In the spring of 2010, Nathaniel Stookey, a participant in the Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence program, performed a composition called Junkestra at the San Francisco Symphony. It was played with more than thirty instruments made entirely from objects that were discarded at the San Francisco Dump. Among them were bird cages, bicycle wheels, drawers, sewer pipes, railings, saws, and fixtures. And somehow, Stookey pulled it off. Cnet.com published a nice article about the project, which included a link to the composition’s third movement that you can download here (3MB). Just two years earlier, in 2008, the composition was part of the opening of the California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park, and was made into a CD performed by the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.
There are other treasures that have emerged from the Artist in Residence program. For over twenty years, the program has inspired artists and the public to see garbage in a different way. Through the program, artists scavange the “junk” that people throw away–sometimes the volume of useful things can be overwhelming–and they transform what they find into works of art. Last year, Recology produced Art at the Dump: The Artist in Residence Program and Environmental Learning Center at Recology, a book that profiles the 78 artists who had participated in the program since its founding.
The program has won numerous awards and recognition, including the Best Art from Trash – 2011 award from SFWeekly, The Acterra Business Environmental Award in 2009, inspired Recology’s GLEAN (formerly the Pacific Northwest Art Program) in Portland, RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residence) in Philadelphia, and was recently profiled for being the nexus of environmental activism. The program has become a beacon of culture, education and entertainment in San Francisco.
Join us for the first exhibit of 2012! 503 Tunnel Avenue in San Francisco.
It’s been a great holiday. Cabinet and Lighting Supply in Reno, Nevada came up with a creative way to reuse old light bulbs. Many people rented or recycled their Christmas trees. For the fifth year in a row, Recology Vacaville Solano and Recology Dixon employee owners worked with a local agency to help a family in need have a special Christmas. The Recology Yuba-Sutter donated new blankets and tarps to the Red Cross and Recology San Mateo County collected coats for kids, teenagers and adults in six Peninsula cities and various drop off locations.
The Coats for Kids collection program concluded on Dec. 20th and Recology San Mateo County would like to thank the cities and residents of Belmont, Burlingame, Foster City, Menlo Park, Redwood City and San Carlos for their participation in this worthwhile program.
Residents in the participating communities placed coats in a clear plastic bag marked “Coats for Kids” next to or on the top of their blue recycling cart on their regular collection day for pick up by the Recology collection drivers. Collection containers labeled “Coats for Kids” were also placed at various locations throughout several communities and Recology’s office where residents were also able to drop off coats.
In just days, Recology and all participating cities in San Mateo County collected over 750 coats! The coats were then sorted by Recology staff and donated to St. Anthony’s Church and Samaritan House for distribution to those families in need.
Recology San Mateo County General Manager, Mario Puccinelli was glad to do it. “Recology has been providing our Coats for Kids Program for many years in the communities we service. It has proven to be a great program helping those in dividuals and families in need,” he said.
The Coats for Kids program is going to be held annually by Recology San Mateo County with the hopes of having more communities participate next year.
About Recology San Mateo County:
Recology San Mateo County was chosen in 2008 by RethinkWaste to provide recycling, compost and garbage collection services for its twelve member agencies. Recology’s roots in recycling go back to the 1920s in San Francisco, when garbage men, known then as “scavengers,” actively sought out alternative uses for refuse.
Recology Humboldt County will now provide curbside recycling services to residents of the unincorporated Blue Lake and Fieldbrook areas of Humboldt County. Recyclables will be collected in blue bags from the curb, along with garbage service. Recology Humboldt County’s Mike Leggins is excited to get the new recycling program up and running because “[i]t’s a low-cost means to get recycling service started.”
In Marysville, Recology Yuba-Sutter customers will get a free on-call curbside bulky-item pick-up once a year (1 per customer in areas that have the 3-cart service) in addition to their annual free dump coupon program.
They will also have access to up to 50-gallons of free compost through an annual compost give-away at the Marysville Transfer Station. Outreach and education is also part of the plan to help customers understand how they can decrease contamination of the recyclable materials they put into the yard debris and recycling carts.
We are happy that enthusiasm for our resource recovery programs is catching on!
Kaboose.com has a list of craft ideas to make from recycled and reusable material. There’s nothing like making things with kids to enrich their early life experiences.
In San Mateo County, you can also participate in the annual Coats for Kids collection drive. Recology San Mateo County will start collecting coats as part of the residential recycling service and will also picking up coats at special drop-off locations.
1110 Alameda de las Pulgas
|Monday – Wednesday
10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Thursday – Friday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
1 Twin Pines Lane
|Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
911 Granada Street
|Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
501 Primrose Road
|Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
911 Granada Street
|Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Foster City:||Recreation Center:
650 Shell Boulevard
|Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM|
800 Alma Street
|Monday & Wednesday
10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Tuesday 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Thursday & Friday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
|Menlo Park:||Arrillaga Family
701 Laurel Street
|Monday – Sunday
5:30 AM – 10:00 PM
|Menlo Park:||Onetta Harris
100 Terminal Avenue
|Monday – Friday
12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
|Redwood City:||City Hall:
1017 Middlefield Road
|Monday & Friday
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|San Carlos:||City Hall:
600 Elm Street
|Monday & Friday
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
San Mateo County:
|225 Shoreway Road||Monday & Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Recology Vallejo has collected children’s coats each year for the past eight years. The donated coats may be of any size but should be in good enough shape that a child can play, sit and go to school with a sense of pride.
All coats will be cleaned and then given to local children who are in need.
We look forward to your participation during the holiday season.
Today, Recology San Francisco collected it’s 1 millionth ton of food scraps for composting.
Since the pilot program launched in the mid 1990s, the program has grown in popularity and acceptance. It was in 2009, however, that participation in the program became a requirement. Following San Francisco’s example, over 90 cities across the world have created similar laws, says the San Francisco Chronicle.
The food scraps—what is leftover from dinner at a restaurant or what went bad in the refrigerator—are composted and sent on to farms and vineyards in Northern California. Besides increasing San Francisco’s landfill diversion rate up to 78%, compost may be said to help prevent further desertification in the United States. The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service provides a map of the regions that are vulnerable to desertification. The state of California is one of them.
This Thanksgiving, remember to compost your food scraps. We need them for next year’s crops.
1. Place a paper bag inside the kitchen pail provided for compost, or line it with newspaper to avoid a mess. Remember not to use plastic bags – they’re not compostable
2. Sprinkle baking soda on the compost if it starts to smell.
3. Deter flies with citrus, lavender, eucalyptus or lemongrass oils by placing a few drops on a cloth and leaving it inside or on top of the pail.
4. Check to see if something is compostable before you throw it away. Take-out containers, pizza boxes, coffee cups and wine corks are all compostable.
5. If you generate almost no garbage, you may be able to utilize the 20-gallon cart service, which can save you $2 per month.
(src: Recology San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle, page C2)
Recology has been working to transform the landfill industry for over a decade. It’s not as simple as it sounds. Landfills are the place where we put all the things that cities and towns don’t recycle, the things that we don’t yet know how to recycle, and the things that were made without any thought given to their recoverability. Unfortunately, product designers are still slow to catch up on making recoverable products. Many municipal programs still don’t offer complete recycling and composting programs throughout the U.S. Many families, businesses and well-meaning people don’t understand composting. And then there are all the other quirky things, like ADC for example.
In California, 10% or nearly 3.5 million tons of the 34.9 million tons of material that were disposed of last year (including what was landfilled in California, imported and exported) was alternative daily cover, or ADC. According to CalRecycle, ADC is:
CalRecycle-approved materials other than soil used as a temporary overlay on an exposed landfill face. Generally, these materials must be processed so that they do not allow gaps in the face surface, which would provide breeding grounds for insects and vermin. Public Resources Code section 41781.3 stipulates this practice is recycling, not disposal, and authorizes Cal Recycle to adopt regulations, such as Title 27 California Code of Regulations, section 20690. Approved materials include processed green materials, sludge, ash and kiln residue, compost, construction and demolition debris, and special foams and fabrics.
In other words, ADC is material that actually goes to the landfill, and for all intents and purposes is landfilled, but ADC is counted as landfill diversion because it prevents clean soil from being imported and then contaminated at a landfill. That’s not so bad right? Instead of using clean soil to cover an exposed landfill on a day to day basis, why not use other materials that serve the same function? Well, a closer look at what was actually used as ADC may be enlightening.
Much of what was used for ADC in California in 2008 was auto shredder waste, sometimes called “auto shred” or “auto fluff.” According to the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology, “Auto fluff is waste left over from shredding old cars for scrap metal. It can contain heavy metals and poly-chlorinated biphenyls.” Although this material would probably have been landfilled anyway, it counts towards the diversion rate.
So, now that you know that ADC can be counted towards landfill diversion, how are the diversion leaders in California using ADC in 2008?
Oakland used 202 thousand tons of ADC that year. San Jose used 159 thousand. San Francisco used 63 thousand.
In 2008, city of Oakland reported a diversion rate of 66%, but nearly 25% of that was achieved through ADC. Without ADC, it’s diversion rate would have been 41%!
San Jose diverted 65% that year, and 10% of that diversion was through ADC. Without ADC, it’s diversion rate would have been 55%!
San Francisco achieved a 72% diversion rate, but only 3% was from ADC. Without ADC, it’s diversion rate would have been 69%.
The important point here is that many cities across California are getting diversion credit without doing the heavy lifting. There are many cities that do not really divert materials from landfills. They may not create programs to educate people about reducing their consumption, programs to make it possible to reuse materials, and certainly don’t work to create robust recycling and composting programs. It means that although cities are achieving relatively high diversion rates, they are still landfilling valuable materials but getting the credit for landfill diversion by abusing the leeway CalRecycle has given them to count ADC towards their diversion rate.
Until there is a level playing field regarding what material can be used as alternative daily cover, and how landfill diversion is calculated, we will have to keep pounding the drum of resource recovery and insisting on the concept of WASTE ZERO. It is the only real and permanent way to make a positive impact on our natural world, our children’s future, and create the jobs that are so badly needed right now.
What does the future look like? We love this photo, which was part of the Super Crafty Costume Contest this past Halloween.
Crafty and creative people are always looking to repurpose the things around them, but for us here at Recology, upcycling holds a special place, and we are glad it is catching on. Sites like Etsy are helping. Through it, people can set up their own store fronts. Found*Ling, is one example of a store where new things are made from old things. Other examples of upcycled products range from table lamps made from recycled circuit boards to neckties made from cassette tapes. (See Mashable Tech for a full list).
This week, the Sierra Club Green Home reported on the Recologized Tote bag, a brainchild of a Recology San Francisco employee. The bag, made from the old or unused uniforms of Recology San Francisco employees, were created with the idea of utilizing landfill-bound items as “up-cycled” goods for sustainable living. The tote bag can be used as a shopping bag at your local farmers’ market, to run errands or for a day at the beach. The bag was made in collaboration with UPsicle, an SF-based designer who is a member of SFMade. UPsicle specializes in creating unique, water resistant, washable and reusable bags.
Recology has also been working with SFMade, which was founded in 2010, and has as its mission to build and support a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco. It is the only organization of its kind focused on building San Francisco’s economic base through these means, and currently supports more than 200 local manufacturers who collectively sustain more than 2,500 jobs in San Francisco. This month, SFMade and the Banana Republic are launching the first SFMade Pop-Up shop at the Banana Republic’s flagship store on Grant St. Their collaboration supports independent, San Francisco-based apparel and accessories companies.
With our 90+ year roots in reusing and recycling what others have thought of as “garbage” we are excited to continue to recover everything we can from landfills. This is what we mean by WASTE ZERO.
Marketers, in their zeal to “green” their products, are calling everything they can “biodegradable.” There was an article in September’s paper about making plastics “green.” Everyone’s trying it–softdrink manufacturers, plastic bag manufacturers and even pen manufacturers.
With the array of products being marketed as “green” alternatives to plastic ranging from “new carbon” inputs to biodegradable (although not necessarily compostable) processing options, it can be a confusing world out there. And consumers are confused, or more often, misled.
There is a line that marketers tend to cross. Under the pressure to produce the greenest consumer products, they tend to misuse language, and the word “sustainability” most of all. If we consider the entire lifecyle of these products, what do we really gain? We’ve seen some plastic bags marketed as “will biodegrade in a landfill,” which is dually funny, if you know anything about landfills.
An article in today’s Mercury News announced that California’s Attorney General is finally going after false advertising. This is a significant step in the recycling world. We are sure there will be a long road ahead for recyclers, manufactuers and consumers–everyone.
By now you may know that California has a new state goal of diverting 75% of “garbage” from landfills by 2020. 2020 is a big year for the state. San Francisco and Oakland have their own goal of reaching zero waste by that year. The city of Mountain View has set the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by that year. Why is 2020 so important?
Over twenty years ago, the California legislature mandated that 50% of landfill-bound materials had to be diverted to other uses. San Francisco, with its growing population opted for the higher goal of 75% several years later. The year 2020 is the target year for proving what can be accomplished in three generations. The idea of zero waste has gained momentum here in the United States because, whether aspiration or not, the technology, know-how, public will and information is now available for us to make it happen. Yet, according to CalRecycle, although some places in San Diego County are on their way to meeting the 75% recycling mandate, there are many places within that county and throughout California where cities, towns, municipalities and unincorporated areas struggle to divert even 50% of their landfill-bound materials.
So what is zero waste?
Zero waste is the perspective that no materials are sent to landfills or incinerators. At Recology we believe in WASTE ZERO, which means making the best and highest use of all resources. There is a slight distinction. It is not enough to aspire to send nothing to landfills. Rather, the idea of WASTE ZERO is that the materials that are diverted from end-of-life destinations should be used in smart ways.
Raising the bar on mandated recycling isn’t just about the destination of landfill-diverted materials. Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation not only to save our natural resources, but also to create jobs. Assembly member Chesbro, who authored the bill, said that the original 50% mandate helped to create 125,000 new jobs since 1989 and provide $4 billion in yearly salaries. Members of StopWaste.Org mentioned that for every job lost at a landfill, three more were created in recycling. Here’s to more jobs! Let’s keep recycling!
There was an article posted last week on tinygreenbubble.com about the semantics in the world of resource recovery. Jocelyn Saurini wrote “don’t think that I’m one of those girls on a bandwagon about how San Francisco does everything right. Believe me, I am not that girl. However, the city has nailed one thing fabulously: They’ve found a way to make residents think about landfill size every single time they throw things away.”
During her trip to SF, she discovered that landfill-bound material is collected in a container labeled “landfill” and not “trash” or “garbage”.
Semantics do matter in what we do because the materials that go into the green and blue containers ARE NOT garbage. According to one dictionary, garbage means: “any matter that is no longer wanted or needed; trash.”
But in the areas where we work, what diligent people do every day is make a decision to save our natural resources by recycling and composting. They are not “throwing away” anything except what there is no next best use for. The materials we recycle become the same or next use items. We convert the organics that we collect into compost. Let’s stop calling it garbage.
As for landfill size–yes, landfill space matters. In some communities people do not think about what they throw away and quickly use up the area available to dispose of true garbage. That means they end up having to find more land to use for landfilling “garbage”. But we see a more fundamental problem. Many useful resources are buried in the first place because no recycling alternatives exist.
As for everything that goes in the landfill container, yes its true that has no chance to be recovered. It doesn’t get sorted for usable material. So we depend on people to make the wise choice and minimize the amount of true garbage they put in that container. We know, like Jocelyn does, that “waste doesn’t just disappear.” That’s why we say WASTE ZERO.