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Sebastopol is first to embrace countywide zero-waste campaign

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sebastopol has become the first local city to sign on to a campaign that would commit residents and businesses to reducing the community’s waste stream to zero by the year 2030 — part of a countywide bid to curb greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment while preserving the region’s limited landfill capacity.

The ordinance approved by the City Council calls for individuals to cut their own garbage production by at least 10 percent a year. It also sets the stage for future policy decisions governing single-use products, composting and recycling, officials said.

“Zero waste is our future, along with electric cars and electric bicycles,” veteran City Councilwoman Sarah Glade Gurney said Wednesday.

The city’s resolution was part of a package of measures approved unanimously Tuesday night as a lead-off to a countywide zero-waste campaign championed by the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.

The City Council also expressed support for an ordinance that would ban polystyrene food service containers and require food vendors to use biodegradable or recyclable food wares — another campaign being promoted by the county waste agency.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8851069-181/sebastopol-is-first-to-embrace

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Green-waste options mulled for Santa Rosa apartment dwellers

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Most [apartments], perhaps 90 percent, do not yet have a food waste option, Migliore said. But a number of complexes have begun testing organic waste programs, including the Coddingtown Mall Apartments. Some residents had installed their own small compost tumblers on their porches, so there was clearly an interest in providing the service, said Harry Brown, one of the property managers.

When Carlos Calzontzi lived in Chico, he and his wife had a little house with a garden and a compost pile where he would throw most of his kitchen scraps.

It felt good to return those nutrients back to the Earth and fertilize the soil to help grow vegetables for his family.

But when the retired city maintenance worker relocated last year to Santa Rosa to be closer his kids and grandkids, he moved into an apartment complex that at the time had no green-waste disposal option. The Coddingtown Mall Apartments, like most apartment complexes in the county, provided its 230 units with garbage and recycling service, but no bins for organic waste.

So he threw his leftover avocado pits, unused vegetable chunks and bread scraps into the garbage, where they went to the landfill.

“We felt bad because we knew all of that could be used in the garden,” Calzontzi said. “We care about the Earth.”

Organic material makes up about 34 percent of the material that Californians throw into landfills every year, according to a 2014 study by CalRecycle, the state waste management agency.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a 2014 law meant to improve organic recycling efforts, in part by requiring businesses like restaurants and food processors to have an organic waste program. But multi-family apartment complexes were exempted from the law.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8680335-181/green-waste-options-mulled-for-santa

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Commercial compost operation proposed in Santa Rosa

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County is getting closer to once again having a large-scale commercial composting operation.

Staff at the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, which is responsible for recycling operations in the county, is recommending partnering with Renewable Sonoma in a new composting operation in Santa Rosa.

Renewable Sonoma is owned by Sonoma Compost, the organization that operated a compost yard atop the Sonoma County landfill from 1993 to 2015, when it was shut down over water quality concerns.

Will Bakx, co-owner and CEO of Renewable Sonoma, said the new venture seeks to create a renewable energy and composting facility next to the Laguna Treatment Plant on Llano Road southwest of Santa Rosa.

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8462923-181/commercial-compost-operation-proposed-in

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Republic Services to buy Santa Rosa trash hauler, recycling center

Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Republic Services, which has operated the Sonoma County-owned Central Landfill west of Cotati since late 2010, is the nation’s second largest waste firm.

Its expansion in Sonoma County could position it for a head-to-head competition with Recology for future hauling business, according to local solid waste experts.

Republic Services, the national solid waste giant that runs Sonoma County’s landfill, is in the process of acquiring a Santa Rosa garbage contractor and its recycling center in a move that could further shake up the region’s garbage industry.

Industrial Carting, along with its Global Materials Recovery Services recycling operation, both located on Santa Rosa Avenue south of the city, is selling to the Arizona-based company, according to Lee Pierce, a consultant for Industrial Carting, and Leslye Choate, a Sonoma County government official who is handling paperwork related to the deal.

Neither company would elaborate on the acquisition or disclose the terms of the agreement.

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8386238-181/republic-services-to-buy-santa

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California wages war on plastic

Rosanna Xia, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

It took years of activist campaigns to turn the plastic bag into a villain, and hard-fought legislation to reduce its presence in oceans and waterways. Now, environmentalists and lawmakers are deploying similar tactics against a new generation of plastic pollutants.

There are drinking straws, which as a viral video shows can get stuck in a sea turtle’s nose. The hundreds of thousands of bottle caps that wind up on beaches. And the microfibers that wash off polyester clothes, making their way into the ocean, the stomachs of marine life and ultimately our seafood.

Each is the subject of statewide legislation under debate in Sacramento, as California again considers new environmental law that’s at once pioneering and controversial.

Their action comes as plastic takes center stage as the environmental concern du jour.
There could be more plastic by weight than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, according to a widely cited World Economic Forum report. A recent UC Davis study sampled seafood sold at local markets in Half Moon Bay and found that one-quarter of fish and one-third of shellfish contained plastic debris.

Read more at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-california-plastic-pollution-20180528-story.html

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California has a recycling crisis. The only way to solve it is to stop making so much trash

Times Editorial Board, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

Californians use — and then toss — a tremendous amount of paper and plastic packaging material every day: takeout coffee cups and lids, cereal boxes, wine bottles, plastic bags, clamshell food containers, and on and on.

It’s hard for even the most militant environmentalist to avoid contributing to this waste stream, given the inescapability of products wrapped in some sort of disposable material. Even fruits and vegetables that are naturally encased in durable, compostable wrapping will be trundled up in plastic bags in the produce aisle for the trip home.

Those disturbed by the amount of trash they produce have been able to assuage their guilty consciences by making sure every potential recyclable item ended up in the blue recycling bin. Surely there could be no long-term environmental toll if every empty plastic soda bottle and chipboard six-pack carrier was diverted from the landfill and remade into a cozy fleece jacket or an organic chemistry textbook.

What a lovely story. Too bad it’s about as true as a happily-ever-after fairy tale. Recycling has never been the solution to the problem posed by empty beer cans, plastic takeout containers and other single-use items, just a way to mitigate the effects enough to pretend that all this waste is not really wasteful. But reality is becoming harder to ignore now that the foreign market for our trash is collapsing. Hallelujah to that, as it might just be the impetus needed to force society to confront the disposable culture that is trashing the planet.

Read more at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-recycling-crisis-20180526-story.html

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California looks to ban removable plastic bottle caps, restrict plastic straws

Jeff Daniels, CNBC

…some see the fight against plastic garbage as more urgent since China this year stopped accepting plastic waste. North American plastic scrap has long been shipped to China but the world’s most populous country has been overwhelmed by its own waste and environmental problem and banned not only polyethylene terephthalate (or PET) commonly used in water and soda plastic bottles, but 24 different types of solid waste.

California may ban detachable caps on plastic bottles that could potentially set a bottling standard for the rest of the nation and the state also is looking at restricting plastic straws.

The plastic bottle cap legislation is designed to reduce litter and encourage that the caps get recycled but it would force beverage companies in California — the sixth-largest economy in the world — to switch to caps tethered to plastic bottles. That said, some bottled water companies such as Crystal Geyser have already started doing so and Nestle has it on sports caps for some of its Arrowhead bottled water.

Read more at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/07/california-targets-removable-plastic-bottle-caps-plastic-straws.html

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U.S. recycling woes pile up as China escalates ban

Adam Allington, BLOOMBERG NEWS

Tens of thousands of tons of recyclables have been diverted to U.S. landfills in recent months as the reality of China’s new ban on certain types of imported waste takes hold.

The ban, which went into effect Jan. 1, covers imports of 24 types of solid waste, including unsorted paper and the difficult-to-recycle types of plastic, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET), commonly used in plastic bottles.

And China’s import restrictions become even tighter March 1, increasing the sense of urgency U.S. recyclers feel to find new outlets for their products. At the same time, some industry officials say the situation could be a blessing in disguise if it eventually prods the U.S. toward processing more of its own recycling.

“What we’re seeing now is really unprecedented,” said Julie Miller, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

China has been by far the largest market for U.S scrap exports—in many cases the recyclable materials Americans put in curbside containers. China’s crackdown, now three months old, has both U.S. and global waste collectors scrambling to find new markets for their recyclables to avoid disrupting curbside collection services.

Read more at https://www.bna.com/us-recycling-woes-n57982089254/

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Amid a flood of plastic, big companies try to clean up image

Danica Kirka, ASSOCIATED PRESS

In the last few months, Amcor, Ecover, Evian, L’Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Walmart and Werner & Mertz – which together use more than 6 million metric tons of plastic packaging per year — have committed to using only reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an innovation think-tank.

LONDON (AP) — Once a month, accountant Michael Byrne pulls on his rubber boots and makes his way to a spot on the banks of the River Thames.

He carefully marks out a one-square meter (11-square foot) patch and, with gloved hands, catalogues each bit of plastic he finds, meticulously reporting the data to the environmental group Thames21. On Aug. 20, for example, he and other volunteers found an average of 31 food wrappers, the sticks from 29 cotton swabs, 12 bottle tops and about 100 pieces of small chewed up plastic in each patch.

“We are the data gatherers” who provide evidence of the plastic that’s clogging the world’s rivers and oceans, he said. “We are building up a picture all along the river of what is washing up.”

Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is swelling after alarming forecasts that there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. Plus the shocking images are rolling in: Britain’s Sky News’ campaign against ocean plastic featuring whales bloated by plastic bags; National Geographic’s chilling picture of a seahorse curled around a pink cotton swab, and filmmaker David Attenborough’s documentary “Blue Planet II” footage of sea turtles shrouded in plastic.

Read more at https://www.apnews.com/21beacb71e40446a979b6b2edad1f5c1/Amid-a-flood-of-plastic,-big-companies-try-to-clean-up-image

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New year, new garbage services for Santa Rosa

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For more information about Recology programs on the North Coast, visit www.recology.com/recology-sonoma-marin/

Santa Rosa’s new garbage hauler is rolling out plenty of changes for customers this New Year’s, including new plastic bins, new trucks and new rates to pay for it all.
Recology, the San Francisco-based garbage company, completed its purchase of The Ratto Group December 23, making it the dominant waste hauler on the North Coast.
Most Sonoma County residents and businesses will see few changes from the sale because Recology has merely taken over Ratto’s existing service contracts.
But beginning Jan. 1, the company began operating in Santa Rosa under a new 15-year contract that calls for sweeping new changes to the refuse service to 55,000 residential and commercial accounts.
The city hopes Recology will provide not only better service and accountability than its predecessor, but will help it achieve its environmental goals of increasing recycling and reducing the amount of garbage heading to the landfill.
“They really buy into the zero waste philosophy,” said Gloria Hurtado, deputy city manager. “They certainly have a track record of achieving good results in other communities.”Here’s a look at some of the changes in store for local garbage service under Recology.
Read more at: New year, new garbage services for Santa Rosa