Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Michael Arcega, Ma Li and Eden V. Evans
Since I started at Recology a few years ago, one of the most common questions I receive surrounds both the environmental and economic impact of recycling. It’s usually in some form of: “How could the environmental and financial costs of sorting, shipping and processing of recyclables be favorable to simply sending the material to the landfill?”
The answer to this question is based on the cost and environmental impact of recycling facility operations – sorting recyclables and shipping the material for processing so they can be reintroduced to the market. From a cost perspective, can these efforts and the resources used be advantageous to sending the material to the landfill? Yes, both financially and environmentally.
That said there are two important considerations that must be included in the discussion:
The first is evaluating the difference between producing new products from recycled versus virgin material. Recycling aluminum, for example, can reduce energy consumption by as much as 95%. Savings for other materials are lower, but still substantial: about 70% for plastics, 60% for steel, 40% for paper, and 30% for glass. (1) In all cases, the energy savings are significant and well worth the effort to recover them.
The second are externalities, which are the un-priced, outside benefits that recycling produces. These include decreased air pollution from mills and factories, less water contamination from landfills, and reduced resource consumption. All of which have a financial and environmental cost. The process for obtaining and processing virgin materials is not often associated with recycling. We all know that mining, drilling and logging are activities that are detrimental to the environment, but since we aren’t paying for them on our monthly garbage bill, these factors are oftentimes overlooked.
When we really delve into the economics of recycling, it’s easier to understand if we look at the big picture. The energy used to separate and process our recyclable material is offset by the amount of energy it would take to extract virgin materials and create new products. So, there is much more to consider than the cost we see on our garbage bills, and it also makes a lot of sense to think about our garbage as materials or commodities to be re-used in the future.
(1)” The truth about recycling“, The Economist, June 2007
“You’re sitting at our table,” says co-owner Rickey Martinez as I sit down with him, his wife Amanda, and Recology Waste Zero Specialist, Misty McKinney. The restaurant’s walls are filled with miscellaneous bric-a-brac and colorful aliens, so it isn’t surprising that the table has blended in. I look down and notice the table is filled with their photos, tickets, and other memorabilia you might find in a scrap book.
“We had a guest, he makes these. So if you look here, this is me when I was a long-haired hippie. This is our wedding invitation. We did a destination wedding in Hawaii. Pictures from our lives. A letter from Senator Harry Reid, welcoming me to the PR field when I was doing that a few years ago. We’ve had a fun ride. Neither of us thought we’d be restaurateurs.”
Amanda and Rickey begin telling me the story of how they came to open the new Redwood City Squeeze In. In Rickey’s family, restaurants became the stage for love, dreams, and community. In the 1950s, Rickey’s grandmother opened a restaurant in Upland, California called The Super. His aunts and uncles worked at The Super before and after school, and eventually it was where his mother met his father.
My mother waited on my dad,” he says, “And my dad left her a penny as tip because he thought the service was lacking. They didn’t know from one another until years later when they ended up working together at another restaurant. She mentioned The Super, so my dad said, ‘Oh yeah, I ate there once. The service was lousy; I left the waitress a penny.’ And she responded, ‘That was me! I was the waitress! How could you do that?’ My parents owned a restaurant when I was growing up. I guess it was only a matter of time before I did.
The first Squeeze In began by flipping omelettes in Truckee, California in 1974. The namesake came from how guests would have to squeeze in to sit at a table, since the restaurant was only a little over ten feet wide. At the time, Rickey’s Aunt Misty and Uncle Gary would drive up from Reno to eat at the original Squeeze In restaurant in 1979. When Aunt Misty and Uncle Gary first started thinking about owning a restaurant, they didn’t want just any restaurant, they wanted to own the Squeeze In. Aunt Misty had the opportunity to meet the owners of the Squeeze In, whom she told, “I love your place. If you sell it to anybody, you have to sell it to me.”
In 2003, Rickey’s Aunt Misty and Uncle Gary went all in on their dream. They quit their jobs and purchased the Squeeze In. In 2005, Rickey went up to Tahoe for his cousin Shila’s wedding, and he helped out at the restaurant for the week. “Low and behold,” says Rickey, “Amanda was working there at the same time. We met and fell in love.”
Love was also in the air for foodies, and in 2010 the Food Network approached the Squeeze In to do a special on restaurants that love their guests. To their surprise, Bobby Flay rolled up in a blizzard to challenge them to a Throwdown. The menu, which dates back to the 1970s, features dozens of items that are named after Truckee locals and family members. The Food Network helped them pare it back a bit, and the menu gained the addition of a newly inspired omelette, the Spanish Flay.
The restaurant began growing and opening new locations in 2008. “People used to drive from miles and miles around, and fly in for vacation every year and have to go to the Squeeze In. So that got the ball rolling,” explains Rickey. Last year, the yoga studio a couple doors down approached them about opening a new location in Redwood City. The momentum grew; it was clear the community wanted their own Squeeze In.
Amanda and Rickey Martinez went a step further when they opened their Redwood City location this month. When Waste Zero Specialist, Misty McKinney, contacted them to assist in implementing a new garbage and recycling program, they decided to give composting a try. “We thought,” Rickey reflected, “we need to minimize the waste.”
“It’s good for the environment,” joined Amanda.
“And it’s good for business,” agreed Rickey. “There was a learning curve the first couple of days. It’s only been a week, and we’ve got a firm grasp on it. So obviously it’s good for us because we aren’t paying as much for trash, but the bigger picture is we are reducing our carbon footprint on the world. When we go to sleep at night, we can rest knowing that we did our part. I think that if every other business continues to do their part, it will help out in the long run. We won’t have to have all these landfills. As much as you want to give us the credit, Recology have given us the tools and the assistance needed to make it as smooth a transition as it needed to be.”
The Redwood City Squeeze In’s official opening is March 30th. There will be a ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce at 2pm.
Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Kara Maria, Imin Yeh and Matthew Goldberg
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Kara Maria, Imin Yeh and student artist Matthew Goldberg on Friday, January 23, from 5-9pm and Saturday, January 24, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, January 27, from 5-7pm, with a gallery walk-through with the artists at 6:30pm. 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.
Kara Maria: A Trash Menagerie
Painter Kara Maria combines abstraction and representation to address subjects that range from the personal to the political. During her residency she has turned her focus to her immediate environment, making work in response to the Recology site. Using found stretched canvases, including amateur paintings and digitally printed, mass-produced artwork from Ikea, Maria has overpainted the works with recycled acrylic paint from the Household Hazardous Waste Program. The abstract portions of her paintings speak to the environment of the Recology facility, a constantly churning and tumultuous place whose frenetic nature is conveyed in Maria’s disjointed shapes and vibrant colors. The representational portions of her work reflect another aspect of the facility—the living creatures that inhabit or pass through the site. Interspersed within her paintings are detailed renderings of seagulls, raccoons, hawks, and other animals. …Read more
Imin Yeh: Goldbricking
Used in labor, “goldbricking” is a term that means pretending to be productive. Its origins are in trickery and the act of conning someone by painting a brick gold. Though it could hardly describe Yeh’s dedicated work ethic, its use suggests a wry joke about her studio practice which is characterized by labor-intensive and often repetitive processes. Yeh’s art has consistently explored issues of labor and production. While at Recology she has been struck by the volume of corporate waste, and has scavenged the detritus of businesses and offices. Trade show banners have been sliced up and coated with shades of white house paint, their marketing jargon still ever so slightly visible, alluding to the transient nature of their messages. From discarded hotel uniforms, Yeh has created a textile work of monochromatic, geometric forms. Slight variations in the shade and texture of the fabrics reflect the wear and laundering of each garment, and are suggestive of the individual experiences of each worker. …Read more
Matthew Goldberg: Space Trash, Boomerang!
What would happen if our trash was launched into space in a misguided attempt to rid the planet of waste, only to orbit and return to earth? This is the premise for the artwork Matthew Goldberg has made during his Recology residency. In sculpture, photography, collage, and installation, he explores trash as an extraterrestrial force—both familiar and foreign, from the past and seemingly also from the future. Says Goldberg, “The narrative is a fantasy—much like our perceptions of space and much like the general public’s perception of a ‘dump’ facility I have encountered when explaining this program.” Music is another outcome of his residency, which will be performed live by the appropriately named Sputnik (Goldberg and his brother) at the exhibition reception….Read more
About the Artist in Residence Program
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind program established in 1990 to encourage the conservation of natural resources and instill a greater appreciation for the environment and art in children and adults. Artists work for four months in studio space on site, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually, June through August.
Friday, January 23, 2015, 5-9pm
Saturday, January 24, 2015, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours–
Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 5-7pm with gallery walk-through with artists at 6:30pm
Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.
Art Studio at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave.
From Downtown San Francisco/East Bay-
Go south on Highway 101 and exit at “Candlestick Park/Tunnel Ave.” After the stop sign, continue straight on Beatty Rd. Turn right on Tunnel Ave.
From the Peninsula-
Go north on Highway 101 and exit at the first “Candlestick Park” off-ramp. Stay in the left lane and take the first left toward the stop sign. Turn left at the stop sign onto Alanna Way and go under the freeway. At the next stop sign, turn right on Beatty Rd. Turn right on Tunnel Ave.
The “T” Third St. streetcar and bus lines 9 and 9x stop at Bayshore Blvd. and Arleta Ave. (three blocks away). The Caltrain “Bayshore Station” stop is directly across the street from our facility.
Recology San Francisco is pleased to announce recipients of artist residencies for 2015. The six selected artists are Michael Arcega, Jeremiah Barber, Ma Li, Jenny Odell, Alison Pebworth, and Chris Sollars.
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind initiative started in 1990 to support Bay Area artists, while also teaching children and adults about recycling and resource conservation. Artists work for four months in a studio on site and use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.
|Jenny Odell and Chris Sollars
Residency: June-September; Exhibition reception: September 18 and 19, 2015
|Jeremiah Barber and Alison Pebworth
Residency: October-January; Exhibition reception: January 22 and 23, 2016
SF Apartment, August 2014
by Robert Reed
(View the original article here)
Making sure your tenants recycle and compost can seem overwhelming, but the benefits—to the planet and to your pocket—are well worth the effort.
Trash is not a glamorous subject. In fact, most of us do not give much thought to our discards. But since we literally depend on a healthy environment—clean air and water, and healthy soils that produce organic fruits and vegetables—for our very existence, it is important to learn new information about the benefits of recycling.
As San Franciscans, we have much more control over where our discards go than people in other cities do. When we toss something in a recycling, compost or trash bin, we decide whether individual items will get made into new products, become compost that is applied to local farms, or be transported to and buried in a landfill. We do not always remember that we have this power, but we do. When we learn that the typical American produces 4.5 pounds of garbage a day—about one ton of discards per year—we begin to understand the scope of this issue and its effect on the environment.
We recycle because we know recycling helps protect our planet. Recycling saves water, energy and other resources like trees, natural gas and oil. Recycling also avoids what environmentalists call “upstream impacts,” such as diesel emissions from heavy equipment used to mine virgin materials.
And here’s an economic bonus: recycling creates 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration. Across the nation and the world, many communities are waking up to the fact that recycling is a powerful job creator. If every city in America recycled 75% of its waste, we could create 1.5 million new, permanent, local jobs, according to a report called “Recycling Works!” produced by a coalition of environmental and labor groups. In California alone, if all cities recycled 75%, we could create 120,000 new jobs, according to a new study from the Natural Resource Defense Council. In many cases, these jobs would include health care and a pension.
In San Francisco, we created 200 new jobs in 10 years by increasing recycling. Many of these jobs are at Recycle Central, the large plant Recology operates on Pier 96 to sort blue bin materials, including bottles, cans and paper. Before we opened Recycle Central, many of these workers did not have jobs or had minimum-wage jobs. Now they earn $20 an hour.
Composting Is Key
In addition to supporting green jobs, recycling helps San Francisco make further progress toward achieving key environmental goals set by the city. The most significant goal, the one that gives San Francisco the opportunity to be a true environmental leader, is the goal to achieve zero waste by 2020. Zero waste means sending next to nothing to landfills. That is an ambitious goal. It may also be the most important environmental goal our city could have set.
Composting, for example, saves tremendous amounts of water. That’s because compost, by weight, is 50% humus, also known as nature’s sponge. Microorganisms in compost break the yard and food waste down into smaller and smaller pieces. When the microbes have done their jobs and the pieces can’t get any smaller, we have humus. It is carbon-based and both attracts and retains water.
Agronomists report that if we can increase the amount of organic matter on farmland by 1% by adding compost, we can save 16,000 to 18,000 gallons of water per year. There are 45 million people in California. Image how much water we could save if everyone composted their food scraps, plant cuttings and food-soiled paper like we do in San Francisco. This should be a key consideration and motivation, given the seriousness of the California drought.
Recology began collecting food scraps for composting in 1996. The rest of the garbage collection and recycling industry thought we were nuts. Now, hundreds of cities and more than 1,000 universities have replicated the program. And many more want to do the same.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that most of these cities do not have a place to take their food scraps for composting. That’s because U.S. cities and businesses have not built nearly enough composting facilities. San Francisco is fortunate in this regard. Recology established three compost facilities capable of taking food scraps and plant cuttings collected in the city. One is outside Vacaville, another is near Modesto and a third is at Pacheco Pass near Gilroy.
Where could our country build more compost facilities? One answer is: on top of landfills. Then, instead of putting materials inside landfills, we could move food scraps, plant cuttings and food-soiled paper to compost sites.
Farmers love compost because high-quality compost contains billions of microorganisms, tiny life forms too small to see with the human eye. This is important because the microbes break down the nutrients in compost into small pieces, so small that they can be picked up by plants’ roots. Agronomists call the work microbes do “microbial action.”
Recology operates its compost facilities as microbe farms. There are 11 stages to our composting process. Fundamentally, it works like this: transport trucks bring food scraps and plants collected in small trucks from all properties in San Francisco to the facilities. In 60 days, Recology transforms this feedstock into nutrient-rich compost that is applied to more than 300 local farms, orchards and vineyards.
For 13 years, Nigel Walker of Eatwell Farm has applied compost made from food scraps collected in San Francisco. Walker describes the microbial action achieved by applying compost to his farm as “stoking a fire” in the soil. We might think of it as new life working in the soil.
Farmers often have agronomists test the topsoil on their farms to find out what they need to put back to balance their soils. With this knowledge, Recology creates custom blends of compost for individual farms. We do this on blending pads at our compost facilities. We mix in soil amendments such as gypsum, lime, sandy loam, minerals and rice hulls. Using tractors called loaders we top load the finished compost into specialized transport trucks that deliver it to area farms. Farmers love this because the compost arrives ready to be applied.
Not only does compost give farmers a viable alternative to using synthetic or chemical fertilizers, compost helps farms achieve higher yields. Such are the findings of side-by-side field trials by agricultural organizations, including the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, the oldest agricultural institute in the United States.
Here is another great reason to compost: many local vineyards use compost to grow cover crops that pull carbon out of the air and sequester carbon in topsoil. These cover crops, such as mustard, fix carbon and nitrogen naturally in the soil. Paul Hepperly, professor emeritus at the Rodale Institute and a Fulbright scholar, believes that if every community followed this example we could offset more than 20% of carbon emissions. That estimate is the subject of much interest and further study.
Recology also brings compost back to San Francisco for residents to use in gardens and on outdoor plants. The annual Compost Giveaway, which we host each spring, is a bring-your-own-bucket event where we set up and staff four giveaway locations throughout the city. Residents bring empty five-gallon buckets and we fill them with a gourmet planting mix. Recology also provides compost to urban farms and community gardens in San Francisco through efforts coordinated by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Recycling Big and Small
We also recycle tremendous amounts of construction and demolition debris in San Francisco. Such debris comes from large construction and demolition projects, and from small contractors and individuals who bring materials to the transfer station at 501 Tunnel Ave. Recology maintains and staffs special recycling facilities and sorting lines at the transfer station for this purpose.
Large or bulky items are collected and recycled through the RecycleMyJunk program. Residents can also recycle textiles, such as old clothes, through this program—a new and popular service. Go to RecycleMyJunk.com for details. Working at the city’s direction, Recology has assigned several trucks and crews specifically to collect illegal dumping. This new program is working well, and our city is visibly cleaner.
Finally, while trash may not be a glamorous subject, it can be made into beautiful and unique art works. Recology’s Artist-in-Residence program continues to gain in popularity and renown. Last year, the program hosted a major exhibition at SFO. Pieces can be seen throughout the city in building entrances and other locations, including a three-acre sculpture garden at the transfer station. To learn about current and upcoming exhibitions go to Recologysf.com/AIR.
Increasing Recycling and Managing Collection Costs
In July 2013, the San Francisco Rate Board approved a rate order that changed the price structure for apartment buildings to encourage more recycling and composting. In August 2013, Recology, San Francisco’s recycling company, sent correspondence to apartment building owners and managers explaining the new structure and offering to help apartment buildings increase recycling and compost collection services and reduce disposal. By making these changes, apartment building owners and managers can help protect the environment and help manage their collection service costs.
In November 2013, Recology wrote, and SF Apartment Magazine published, a lengthy article titled, “Waste Not, Want Not” explaining the new rate structure. As a brief update and reminder, collection service charges now apply to all three collection bins: recycling, composting and trash. Importantly, the monthly rate charged to apartment buildings is discounted up to a maximum of 75% based on the building’s overall recycling rate. The rate board instituted this structure in support of the city’s goal of achieving zero waste by 2020.
To give apartment buildings time to increase recycling and composting and reduce disposal, the city instituted temporary caps limiting increases in monthly bills. Many buildings took advantage of this window to adjust their complement of bins and the frequency of collection service.
Under the Rate Order, the monthly service charge at all properties in San Francisco included a cost-of-living adjustment of 2.3%, effective July 1, 2014. Some buildings may see a larger increase due to either the elimination or reduction in their cap credit. These affected buildings received a personalized letter informing them of their new rates.
Apartment building owners and managers are encouraged to use the online apartment rate calculator Recology maintains at sfzerowasterates.com to see how potential changes in bin types, sizes and frequency of collection would affect your building’s monthly rate. You can also call us at 415-330-1300 and one of our apartment-house specialists will be glad to talk with you over the phone or set an appointment for a personal rate and service evaluation during the workshops we host specifically for apartment building customers.
Many apartment buildings are cleaning up and painting their trash rooms. Some buildings are improving lighting in recycling and compost bin locations. These steps make recycling areas more pleasant places, which helps encourage tenants to place their discards in the correct bins.
Additionally, Recology hosts a “property managers’ lounge” on its site, which provides owners and managers with numerous resources to encourage tenants to recycle and compost. The page is posted at recologysf.com/index.php/property-managers-lounge.
Recology San Mateo County (Recology) would like to congratulate this year’s BizSMART @ Work Award winners. Recology’s team thrives on working with the businesses and multi-family complexes to help them increase their diversion levels.
Recology works closely with customers by providing waste audits, cost savings analyses, internal recycling and compost containers, recycle buddy bags, posters, in addition to other outreach materials, and onsite trainings and presentations. With these tools, Recology’s Waste Zero Specialist can identify what technical assistance each customer needs to educate their staff and reduce waste going to the landfill.
Award categories include Recycle, Compost, and a combined Recycle and Compost. The winners for this year’s awards are as follows:
Diddams Party Store, San Carlos
Sand Cove Apartments, Foster City
300 Alpine Road LLC, West Bay Sanitary District
Bayshore Christian Ministries, East Palo Alto
Donato Enoteca, Redwood City
Milagros, Redwood City
Menlo Circus Club, Atherton
Oak Grove HOA/Manor, Menlo Park
Papillon Preschool, San Mateo
Promontory Point, Foster City
Recycling and Composting Category:
Abbott Vascular, Menlo Park
Back Yard Coffee Company, Redwood City
Catered Too, East Palo Alto
Embarcadero Capital Partners LLC, Belmont
Hassett Hardware, San Mateo
Impossible Foods, Inc., Redwood City
Kingston Café, San Mateo
The Plant Cafe, Burlingame
Rocket Fuel, Redwood City
Sweet Production, San Carlos
Villa Lucia’s Pizza, San Mateo County
The public also had a chance to select the 2014 Rethinker’s Choice Award by voting for their favorite nominees selected from the Recycle and Compost category winners through the RethinkWaste website. The winner of the 2014 Rethinkers’ Choice Award will be announced at the luncheon.
The nominees for the 2014 Rethinker’s Choice Award are:
Abbott Vascular, Redwood City
Back Yard Coffee Company, Redwood City
Embarcadero Capital Partners LLC, Belmont
Kingston Café, San Mateo
Sweet Production, San Carlos
Recology Western Oregon Partners with Local Veteran to Restore and Donate Thousands of Bicycles in Yamhill County
Three years ago, Dean Williams, a retired Vietnam Veteran from Amity, OR, noticed a few perfectly good bikes on a pile of scrap metal at a nearby waste facility. At the time, his granddaughter’s bike was recently stolen, so he went in to ask about purchasing one.
From that day on, Dean has been dedicated to refurbishing and donating bikes to local schools, probation departments, the Yamhill County Action Partnership (YCAP), police departments, church groups, and other local community organizations. Many of the donated bikes are the primary mode of transportation for recipients, members of the community who do not have access to a vehicle use the bikes to commute to work or school.
By early 2014, Dean’s project had become so successful, he’d run into a problem: his home’s driveway was full of salvaged parts, and he needed more tools and resources to continue his project.
Recology Western Oregon (RWO) decided to help. Dean’s project embraces RWO’s mission to achieve “Waste Zero” by finding a new life for previously discarded materials. It also provides a sustainable form of transportation for local children and families in need.
To help Dean’s project grow, RWO established a new Bike Shop at the RWO Valley Recovery Zone in McMinnville, OR. Dean has been provided with tools, storage space, and access to discarded bike parts at the facility. Even the shop’s benches and tables carry a message of sustainability – Dean salvaged lumber from RWO wood piles to build the work benches.
The shop is also serves as an education center where members of the community can learn basic bike maintenance and repair. Dean and RWO hope to educate the public on the importance of reuse and recycle, ensuring fewer resources end up in the scrap pile.
Dean has repaired and donated over 1,600 bikes as of May 2014, and with the help of RWO, his mission continues to expand. A box of bikes is currently being prepared for shipment to Africa, and Dean also plans to expand his collection efforts to other Recology operations along the Oregon Coast and Washington State.
Dean’s story began as one person’s passion to turn trash into treasure; today, it’s become a model reuse and recycle program. If you’d like more information or would like to get involved in the project, please stop by the “Bike Shop” at RWO’s Valley Recovery Zone, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Civicorps, a non-profit organization located in Oakland, offers job training and career counseling to participants of their Environmental Job Training Program.
William Montoya and Fua Fatai, clients of Oakland’s Civicorps, are learning the skills needed to recycle restaurant wastes.
The food waste they collect in Oakland, currently being composted – will soon go to the Eastbay Municipal Utilities District (MUD) Oakland sewage treatment plant.
“We realized that can recycle kind of these new urban wastes and do it in a way that provides us with renewable energy at the same time,” says Andrea Pook, Eastbay MUD Spokeswoman.
When those food scraps are digested, the methane gas that comes out of them goes into a turbine which can create enough power for 2500 homes.
“At the same time, we develop a product called bio-solid which is the digested solid material and that’s use for agricultural fertilizer as well as alternative cover at landfills,” said Jackie Kepke, Eastbay MUD’s Environmental Services Manager.
For Montoya and Fatai, it’s nothing less than life changing.
“I see this as a stepping stone, you know, and just opening up doors for me in the future. It’s exciting to know that I’m part of something big,” said Fatai.
“This program actually saved me from doing a lot of bad stuff. I focus on my future, my family, my son,” Montoya said.
Civicorps’ Bruce Groulx is proud of this program and these men.
“We take society’s waste, recycle it, as well as recycle young people’s lives,” he said.
They are lives ultimately recycled by the clients’ own self-worth.