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.
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.
Sponsored by Recology San Bruno and the City of San Bruno
The Coats For Kids Coat drive has started! Help someone in San Mateo County stay warm this winter. Donate new or clean, gently used coats from infant to adult sizes.
Drop off your coats at the collection bin at the San Bruno farmers’ market booth this Sunday!
Can’t make it to the Farmer’s Market this Sunday? There are other ways to participate.
Drop-off Locations (October 1st – October 31st):
Busy Baker 444 San Mateo Avenue
Crystal Springs Terrace Apt, office – 2000 Crystal Springs Rd
First Filipino American Church 461 Linden Avenue
La Petite Baleen Swimming School – 434 San Mateo Avenue
Marshall Realty – 683 Jenevein Avenue
Peninsula Place Condos Club House – 1125 Cherry Avenue
Prudential California Realty – 180 El Camino Real
San Bruno Cable – 398 El Camino Real
San Bruno Chamber of Commerce – 618 San Mateo Avenue
San Bruno City Hall – 567 El Camino Real
San Bruno Fire Department – 555 El Camino Real
San Bruno Library – 701 W. Angus Avenue
San Bruno Recreation Center – 251 City Park Way
Shelter Creek Condo Club House – 701 Shelter Creek Lane
Tony’s Auto Repair – 601 Kains Avenue
October 21st – 25th, Recology San Bruno will collect coats in clearly marked bags placed curbside on your regular garbage day.
Saturday, October 26th –8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, bring your coats to the AYSO soccer fields at the former Crestmoor High for Make a Difference Day
Coat Give Away Day
Date & Time:Thursday, November 21st, 4:00-7:00PM
Where:National Guard Armory, 455 3rd Avenue
All are welcome! Limit ONE coat per person. Children MUST be present to receive a coat.
Coats for Kids is made possible by:
* California National Guard
* Our wonderful volunteers
* San Bruno residents and businesses
* San Bruno donation sites
Volunteer at Coat Give Away Day!
Would you like to help children and their families find a new warm coat for the winter?
Please contact Recology San Bruno at 650-583-8536 for more information.
Guest blogger Lorie Poole, Recycling Coordinator and Customer Service Representative at Recology Del Norte, on the bitter sweet experience of sending a boat brought to her town by the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
News travels fast in a small town.
The 20-foot boat washed up on Crescent Beach on April 7th. It belonged to a coastal fishing town of Rikuzentakata–a town in Japan unfortunate to have had the second-highest death toll from the 2011 tsunami.
We were preparing for Earth Day, so I quickly updated my Pacific Gyre/Beach Clean Up display to include beached tsunami debris in our list of targeted materials for the event. Soon, Lori Dengler, the Humboldt State University Geologist and tsunami researcher came up to Crescent City to research the boat. She was the one to discover that the boat belonged to the Takata High School’s marine science program.
Jeff Parmer, from the Crescent City Chamber of Commerce, explained that a local high school group headed by their teacher, Joyce Ruiz, was going to send the boat back to Japan.
Recology del Norte began coordinating with Commander Bill Stevens of the Sheriffs Office to help transport the boat. I wanted to see what we could do.
Mean while, the local students started fundraising. With help from the Crescent City maintenance crew, local property managers, and our area operations disaster management group, the students found a shipping company that would ship the boat for free. The students put together a video that they sent to the Takata students and have set up a donation page.
On the morning of September 4th I received a call from Bill asking for help transporting the boat to Menlo Park by September 16th. With such short notice, it seemed unlikely that we could help, but Tommy Sparrow, Recology Del Norte’s General Manager, was able to find a vehicle. It just so happened that an empty Recology truck was traveling in our direction. It was scheduled to pick up a load south of us, but one of Recology’s senior managers approved a stop in Crescent City and the boat was picked up the very next day.
I called Bill back. He was excited and instantly rushed to get all his contacts involved. Emails were flying. In just a matter of two hours the plan came together. The truck would be on site by 8AM on Thursday, the property manager would have the building open, the city maintenance crew would load the boat, two of the students would be there to say farewell to the treasured boat, and the Daily Triplicate would be there to tell the story.
The boat was delivered to the shipping company on Friday, September 6th. It will be packed and shipped on September 22nd. After a 14-day voyage, the ship is scheduled to reach Tokyo by October 6th.
The shipping company has arranged transport and storage for the boat until Takata High School can be rebuilt and prepare a space to put it on display.
Del Norte High students are working with city and county officials, as well as local clubs to raise money for 10 students and 3 adults to make a trip to Takata High School in Rikuzentakata, Japan. Many Del Norte officials are helping to foster a plan to become sister cities with Rikuzentakata.
This event has helped raise awareness about tsunamis and disaster preparedness in Del Norte County. Before this event, only one high school group had taken Community Emergency Response Training. Now two more classes are being scheduled.
Here’s a timeline and links to more info:
· Japan earthquake /tsunami, magnitude 8.9 with waves as high as 40 meters – March 11, 2011
· New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/world/asia/22missing.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 – March 21,2011
· Boat washes up on Crescent Beach – April 7, 2012
· Lori Dengler’s site: Lori Dengler – Tsunamis, earthquakes, geophysics, natural hazard mitigation, https://picasaweb.google.com/105862892016189181305/CrescentCityTsunamiBoat?authkey=Gv1sRgCNqP6t_Zs4qXUA&feat=email# – April 8, 2012
Del Norte Triplicate story: http://www.triplicate.com/News/Local-News/Tsunami-boat-to-move-to-new-site – June 10, 2013 and a more recent story: http://www.triplicate.com/News/Local-News/Symbol-of-hope-starts-journey-home-to-Japan
· Student to Student video: http://www.delnorte.org/news/tsunami-boat-student-to-student-video
· http://studentsrebuild.org/blog/2013-07-22/amazing-journey-japan July 22, 2013
· High school fundraiser page: http://www.gofundme.com/3vvsgc
Photos by Adam Spencer, courtesy of Del Norte Triplicate.
Yesterday, an independent panel consisting of former Mayors, architects and reps from the World Bank, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Siemens recognized ten cities around the world for their leadership in urban sustainability practices. San Francisco was recognized for it’s work in ”waste management”. I think they actually meant resource recovery, but, it’s just semantics. Right?
In 2009 we started talking about WASTE ZERO. It’s our rallying cry to make the best and highest use of all resources that we can. The real natural resource challenges we’re facing around the world, and in California, have everything to do with it. Recology is driven to find a social, environmentally-sound and economical solution to the vast amount of waste that we create in industrialized economies. I was reminded that we have a lot in this country while having a conversation with one of the Haitian artists working at the San Francisco transfer station. He expressed surprise at just how much gets thrown “away”. Good things, repairable things. Reusable things. Recyclable and compostable things.
In San Francisco, the call to make Zero Waste a reality is starting to be heard. And with this award comes some recognition of the hard work being done in the city by regular people who have started to change their habits. They pause and consider what can be recycled and composted as they stand over the three containers in their kitchens. They search through Whatbin.com for answers to what goes where. And while there is still a ways to go before we reach zero waste, we’re at least on our way. And that’s exactly what sustainability is about.
Congratulations to everyone in San Francisco!
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”.
You can read more about Shideh’s experience at http://www.thebolditalic.com/shidehe/stories/2872-i-refused-to-compost.
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.”
Students of teachers Sandra Sperow and Dawn Tesarowski from Audubon School in Foster City were awarded first place. The fifth grade class was rewarded with $500 by RethinkWaste for their “The U.S.A. Just Got Recycled Map”.
Second place went to Shelly Jones’ fourth grade students at Fiesta Gardens International School for “Young Shadows: Homage to Louise Nevelson”.
Third place went to Kathie Strafaci’s sixth grade class at St. Charles School in San Carols for “Tiger,” a representation of their school mascot.
Winners will receive their awards on Saturday, April 20th from 10AM-2PM at the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos.
For more information, visit www.rethinkwaste.org.