Waste & recycling

S.F. Board Watch: Supervisors Take Aim at Bottled Water

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 19 2013 - 10:24pm

Bottled water is the latest bottled beverage in the line of fire after Supervisor David Chiu proposed controlling its sale in San Francisco.The proposal comes soon after another proposal to tax soda, which will likely appear on the ballot next November. In other news: The city moves forward on protections against harassment by landlords, and the Board of Supervisors approve a land swap with the school district to create more below-market-rate housing.

Plans to Relax California Climate Regulations Upset Some Environmentalists

Barbara Grady and Lisa Weinzimer, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 31 2013 - 12:38pm

California regulators are weighing plans to make it easier and less expensive for oil refineries and other big industries to comply with the state’s new cap-and-trade system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and environmentalists are alarmed. At a hearing last week in Sacramento, the California Air Resources Board heard staff proposals to amend the year-old cap-and-trade program to extend “transition assistance” to industry through 2018. The change, coming on the heels of lobbying from industry, would give businesses possibly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free allowances to pollute, and alter the economics of the emerging auction market for carbon.

Dirtytech: They Obsessively Sort and Recycle What You Dump

Hannah Miller, SF Public Press — Dec 20 2012 - 12:54pm

If you think of Recology as a set of blue, green and black bins that hang out in the alley of your house that you roll out to the curb weekly — you have no idea. Over the last 10 years, what San Franciscans have been thinking of “garbage collection” has been transformed into something vastly different and much more industrial. Last month the 91-year-old worker-owned company announced that 80 percent of what San Franciscans put in the bins is going somewhere other than the landfill, a vast improvement on the 34 percent national average. The 650 tons a day of recyclables hauled by Recology is divided up almost entirely by hand, by a vast army of sorters.

San Francisco’s plastic bag ban expands in October

Haley Zaremba, Public Press — Sep 19 2012 - 4:01pm

San Francisco’s hard-fought ban on plastic bags is scheduled to expand in October, yet despite the political momentum behind the battle against litter and landfill bulk, not all businesses are taking this news well.

New roots for green businesses

Brian Scoles, Earth Island Journal — Oct 24 2011 - 1:22pm

As the world economy increasingly collides with the limits of linear, “cradle-to-grave” production, more eyes are turning towards resource synergies, upcycling, and improved efficiencies to relieve some economic pressure and get more value with less waste. Take coffee. For every pound of coffee beans harvested (of which there were 17 billion in 2010, according to the International Coffee Organization), four pounds of pulp must be collected, and it is generally considered a waste product that is left in heaps to rot. But some companies, such as Equator Coffees & Teas and Thanksgiving Coffee, are supporting efforts to train farmers in Zimbabwe and Tanzania how to use coffee pulp as a substrate for growing oyster mushrooms.

City steps in where state fails to regulate toxic manis and pedis

Kyung Jin Lee, SF Public Press — May 23 2011 - 3:56pm

WORKING CONDITIONS: San Francisco program pushes nail salons to use safer chemicals

Heidi Hoang was pregnant when she first started working at Nails by Linda in San Francisco’s Sunset District. “There’s a lot of people who say, ‘You have to be careful with this kind of job. Maybe, no more baby,’” Hoang, now the salon manager, said. “I was so nervous.” Nail salon workers, many of whom are Vietnamese immigrants and refugees with limited English skills, have long endured toxic chemicals that emanate from products they use to beautify their clientele. The chemicals not only produce noxious fumes, but workers often complain of itchy skin, rashes and headaches after prolonged exposure to the substances. In an effort to combat the problem, San Francisco is developing guidelines to encourage nail salons to go green. In the absence of federal or state regulations protecting salon workers from toxic exposure at work, the city is working to educate salon owners about healthier alternatives.

Sex, drugs and filth plague city-sponsored public restrooms

Nina Frazier, SF Public Press — Apr 4 2011 - 10:16am

Second of two articles about hygiene options for San Francisco’s homeless

San Francisco’s 25 freestanding, so-called “self-cleaning” public restrooms scattered across the city are magnets for prostitution and drug use. They are so filthy that even after automatic cleanings, they require one to five manual scrub-downs a day. The Department of Public Works, which contracted with JCDecaux more than a decade ago to install and maintain the units, blames the company. The company blames the police. And the police say they don’t have time to babysit city toilets 24 hours a day. The homeless are often shut out of the facilities, which constitute the only public restrooms where they are welcome. Meanwhile, San Francisco takes a cut of the company’s profits from billboards that envelope the toilets.

Are food service providers really to blame for human waste in the Tenderloin’s streets?

Nina Frazier, SF Public Press — Mar 23 2011 - 1:04pm

First of two articles about hygiene options for San Francisco’s homeless

This much is clear: the lack of public restroom facilities in the Tenderloin is causing a stench. Fecal matter covers the streets, making it nearly impossible to walk without looking down to dodge the droppings. But what is less clear is who’s to blame. At the end of February, SF Weekly, The Examiner and SF Gate each ran stories accusing food service providers of not offering adequate bathroom facilities to accompany their operations – effectively saying that they were stuffing people with food, then giving them no place to go afterwards. However, an investigation by the Public Press showed that the largest non-profit kitchens, which serve food more than three days a week to thousands of hungry people in the Tenderloin, also provide restroom facilities.

City takes aim at reducing fats, oils and grease clogging sewers

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Feb 4 2011 - 1:58pm

The city says it spends $3.5 million annually on unclogging sewers from fats, oils and grease from food service establishments. A new ordinance that received a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors this week requires all restaurants to have a grease capturing device. The devices will be inspected by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to make sure they are working properly and are well-maintained.

Illegal dumping costing city millions of dollars

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jan 5 2011 - 2:32pm

The Department of Public Works wants residents to stop dumping unwanted items such as furniture and mattresses on city streets through a campaign launched last month and by the threat of fines of up to $1,000.

The department says illegal dumping is costing the city millions of dollars to clean up the mess left behind by residents and contractors. The city is encouraging residents to take advantage of free services offered by Recology Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate.

The San Francisco Police Department and the City Attorney's Office are also working to find those responsible for dumping construction materials in the Bayview-Hunter Point area.

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