BioCycle February 2011, Vol. 52, No. 2, p. 6
COOL 2012 Workshop In New Jersey
The COOL 2012 Workshop at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown, New Jersey, originally scheduled in mid-January, will be held on April 5th. COOL, Compostable Organics Out of the Landfill, was launched in 2008 by the GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN), BioCycle, EcoCycle and Hidden Resources. The workshop in April is cosponsored by USEPA Region 2 and GRRN. After an overview of the COOL campaign, speakers will address the organics recycling and composting history in New York and New Jersey as well as the current state of diversion, what other regions are doing to advance food waste composting, and new directions being pursued in the region. The workshop closes with a group discussion on “Creating A New Regional and State Organics Recycling Boom.” To register, contact Priscilla Hayes at Priscilla.email@example.com. A donation of $20 is requested to cover lunch and facilities costs.
True Cost Of Food Waste
Americans represent five percent of the world’s population but generate 30 percent of its trash. The individual American throws away about 197 pounds/year of food, which collectively amounts to over 100 billion pounds – roughly enough food to end hunger in 1.7 billion people. American Wasteland (Lifelong Books, 2010) by Jonathan Bloom, a free-lance journalist and founder of the blog www.wastedfood.com, chronicles how we waste food from farm to fork, examines the impact of our squandering and offers solutions to the problem. Identifying sources of waste and reexamining food sustainability in today’s culture, Bloom spreads the blame across all wasters – farmers, foodies and kindergarteners alike.
American Wasteland offers practical everyday solutions that we can adopt immediately. At home, these include preventing freezer burn, resisting the urge to maintain a full refrigerator and shopping strategically, e.g., making a list and sticking to it rather than impulse buying what’s on display, shopping for produce last so as not to compromise its shelf life, not shopping on an empty stomach, avoiding bulk and two-for-one deals when the excess food will likely go bad and being realistic about one’s eating habits and ability to prepare food at home. Bloom is a Boston native whose resume includes produce clerk, McDonald’s employee, farm worker and employment with a food recovery group as well as a catering company. This varied perspective on the food industry gives him a unique insight into why nearly half of the food produced in the U.S. ends up in the landfill or rotting in the field. Bloom will be presenting at the BioCycle Global Conference in a session on Food Recovery (see pp. 18-21 in this issue for complete agenda).
Recyclemania Competition Underway
RecycleMania is a college campus based competition that runs from February 6 to April 2, 2011. Activities to promote recycling on individual and institutional levels include: more than 600 participating colleges and universities competing for the chance to win a portion of 50,000 recycling bins; one dollar donated toward a $50,000 grant for recycling programs for every download of a sponsoring entity’s recycling app; recorded webinars that reach more than 400 members of the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC), NGOs and other community-based groups with insights into recycling different waste streams; and campus displays outlining best practices for recycling as schools compete to see who can reduce, reuse and recycle the most waste. The event is sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation and coordinated by Keep America Beautiful. In 2010, 607 participating colleges and universities collected more than 84.5 million pounds of recyclables and compostable organics over the course of the 10-week competition, thus preventing the release of 137,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.
Growing Green Jobs
A new “Many Shades of Green” report shows that California green jobs continue to outpace aggregate job growth three to one, even in the wake of a recession. This emerging “Core Green Economy” now accounts for 174,000 jobs in California, according to Next 10, a nonpartisan think tank founded by venture capitalist and philanthropist Noel Perry. The report states that the recent growth of green jobs has been similar to that of software jobs since 2005. “The green job data is significant because these jobs are growing in every region across the state, outpacing other sectors, and generating business across the supply chain,” said Perry. “While green job numbers are modest relative to the overall economy, there are very few business sectors in a state as large as California that employ people across every region. The emergence of this vibrant Core Green Economy can be attributed to California’s history of innovation as well as our forward-looking energy and energy efficiency policies.”
“Many Shades of Green: Regional Distribution and Trends in California’s Green Economy, 2011″ was released at an event at Siemens Industry’s rail vehicle manufacturing facility in Sacramento. Siemens recently won a $466 million contract to build 70 electric locomotives in California, requiring 200 new jobs over the next three to four years at a factory that operates mostly on two megawatts of solar power. These positions are in addition to the company’s 150 employees hired in the past two years to meet the demands of America’s burgeoning light rail transit market. “Many Shades of Green” provides a comprehensive accounting of California’s green economy, tracking the most recent available data on employment, business establishments, location and growth across every green sector and region of California. Collaborative Economics, an economic research and consulting organization, prepared the report for Next 10. View the full report at: www.next10.org/next10/publications/green_jobs/2011.html.
Massachusetts Rolls Out Climate Action Plan
Between 2007 and the end of 2010, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed or scheduled for installation in Massachusetts increased twentyfold, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020. Jobs in solar manufacturing, installation and services nearly tripled and installed wind energy projects increasing by a factor of 10. In that same time period, according to the report authored and released by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (OEEA), Massachusetts launched the most aggressive energy efficiency program in the country, with estimated savings of over $6 billion for residential, municipal, industrial and commercial customers and 4,500 jobs sustained or created.
The state’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008 requires the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish a statewide limit on greenhouse gas emissions of between 10 percent and 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, on the way toward an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050. Fulfilling that mandate will allow the Commonwealth to address a number of challenges in addition to climate change. The report points out that Massachusetts is at the end of the energy pipeline, figuratively and literally, with all fossil-based energy sources – oil, natural gas and coal – sourced from other regions of the country (e.g., the Gulf Coast or Western states) and world. Thus all spending on fossil fuel energy – whether for power plants, buildings or vehicles – flows out of state and fails to provide income to in-state businesses or employees. This exported economic value totaled nearly $22 billion in 2008, the same year that the average Massachusetts household spent around $5,200 for energy costs. About $1,700 was for heating (including water), $1,300 for electricity, and $2,200 for gasoline. According to the report, almost all of these expenditures leave Massachusetts. In addition to the economic drain, energy consumers have experienced wild price swings and long-term energy price increases. Reducing fossil fuel use and developing local and regional green energy options will both help meet the goals of the climate plan while providing Massachusetts residents more economic security.
Recycling Rates On The Upswing
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) released results of its 2010 Community Recycling Survey, which shows that 87 percent of the U.S. population has access to curbside and/or dropoff paper and paperboard recycling programs. “We are encouraged that this rate has held steady through the global recession and population growth that have occurred since the last survey was conducted in 2007,” said AF&PA president and CEO Donna Harman. Paper recycling access was an important factor in helping the industry exceed its 60 percent recovery goal three years ahead of schedule. In 2009, a record-high 63.4 percent of the paper used in the United States was recovered for recycling. The AF&PA Community Survey is a comprehensive national study that measures and tracks the growth of access to community-level paper and paperboard recycling in the U.S. The 2010 study is the latest in a series of such studies funded by AF&PA and conducted by R.W. Beck since 1994. Other key findings include: 63 percent (193 million people) have access to curbside recycling programs while 68 percent of the populations (213 million) have access to drop-off recycling programs. The survey also found continued growth in curbside recycling programs employing single-stream collection systems. To learn more about the 2010 AF&PA Community Survey, along with AF&PA recycling programs, resources, and statistics, visit www.paperrecycles.org.
City/County Sustainability Survey
Recent data collected from more than 2,100 cities and counties demonstrates how energy conservation and green planning are being slowly integrated into local municipalities’ daily practices. The survey released last fall by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), indicates that while communities across the nation are increasingly conscious of sustainability issues, many localities are still at the beginning stages of turning green-focused priorities into concrete actions. The Sustainability Survey 2010 is the first to establish benchmarks for sustainability initiatives in local government. “While there is near shared agreement in the desire to create more sustainable communities, putting goals into action is a larger challenge,” says Tad McGalliard, ICMA’s sustainability director. “This survey helps ICMA better understand where the issues are in implementing sustainability as a strategic priority and certainly will guide us as we create new knowledge resources, partnerships and other support for local governments.” To download the survey results, go to www.icma.org and search on “Sustainability Survey.”