The last few months proved to be significant for California’s environmentalists and waste & recycling industry alike. In addition to signing SB 270, the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1826 (Chesbro), requiring commercial businesses to begin recycling organics.
According to Assembly Bill 1826, organics include “food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste.” By spring 2016, restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial food and yard waste producers generating at least 8 cubic yards of organics per week will be required to separate their organics and properly send the materials to an organics processing facility.
Most notably, the move towards large-scale organics recycling will reduce the amount of food scraps and yard waste headed to landfills, and increase materials headed for anaerobic digestion and composting facilities. The influx of organic materials to processing facilities will be converted to renewable energy through anaerobic digestion, or composted for use on local farms.
By signing AB 1826…Governor Brown ensured that all of California shares in the environmental, agricultural, and economic benefits of organics recycling with reduced local emissions of greenhouse gases, new jobs and valuable compost for our farms and vineyards – Mike Sangiacomo, President & CEO, Recology
Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro adds, “Landfilled food and other organic materials produce methane, a major contributor to climate change,” Chesbro said. “Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps 21 times more heat than carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas created by the burning of fossil fuels.”
Rural areas, however, are exempt: “‘Rural jurisdiction’ means a jurisdiction that is located entirely within one or more rural counties, or a regional agency comprised of jurisdictions that are located within one or more rural counties…’Rural county’ means a county that has a total population of less than 70,000 persons.”
Commercial organics recycling is a step forward in terms of increasing the State’s diversion percentages and reducing landfill tonnages. The end goal, however, will always be to return resources and nutrients back to the environment where they originated. We think it will help accomplish all of these goals.
This October, Recology, along with the ESOP Association and the employee ownership community, will be celebrating Employee Ownership Month. We’re excited to share the incredible spirit of employee ownership with our customers and employees.
Employee Ownership Month is an opportunity for ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) companies across the U.S. to educate employee owners and the public about the benefits of ESOPs.
The Recology Ownership Celebration Committee (ROCC) celebrates by organizing annual raffles and fundraisers to support the ESOP and build employee ownership pride. Each year, the ROCC also honors outstanding employees with employee of the year awards.
Employee Ownership Facts:
- There are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10 million employees.
- Total assets owned by U.S. ESOPs are estimated to be $869 billion.
- The Economic Performance Survey conducted by the Employee Ownership Foundation
in 2013 found that:
– 71% indicated a better performance in 2013, relative to 2012
– 78% indicated revenue increased in 2013
– 70% indicated profitability increased in 2013
For more information on ESOPs and Employee Ownership Month, please visit The ESOP Association.
Founded in 1921, Recology is a 100% employee-owned company dedicated to improving the environment by utilizing resources to their highest use. Recology is a member of the Washington, DC-based ESOP Association, and the California/Western States Chapter of the Association.
As employee owners, we aim to serve the communities in which we work and live by giving back with more than just our excellent services. Employees at our organics facilities fight hunger locally by maintaining community gardens at many of our organics facilities, including Jepson Prairie Organics, Recology Grover, Nature’s Needs and Recology Northwest Greenlands in McMinnville and Aumsville, Oregon. The wide variety of crops cultivated, from squash and potatoes to eggs and okra, are all donated to local nonprofit organizations, such as food banks and senior centers.
The community gardens use Recology compost as amendment to grow organic veggies and fruit; the same compost that is made from food scraps and yard trimmings, collected from residents and businesses in the areas we serve. This year, our dedicated Recologists grew over 16,900 pounds of produce, with further harvesting expected in the next few weeks!
We’ve seen how the “eat local” movement has gained a lot of attention recently. Local farmers’ markets and family farms are plentiful in and around the Bay Area, yet many people may not understand what it means to eat locally, or why it’s even important.
Generally, local food is defined as food that has traveled less than 400 miles from producer to consumer. Less travel time means a significant reduction in transportation costs and environmental impact. Eating locally not only has a direct impact on reducing energy use and global climate change, but it supports local economies and has a positive impact on local communities.
A few interesting facts about food consumption in the United States:
Did you know…much of the food purchased in grocery stores today is often imported from other countries?
Did you know…the average American meal contains ingredients imported from five different countries?
Did you know…the transportation of our food translates to massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, a leading greenhouse gas and major contributor to climate change?
Did you know…the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables in California by airplane resulted in 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of 12,000 cars on the road?
Buying, fresh, healthy foods from local farmers, fisherman, and ranchers, helps support our local economy, reduces carbon emissions, and best of all – it tastes delicious! Below are some links to local resources that offer an abundance of fresh and natural foods. Bon Appétit!
Below are a few resources for San Mateo County residents and businesses to purachse locally grown food:
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.
A limited number of bright, new pink Toters® will soon be delivered to customers who want an easy and unique way to help provide assistance and resources to local cancer patients.
Recology Vacaville Solano is leasing 150 of the pink Toters® for $200 each year. If all Toters® are leased, $30,000 will be donated to the Solano Midnight Sun Breast Cancer Foundation. Midnight Sun helps provide assistance and resources to the women and men in the local community who are affected by cancer. The foundation also promotes early detection by providing women with funds for mammograms.
The pink Toters® replace the gray residual waste (trash) containers. Customers may sign up now for their Pink Toter® – they will be delivered in September, just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. All Recology Vacaville Solano customers are eligible to participate!
Customers are encouraged to come into the Recology office in Vacaville to sign up for the Pink Toter® program, or contact Julia Lopez, Recology Recycling Manager, at 707-448-2945 or email@example.com.
Thank you to all volunteers from our Recology Oregon facilities who dedicated Saturday, July 19th to Recologizing George Middle School in Portland!
The pre-event prep and event-day work clearly displays an amazing transformation of the school that was in need of landscaping and a bit of Recology love. Combating the invasive ivy and removing the stubborn weeds was an arduous task. Yet, thanks to the efforts of volunteers, the soil has been rejuvenated with Recology compost and mulch.
As the students at George Middle School return for the new academic year, we hope they will be excited to see that their greenhouse has been refurbished and the front-yard, courtyards and parking lot have been re-landscaped. This single day of volunteerism equates to 112 hours of service, which is approximately a $2,800 in-kind contribution to the school.
On Saturday, July 19, 2014, 200 Recology and community partners made a tremendous improvement to Little Hollywood Park in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood.
We selected this project not only to beautify the neighborhood park in close proximity to our Recology San Francisco transfer station, but to share our Recology spirit in memory of our late colleague, John Legnitto.
With the help of volunteers, we accomplished the following:
- Weeded and removed invasive wild blackberry and Algerian ivy located adjacent to the Recology property line
along a 100 yard fence on the upper park level.
- Planted over 100 native drought tolerant plants supplied by SFRPD using 30 cubic feet of Recology potting mix for 10 cement planter
boxes and surrounding hillside.
- Spread 60 cubic yards of Recology arbor mulch produced by Recology Grover Environmental Products in selected areas throughout the 1.3 acre park.
- Power washed, prepped and painted 10 wooden picnic tables, 18 wooden park benches, 15 cement trash receptacles, 10 cement planter boxes, a wooden swing structure, a multi-level staircase, railing and retaining walls using tools from Recology CleanScapes and paint supplied by SFRPD.
All work was done in preparation for the park renovation that will take place in October 2014. Together, our efforts for one day totaled 800 hours of service, which amounts to an in-kind donation of over $20,000 to the SFRPD.
Thank you for making our joint project with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) a success!
The Recology San Francisco Environmental Learning Center has been re-named in honor of the late SF Group Manager, John A. Legnitto. Although John lost his battle with cancer on April 26th, 2014, we will always remember the good times we had with him, and the impact that he had on the Recology family.
Thanks to all who helped coordinate this dedication in John’s honor!