represents a major shift.

Some of the best minds in American agriculture sounded a call, in a book published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking large cities to establish food scrap compost collection programs to send nutrients back to farms. When was the book published? 1938.

It has taken 75 years, but cities are responding, and people like it. We are becoming keenly aware of our environmental challenges. Composting at the curb gives us a way to participate in a program every day that makes a positive difference.

Waste engineers report that typically between 40% and 60% of the material cities send to landfill could instead be composted.

“Trashed,” a new film hosted by Jeremy Irons, visits landfills around the world, discusses nano ash that escapes from incinerators, and highlights San Francisco’s compost collection program.

In December “Trashed” received a lot of attention from the New York media, and Irons was asked “What can we do?” His response: “Find out where your garbage goes.”

That’s what the French call “une bonne idée” (a good idea.) Here’s another one: If you are not already doing it, start today. Compost.

Coats for Kids in San Bruno and San Mateo County

Posted in Diversion, Recology, Recycling, San Bruno, San Mateo County, You Should Know... by recologysanmateocounty on October 30, 2012

Donate Your Coats to Kids

It’s time for the annual coat drive throughout the city of San Bruno and San Mateo County.

San Bruno

All month, residents can drop off new and gently used coats—from infant to adult sizes—to donate to those in need of a warm coat during the cold weather season. Recology San Bruno has been holding the Coats for Kids drive all month. October 31st is the last day to participate. The drop-off locations for the coat drive are included on the map below.

The big coat giveaway in San Bruno will take place from 4-7 p.m. on November 15th at the National Guary Armory at 455 Third Ave. Each child is limited to one coat, and the children must be present to receive a coat. Learn more about the Recology San Bruno program here.

San Mateo County

From Monday, November 5th through Friday, November 9th, Recology San Mateo County drivers will collect coats curbside from residential homes on their collection day in Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos and San Mateo. Residents in the participating communities are asked to place coats in a clear plastic bag marked “Coats for Kids” and to then place the bag next to or on the top of their blue Recycle Cart on their regular collection day, during the week of November 5 to 9.

Collection containers labeled “Coats for Kids” will also be placed at various locations throughout participating cities noted above and the Recology San Mateo administrative office where residents can drop off coats. The drop off locations can be used by anyone interested in making a donation, even if their city is not participating in the program this year.

At the end of the drive, Recology will deliver all of the donated coats to local non-profit agencies for distribution to those in need. The Coats for Kids program is held annually by Recology and has hopes of having more communities participate each year. Below is a list of collection sites in San Mateo County.

SF hits 80% diversion on the road to zero waste

A National Record

This morning San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Lee announced that the city of San Francisco reached an 80% landfill waste diversion rate. The city holds the national recycling and compost rate record in North America. And that is no small feat. The city of St. Louis’ recycling rate increased fivefold this year, and that city now diverts just 10%.

We are especially proud. San Francisco’s programs include source reduction, reuse, and recycling and composting programs, which set the city apart from other major North American cities. These programs helped San Francisco receive a perfect score for resource recovery and recycling in the 2011 Siemens Green City Index.

In city’s press release says:

“Recycling and composting is not only good for our environment, it is also good for our economy,” said Mayor Lee. ”Recycling alone creates 10 times more jobs than simply sending refuse to the landfill, and I applaud Recology, the Department of Environment and San Franciscans for reaching this record milestone of 80 percent diversion.”

On the road to Zero Waste

 

The work is not easy or simple. While landfill disposal has decreased substantially, San Francisco residents, visitors and businesses still send 444 thousand tons of material to landfill each year.

Yet San Francisco is determined to achieve zero waste, not only an environmental, but also an economic goal.

David Chiu, a City Supervisor also supported our work and urged San Franciscans to do their part. He said, “I thank Recology and the Department of Environment staff who are reaching out and educating our residents and businesses to make sure they continue to recycle and compost our way to zero waste.” This weekend, all of the events taking place in the city include forward-thinking plans for recycling and composting.

You can read more of the press release here: http://www.sfmayor.org/index.aspx?page=846.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 211 other followers

%d bloggers like this: