WASTE MANAGEMENT IN SAN FRANCISCO
The First People all over the world did not waste and in a sense were the pioneers of Waste Management as we know it today. Here is San Francisco we have been fortunate that the larger logistics, operations, customer service, billing have been in the jurisdiction of such companies as Norcal Waste Systems, Inc., Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling Company and Sunset Scavenger Company and other smaller companies.
The whole operation of recycling brings to the fore thousands of small stakeholders that gather cardboard, paper, aluminum cans, bottles, palates, and a host of other designated non-toxic material that can be sold at many centers in San Francisco. The larger ones take metal scrap such as Cir-Costa is situated in the Bayview Hunters Point area.
There are entities that take in construction material and other large amounts of debris and this area requires careful monitoring. Some entities do a good job and others lack the fundamentals of following the rules and regulations. One such entity that has let the public down is Specialty Crushing situated at Pier 94 on San Francisco Port Authority jurisdiction. Monique Moyer what are you doing about this situation?
Mayor Gavin Newsom is of the opinion that here in San Francisco the Department of Public Works (DPW), San Francisco Environment, and many other smaller City Departments have their act together. It is very easy to utter the words green, compost, waste, dirt, sustainable and so on but very difficult to put a plan together to practice and follow sustainable and what is more practical waste management plans. Plans on the City level lack Accountability and full Transparency.
Very soon the major entities linked to Waste Management will submit an application to the City and County of San Francisco. This initial application will offer suggestions, ideas, a vision to better the Waste Management collection, fees, and what is more create a friendly relationship among all commercial accounts, residential accounts, and those entities that have a stake in general matters like DPW and SFE. It is critical that a small Task Force be created to gather information to fully understand the details that go into making any Waste Management work with all stakeholders having a say but more realistically understanding the Main Objectives of Waste Management. It is critical that this Task Force be diverse to reflect the population of the City or else it will fail.
The main objective is to send zero waste to the landfills. We all understand that we should respect Mother Earth just like the First People did before some strangers came to California some 250 years ago. Before that for thousands of years the land as we know it in all of California and the Bay Area was pristine. Habits must be formed and the affected population should be educated by genuine participation.
For the last 150 years we have been discarding material and for the last 60 years the waste generated knows no bounds. In the interim we destroyed and polluted large tracts of landfill because many of us did not use discretion and sent toxic material many a time under the guise of clean material. The Environmental Protection Agency rules and regulations were enforced only in the 1980s.
Here is San Francisco and the surrounding area many of us have no knowledge that all the land belongs to the Muwekma Ohlone the First People of the area. The land was stolen when 18 treaties signed by the United States Government were not ratified. Years later when this fact was revealed to the present United States government the government reneged and still continues to exercise dubious excuses rather then face the true facts. Time to put the First People on the Federal Register and given them their land back.
I bring this to the notice of everyone because if the Ohlone were in charge of the land, the land would have been treated with respect. We would have had better equity when it came to wetlands, marshland, animals, birds, and other plants, birds, and fish that live healthy and increase when the right elements are in place. We would not have crooks like Literacy for Environmental Justice and some others mostly Whites raking in money from grants pretending to understand green. We have polluted most of San Francisco by building too many buildings. Much of San Francisco is landfill and the landfill was created by depositing waste. One has to study the huge area downtown, Mission Bay, large areas around the Marina, in the Southeast Sector much of what one sees around Main Post Office and beyond is landfill.
Further down on the way to the San Francisco airport and closer to San Francisco is all landfill. It was common some 80 years ago for carts and trains to take garbage and other waste material and dump it around Brisbane. Even today many developers are afraid to build homes around Brisbane because they fear the unknown that lurks below the landfill may show its ugly face.
Recently we had an episode that San Francisco and Mayor Gavin Newsom will not learn from, the closing and cleanup of Toxic Park in San Jose. How are we dealing with Heron's Head Park at Pier 98, a toxic dump for all practical purposes and what is more next to the old toxic spewing power plant that is very dangerous to all living beings. We have Dana Reid Lanza that brags that over 6000 of our school children have been taken to this toxic dump at Pier 98. Come on San Francisco and Mayor Gavin Newsom wake up!
Waste is generated by the people that inhabit a given area. Today in San Francisco we have a population of about 760,000 and growing. A million plus when so many come to work in our City. All of them generate waste. We have those that live in apartments and condominiums. Those that live in homes all over San Francisco and those that generate waste from the various institutions and hotels in San Francisco.
To date we do not have empirical data as to the stable population of San Francisco mostly living in the apartments to gather stable information from sources of waste generated and linked to this population A stable population is prone to learn good recycling and waste management practices. The same can be held true for Commercial Businesses and large institution that generate thousands of tons of waste. Today we have the latest technology to gather waste and more to separate the various components of waste materials. Large conveyor belts and other methods using the latest technology aid those in the Waste Management Business to make life better to the human beings that work in the given environment. All this cost money and million of dollars at that.
Norcal Waste Systems, Inc. has led the way by buying vehicles that use Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and this saves money but can be hard on maintenance. The technology is developing and soon we hope that we can have vehicles that run on very clean fuel maybe solar.
In the processing of waste less pollution is sent into the air and land. The curtailing of particulates is not easy. Contemporary methods of using chemicals and detergents without much thought all find their way to the landfill and garbage dump.
Waste Management Companies have gone out of their way to work with the SF Port Authority to collect hazardous materials and oil wastes. All this cost money because Hazardous Materials have to be gathered carefully and involve high risks.
Again and again mindless folks will place dangerous chemicals in receptacles that clearly indicate non-toxic materials. We do have good constituents but the few bad ones can make life miserable. A gallon of some dangerous cyanide can pollute a large lake. The same with a landfill or an area where dangerous toxic materials goes unintentionally.
To date we have not done meaningful outreach to our diverse population and enforced certain laws and regulations linked to littering, dumping and other adverse affects that are a health and safety concern.
Our City talks the talk but fails to walk the walk. The so called inspectors that we hire are constantly fired and if they do write some tickets is takes years to collect the fines. The fines amount to thousands of dollars. If collected these fines can pay for the salaries and more, do justice to the program. Looking at this program and hearing the pleas of these employees before the SF Board of Supervisor, one wonders if this City is really into Zero Waste Management and Sustainable Practices.
We have NO data of the many trips that DPW trucks make to the dump sites. How many of them go to the dump sites with half empty trucks and having no consideration for the waste of fuel. We need to have a realistic picture of the thousands of tons taken to the dump sites and the thousands of gallons of fuel used to create a realistic picture of our City that prides itself on being Green and aiming for zero waste.
We all know that there is a lot of waste linked to the Department of Public Works. It is not uncommon to see DPW trucks and those that drive them waste their time in areas that they think others do not see them. This must stop.
It is paramount that we look at the San Francisco Environment a City Department that has been audited by the Controller's Office and found to hire too many useless folks with an Administrative Budget that defies Accountability and Transparency. When over 58% of the fiscal expenses are related to Administrative Expenses some stinks in Denmark.
Also the San Francisco Environment is involved with Waste Management, Greening, Integrated Pest Management and a host of Environmental Issues with little or no expertise. Very little diversity among its employees and a lot of dog and pony shows as was exhibited during the recently concluded World Environment Day which was a fiasco in terms of proper outreach, mission objective, general objectives and fulfilled time lines.
The rate increase has hired a White woman; I have never seen her before. She now has the responsibility to gather the facts and created the forum to dialog, listen to the stakeholders (I consider myself one), and help in the formation of the just and fair rate increase if ever. The Garbage Industry is now called Waste Management just a fancy word for what is always was-garbage. Archeologists, Anthropologists, Sociologists and others will tell you that we can gather a lot of information from the so called garbage we discard. Of course in the old times there was less toxic but now that is our concern. We are a wasteful generation with little care for Mother Earth and very materialistic.
There is E-waste now and soon there may be another category. Our landfills are filling up fast and the less we throw away the better. We need incentives but more a vision that brings all the stakeholders as partners. It is always easy to say I am for recycling or waste management but another to make a habit to send as little as possible to the landfill.
This is the first of a serious of article that I will write to address Waste Management.
Landfill in San Francisco
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