Zero Waste Initiative Notes

Attached are the documents - my notes and the powerpoint. If anything doesn’t work, my email is, and I’ll send it to you directly. Good luck studying!

Who: San Francisco of Supervisors
What: Zero Waste Initiative
When: September 30th, 2002
Where: San Francisco
Why: Stop climate problems! Less trash for incinerators is les co2, less landfills is less land pollution.

What is the purpose of Zero Waste Initiative?

The Zero Waste Initiative is a city program with the goals to reduce their waste by 75% by the year 2010 and eliminate it all together by 2020. This will require the best possible usage of available materials. The goal is not to use ANY incinerators or landfills because everything will be recyclable or biodegradable and this used for compost.

How is this going to be accomplished?

There are three main ways of targeting the issue of too much solid waste:
1)    Recycling Collection
a.    The Fantastic Three (residential):
i.    You have three carts to put stuff in!
1.    The BLUE cart – Paper items, bottles, and cans. Have a lot? Request a bigger cart, and getting it is totally free!
2.    The GREEN cart – Compost. Food, food-soiled paper, and plants. Have a lot? Request a bigger cart, and getting it is totally free!
3.    The BLACK cart – Garbage. Everything else except for such hazardous waste as batteries, electronics, light bulbs, etc. Have a lot? No problem! A bigger cart is always available! Except this time, you have to pay for it.
2)    Recycling Centers
a.    Drop off stuff that doesn’t go into the BLUE, GREEN, or BLACK cart. You’ll get paid for it.
3)    Construction and Demolition Debris Recycling
a.    Whoever owns the land has to make sure that the debris is properly taken care of. That means that a properly registered transporter brings a minimum of 65% of the debris to a registered facility.

What happens with food scraps from the GREEN bin? It is collected for composting. 300 tons of food scraps are sent EACH DAY to a composting facility, where this organic material turns into nutrient rich soil to grow MORE food – just like Nature intended.

Who is involved in this?

Everyone. The government controls the surplus so that city-owned furniture and electronics are not tossed when unwanted, but available to other departments so that new things aren’t always bought. What does everyone else do? This program holds both the producers and consumers responsible. How is this done?
1)    Producer Responsibility:
a.    Make things more durable, easier to recycle, and less toxic
2)    Consumer Responsibility:
a.    Buy what you need, reuse things, and buy GREEN.
b.    Put this in perspective. If a business purchases a single ton of 100% post consumer recycled content paper, what does that mean in terms of the environment?
It means that:
1.    17 trees are saved.
2.    4,200 kilowatt hours of energy are saved (enough to heat or cool an average North American home for about, oh, half a year?)
3.    7,000 gallons of water.
4.    60 pounds of pollutants are kept out of the atmosphere.

Why would anyone bother putting in all this effort for something that is so heavily debated in our society?

Incentive, of course! You as an individual are going to be healthier! It also helps that the city has these programs that make it very, very easy to sort out what you want to dispose of. Why do businesses bother? Because the total percentage of waste that they divert from being tossed = the percentage of the discount they get on the bill they pay for waste.

Well, money is always nice. What else is the government doing?

They’re participating by being the example. San Francisco departments have around 80,000 tons of waste a year. To get rid of it, it costs over $5 million. They, also, must divert 75% of their waste by 2010.
The guidelines for each city department are briefly summarized below:
1)    Each department should designate someone to oversee waste management in the department. Hopefully, that person is enthusiastic.
2)    Have a plan! Focus on these things: reducing, preventing, and/or reusing waste. Buying as many recycled things as possible. Having peoplee and equipment that enable recycling. Setting goals for the department. Last but not least, having examples to help motivate people.
3)    March 1st: Have a Waste Assessment report handed in to the Department of the Environment. Cover these topics: The types of waste generated, the volume or weight of said waste, and batteries purchased, collected, and recycled.
4)    What departments need janitors to consolidate recyclable materials to designated pick-up spaces for haulers.
5)    Let’s save trees, too! Follow these simple steps: All this stuff submitted? Do it electronically. If someone has to print, do so double sided. Also, if you have to use paper, it better meet RCO standards. If a city departments demands a submission of something printed, it better be written somewhere that yes, said department expects your bid, report, proposal, quotations, etc. to be printed double sided.
6)    Back to batteries. You might think that disposable ones are easier. Too bad. Contracts with battery vendors are now going to include this: They must be alkaline rechargeable batteries. They have to be recycled, and there has to be written documentation that it was, indeed, recycled. The vendor also has to suppoly detailed recycling instructions, and any hazardous substances explain WHY they are hazardous.
7)    It’s also not good enough that recycled things are bought. Oh, no. There is a minimum of 30% post-consumer material, and plastic products should really be avoided.

How is San Francisco doing right now?

As of 2007, they have managed to divert, so far, an amazing 69% o their original amount of waste. They are fully confident that they will be able to exceed the 75% in less than the 3 years left to accomplish the goal.

Um. This is expensive. I can’t afford it. And you’re going to make me lose my job, too.

Um, yes you can. Maybe it seems like a lot of extra money and effort, but here are just some of the ways in which it’ll pay off. First of all, you’re saving your planet. But as this doesn’t seem to interest people enough, let’s make it a bit more short-termed. By composting food, you lessen trash, thus pay less for garbage bills (your tax money!). You get paid to recycle. You are trying to reuse old things, so you aren’t paying for the creation of new things. As for the jobs… companies still need to operate. They’ll just operate differently. You probably won’t lose your job. If you do, well, there is a new market in jobs and technology to help further this initiative. Theoretically, when the rest of the planet catches on, you get to work there, too.

How does this compare to the rest of us progressive Americans?

Currently, San Francisco is at around 69%, as said earlier. The United States rate of waste diversion is 30.6%. Someone has a lot of catching up to do.

How is New York doing, and how can we use what San Francisco is doing to help our progress?

-    Unity! San Francisco is working with the cooperation of private companies such as garbage and recycling, public establishments, businesses such as restaurants and supermarkets, and individual residents and consumers.

1)    On March 27, 2007, San Francisco banned plastic bags in large markets and drugs stores. They must be replaced by biodegradable plastic or recyclable paper sacks.
2)    Paying more to garbage companies based NOT on how much it dumps in landfills, but how much it recycles. 85% possible, final 15% only by reformation of products.

Then again, keep these problems in mind:
- According of the 2006 census, San Francisco has a population of 744,041     over 47 square miles, making the density less than 16,000 people per square mile. New York, according to the 2005 census, however, has a population of 8,143,197 people over 301 square miles, making the density over 27,000 people per square mile.

Conclusion: There’s going to be a huge change. There’s no denying it. It’s not that simple or easy to completely change one’s lifestyle, and we’ve gotten used to the convenience of being able to toss everything away. But now, not only do we know that we can’t keep doing this, but we also know that we can stop doing this – at least, so far, by 69%. If the government steps in and makes sure producers produce green things and the consumers consume green things, that this will replace the current cycle.

Optimizing recycling in all of New York City’s neighborhoods: Using GIS to develop the REAP index for improved recycling education, awareness, and participation
Marjorie J. Clarkea,  and Juliana A. Maantayb, , ,  
aDepartment of Geography, Hunter College, City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA
bDepartment of Environmental, Geographic, and Geological Sciences, Lehman College, City University of New York, 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West, Bronx, NY 10468, USA 
Received 9 August 2004;  accepted 29 June 2005.  Available online 19 August 2005.
New York City’s recycling program began in 1988 with scattered pilot programs to collect a restricted number of recyclable categories. Over time, the program was made more uniform in its implementation, was expanded citywide, and targeted more types of recyclables. Although Department of Sanitation surveys have shown that residents in all areas of the city have understood the requirements of the recycling program, recycling diversion rates vary substantially throughout the city’s neighborhoods, ranging from 9 to 31% per district, while city-wide the diversion rate averages only about 20%.
This paper explores the possible reasons for the disparity of recycling participation rates amongst neighborhoods, using recycling data collected by the city and federal census information to characterize the city’s neighborhoods and show variation in recycling participation rates, demographics, socio-economic indicators, and other metrics. Four variables were found to be strongly correlated with low diversion rates: percentage of persons below poverty level; percentage of households headed by a single female with children; percentage of adults without a high school diploma; and percentage of minority population.
A weighted linear model is used to calculate a one-number descriptive measure, called the recycling education, awareness, and participation (REAP) index, which relates recycling behavior for each of New York City’s 59 sanitation districts with demographic and socio-economic variables that might “predict” recycling rates. This REAP index can then be used to help inform decision- and policy-making about strategies for increasing recycling education, awareness, and participation, help target particular communities for assistance, and prioritize resources. The effects of rapid program changes and substandard residential recycling environments are also discussed as possible influences on recycling participation rates, as well as other attitudinal, physical, and knowledge-based factors that may be indirectly associated with low socio-economic status communities.

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