Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Recycling & Waste’ Category

We’re Dreaming of a “Green” Christmas

The holiday season can be a time of joy, time spent with friends and family, gift giving, good food, and rewatching our favorite comfort movies.  It’s also a time when thinking about and acting on sustainable alternatives is important! 

Holidays bring about plastic and paper waste, increased travel emissions, food waste, and the never-ending debate over plastic versus real trees. Check out some our tips for navigating this holiday season as sustainably as possible! 

Shop local: 

We’ve talked about the importance of shopping local for our food, but shopping local for gifts is also important! Keeping our shopping to our local, small businesses helps support the local economy. Additionally, shopping locally minimizes carbon emissions because travel is minimized for consumers and purveyors.  Supporting small, local businesses also helps to sustain our town centers and can help reduce sprawl and automobile use

Food waste: 

Food waste is a major issues even outside of the holiday season- about 40% of all food produced in the US never gets eaten.  This amount increases by an additional 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years! Here are a couple of easy ways to minimize your food waste: 

  • Plan a head! Figure out your menu ahead of time and plan for the amount of people who will be attending your event. Try and plan foods that you will enjoy eating as leftovers or can repurpose into other dishes (like turkey soup, curry, or sandwiches!). Consider doing more plant-based options for an increased impact! 
  • Compost! Any of the raw fruit and vegetable scraps created in the cooking of your delicious feast  can go into your compost bin to be turned into compost for you to use during the next planting season! Learn more about composting in SLC here
  • Send people home with leftovers! Tell your guests to bring their own to-go containers to help you eat through any remaining leftovers. 
Read more

Salt Lake City partners with local artists to create six original pieces for new refuse trucks

PRESS RELEASE: July 22, 2022

Large-scale public art is rolling through Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods thanks to a recent City initiative that invited local artists to use City refuse trucks as their canvases. 

The seven new waste and recycling vehicles are wrapped in vinyl prints of original works by local artists Trevor Dahl, Matt Monsoon, and Brooke Smart. 

“These works of public art will travel Salt Lake City’s streets every day, reaching every corner of the city,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “I’m thrilled these vehicles, which provide such a critical utilitarian purpose, can also spread beauty to residents in all our neighborhoods.”

The artists were chosen from the Salt Lake City Arts Council’s pool of local artists with whom the City works on a number of public arts projects, from sculptures to murals to street art and more. Each artist created two original designs.

“We take pride in our trucks—and in the graphics we put on them,” said Sophia Nicholas, Sustainability Department Deputy Director. “Each year, we brainstorm a new creative campaign and work with a graphic designer to bring it to life. It’s been a fun and effective way to spread the word about things like ditching disposables, choosing reusable bags, the importance of recycling overall, and now, sharing art by local artists.”

The City’s fleet of 37 refuse trucks collect the trash, recycling, and compost from approximately 42,000 sites every week, hauling the waste from all areas of the city to the landfill or appropriate recycling facilities. Each truck travels approximately 300 miles each week.

“We know that almost any object, place, or space has the potential to serve as a canvas for the incredibly talented artists of our city, including the sides of a refuse truck!” said Taylor Knuth, Deputy Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council. “The Arts Council hopes that residents and visitors of Salt Lake who see these trucks will not only enjoy these captivating works by local artists, but also take action to protect our unique, beautiful, and vibrant landscapes.”

Read more

Choose to Refuse! Plastic Free July is here!

If you’ve been looking for the sign to finally make the change, now is the perfect time to drop those pesky single-use plastics once and for all – Plastic Free July is here!

Plastic Free July began as a small project based in Australia but has turned into a global movement of people who are committed to cutting out single-use plastics from their lives to stop plastic pollution and save the planet. “Plastics” refers to a wide range of synthetic materials that can be molded and shaped into a variety of flexible and stiff byproducts. Believe it or not, there’s plastics in our chewing gum, skin care products, and even our clothes!  

Since 2011, Plastic Free July has empowered consumers to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics by sharing educational resources and encouraging people to come up with creative ways to reduce plastic usage at the source, reuse any plastics that can be used more than once, and properly recycle what can be recycled! 

Why is Plastic Free July Important? 

In 2021, the planet reached a total estimated number of 363,762,732,605 pounds of plastics across all the oceans. Plastics are one of the most prevalent pollutants across the globe, polluting waterways, habitats, and damaging the health of ecosystems and humans alike. Many durable plastics will take up to 400 years before they will breakdown.  

While recycling has helped make a dent in our plastic waste, the overarching goal is to reduce consumption.

Some plastics, like laundry detergent containers and milk jugs, are highly-desirable plastic products for recycling. However, other items like straws, plastic bags, and other flexible packaging, are harder to recycle, and often end up being a burden to consumers trying to properly dispose of them. Making some easy switches to eliminate unnecessary plastic waste at the source is an amazing way to start building a world without plastic waste and practice sustainability. 

(We recognize that the problem of plastic waste is not just a consumer issue; in fact — it’s much more systemic and related to the way corporations make products and the laws governing those practices. This is why Salt Lake City has signed on as an activator to the U.S. Plastics Pact. But while we work for larger, systemic change, we can also take matters into our own hands as consumers and reduce single-use plastics, where possible, in our own lives).

How Can I Participate in Plastic Free July?  

One of the easiest ways to get involved is to take the Plastic Free July Challenge! By registering for the challenge, you’re joining a community of people who are committed to reducing plastic pollution. You will also receive email updates with tips, tricks, and stories to help you keep your plastic free promise. 

Read more

How to Have a More Sustainable Fourth of July

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

The sun is shining and inviting us outside for barbecues, picnics, and other festive get-togethers.  

As the focus of our minds shifts to friends, food, and outdoor recreation, it can be easy to lose sight of sustainability and air quality. In the winter, it’s hard to forget about air quality—it’s right in front of us during inversion episodes.

However, summertime can bring a different kind of air pollution. High temperatures, bright sun, and  some holiday celebrations bring about their own slew of risks to our air quality.

Not to despair! The summer months provide the perfect opportunity to revisit our time-tested sustainable practices and learn about new ones. With that in mind, let’s learn how to celebrate a sustainable and clean Fourth of July! 

We’ll talk about air pollution, fire risk, alternative celebrations, food, and minimizing plastic waste. Read on!

Fireworks and Air Pollution

Fireworks, while a fun celebration, unfortunately, produce pollutants that contribute to poor air quality. This includes: coarse particulates (PM10) and fine particulates (PM2.5).  

The pollution can grow disturbingly high in the 12 hours immediately after Fourth of July and 24th of July celebrations—higher than we would see on all but the worst wintertime inversion days. 

High levels of particulate matter pose health risks to children, older people, and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of respiratory and lung health and how vulnerable our health can be. The particulates that fireworks release have impacts on health, including but not limited to: triggering asthma attacks, acute bronchitis flare-ups, increased vulnerability to respiratory illnesses, and even heart attacks and arrhythmias for those with heart disease. 

Fireworks Restrictions 

Of course, fireworks can also pose a wildfire risk during our persistent drought. Salt Lake County is currently categorized as a D3 – Extreme Drought Zone.  For this reason, the Salt Lake City Fire Marshall has banned the use of fireworks in certain areas of the city.  

To stay up to date with the current firework restrictions, check out the Salt Lake City Fire Department webpage containing the most recent regulations and information, including a map of areas of Salt Lake City where firework use is prohibited. Violating a “No Firework Zone” may result in a fine of $1,000 

Laser Light Shows 

Sheesh—with all the impacts of fireworks, you may wonder what else you could do to celebrate the Fourth and 24th in a way that does not create air pollution, risk wildfire, nor pose safety hazards (not to mention the stress that fireworks can cause to some veterans, pets, and young kids) 

Salt Lake City went through the same thought process. 

That’s why this July, Salt Lake City will NOT be hosting the traditional 4th of July and 24th of July fireworks shows at Jordan Park and Liberty Park.

Instead . . .  

Read more

International Compost Week 2022!

Did you know that last week was International Compost Week? This year’s theme is Recipe for Regeneration: Compost which means focusing “on the crucial role recycling our food scraps and yard trimmings plays by creating compost, which when added to soil results in a recipe that makes our food more nutritious, the air we breathe cleaner and our climate healthier overall.” Last week, from May 1 – May 7, we celebrated everything compost!

Composting is the most local form of recycling. By taking our food scraps and turning them into compost at our local Salt Lake Valley Landfill and then returning them to our yards and gardens to produce healthy and beautiful plants, we create a closed loop! The landfill is located at 6030 W. California Ave. (1300 S.), Salt Lake City , UT 84104 and is open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 5pm. If you have questions, you can contact the landfill at 385-468-6370.

Why Compost?

Prevents soil erosion- Composting prevents erosion by binding soil together, increasing infiltration, and slowing the surface flow of water.

Manages stormwater- Compost helps to control water flows on and through soil, thereby proving to be a capable tool for stormwater management.

Promotes healthier plant growth- Compost balances soil density, adds and retains nutrients, and discourages disease, pests and weeds.

Conserves water- Compost retains and efficiently transfers water through the soil, allowing surrounding plants to maximize water for growth. This in turn saves you money by minimizing the amount of irrigation you will have to provide to your project!

Reduces Waste- Compost is generally made from waste (food scraps, yard waste, organic byproducts, etc) that is diverted from landfill flows. This reduces the amount of waste going to landfills and it upcycles those materials into a productive, environmentally beneficial product.

Combats climate change- Composting cuts down on greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and makes ecosystems more resilient to rising temperatures. .

Reduces project management costs- Compost promotes healthy plant growth, thereby reducing mortality and subsequent replacement costs. Additionally, compost promotes drought resistance which lowers artificial irrigation costs.

Improves soil health- Compost adds nutrients and soil biota, and improves the biological, chemical and structural health of soils.

Read more

Be a Recycling Champion! Sign up for SLC’s 2022 Master Recycler Program!

Become a champion for reducing, reusing, and recycling in our community!

Are you interested in the ever-changing landscape of recycling?

Do you want to learn why composting is an integral part of waste diversion?

Have you always wondered why glass is recycled separately in Salt Lake City?

Or wanted to learn how to effectively promote recycling practices within your community?

Salt Lake City Green is excited to announce the 2022 Salt Lake City Master Recycler program! Register now at SLCMasterRecycler.com.

Applications will be accepted through Monday, April 4th (unless we fill up sooner).

This FREE program provides in-depth education about recycling, composting, policy and solid waste management for Salt Lake City community members and professional sustainability practitioners.

Master Recyclers touring the recycling facility (aka a MRF site.)
Master Recyclers touring Momentum Recycling.

The Master Recycler program gives participants a behind-the-scenes look at Salt Lake City’s waste management system from bin to the recycling plant.

Participants are required to attend two “core” classes, Waste and Materials Management I and II, which include tours of the Salt Lake Valley Landfill, Waste Management’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF), and Wasatch Resource Recovery’s anaerobic digester!

After finishing these two classes, participants choose a minimum of four additional electives, and two hands on activities (however, they can take up to 6 electives and 3 activities) from a variety of options, like; Compost 101; Food Waste with Wasatch Resource Recovery; Business & Multi-family Unit Recycling; Glass Recycling; Policy Making 101; and Living a Zero-Waste Lifestyle.

Read more

Check out the SLC Sustainability 2021 Year in Review!

Happy New Year!

How is it already mid-January already?! We’ve been busy here the last two weeks on projects for the new year which we’re excited to share with you.

Before that, we’re taking some time to reflect on 2021 and all of the work we accomplished with your support. It’s also an important time to take stock; learn from the experiences we had in 2021; and continue to improve our programs, services, and operations.

Every January, we release a Year in Review with our high-level accomplishments as well as priorities for the year ahead. Below are a few highlights. Make sure to check out the full document for more!

Read the full 2021 Year in Review here.

Saying Goodbye to Team Members and Welcoming New Ones

In 2021, SLCgreen certainly felt the impacts of the “Great Resignation.” We said goodbye to Food & Equity Manager Supreet Gill and welcomed Brian Emerson. In the spring, we parted with the founding director of our Sustainability program, Vicki Bennett, who led our team for 20 years and is also recognized around the country as a leader on these issues.

With Vicki’s retirement, Debbie Lyons stepped up to be Sustainability Director and Sophia Nicholas moved from Communications Manager to the Deputy Director role. We also toasted Shannon Williams, Special Projects Assistant, who moved on to an exciting new role in a new state; while welcoming Bimini Horstmann who hails from Boston (with a stop over at Davidson College) and has a passion for rock climbing and environmental science. And, for the first time, we have a dedicated air quality manager position, filled by Catherine Wyffels who joined our team in the summer. She has brought a wealth of insight and expertise to our department. (See blog).

It didn’t stop there! We gave Gregg Evans, our Financial Manager, to the Public Lands Department (luckily he didn’t go far) but were thrilled to welcome Angie Nielsen to our team in the critical accounting role for our department. Finally, December closed out with Max Barnewitz– the “voice” behind the SLCgreenblog and so many of our outreach functions– moving on to an exciting position with Art Access.

We are proud of how our staff, both seasoned and new, integrated into a cohesive and energetic team tackling a variety of projects this past year.

At the beginning of 2021, the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and climate action were clearer than ever due to 2020’s challenges. It set an important focus for our work last year:

Air Quality, Energy Efficiency, & Electrification

Even with more people than ever working from home in 2021, wildfire and inversion seasons still occur. We developed many new programs and engaged with the public to address these issues from an equitable as well as a scientific lens. Additionally, SLCgreen continued strong efforts to move city departments towards electrification and improve energy efficiency. Some notable achievements in the air quality, energy efficiency, and electrification realms include:

Read more

Going Green for the Holidays!

We can hardly believe it, but the holidays are here! This is a great time of year to support Salt Lake City’s efforts to build a more sustainable and resilient community.

Climate action is on all our minds following COP26, which brought world leaders together to create a pathway towards climate action. While the work internationally must be done, everyone has a part to play and small, locally driven climate action can add up to make change. So as you gear up for the holidays, we have some helpful reminders for ways you can be more sustainable!

A holiday greeting graphic shows the Salt Lake City and county building at center with the words Happy Holidays written over the top. Colorful fall leaves and shapes adorn the sides and the SLCgreen logo is at bottom.
Read more

October 14th is International E-Waste Day!

Electronic Waste (also known as e-waste) is one of the fastest growing waste streams. It may come as a surprise, but it is estimated that in 2021, 57.4 million tons of e-waste will be produced worldwide. Unfortunately, only 17.4% of that waste, which can contain harmful as well as rare materials, is expected to be properly recycled. Statistics like this are why the WEEE Forum, an international group dedicated to developing best practices for managing waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), created International E-Waste Day.

Join SLCgreen in commemorating International E-Waste Day on October 14, 2021 by learning more about e-waste and how to properly recycle these materials.

International E-Waste Day October 14, 2021. Graphic shows a photo of a yellow bin filled with e-waste that is superimposed with a teal transparent filter. A small pink, yellow, and blue graphic shows different broken electronics next to the banner text. The SLCgreen logo is in the lower left corner.

What is E-Waste?

E-waste includes any electronic items– from cell phones to televisions– that have reached the end of their functional lives. A broken cell phone or smartwatch might feel like junk, but it is full of many precious materials such as gold, silver, copper, and lithium, that can be refurbished or recycled! Moreover, if not properly handled, electronic components can be hazardous. Electronic components often contain heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, and beryllium; PVC plastic; and other harmful chemicals.

Managing e-waste can be dangerous when not taken to the proper facility. Besides making your data an easy target if old phones or computers wind up in the wrong place, e-waste can also pose a threat to the health of waste management workers. By taking care to properly dispose of your e-waste, you can protect yourself and others while also putting valuable resources to good use!

What to do with E-Waste in Salt Lake City?

Navigating all the options for proper household waste management can be tricky. Luckily, if you live in Salt Lake City, there are many ways to recycle your e-waste:

  • Call 2 Haul: Salt Lake City residents can schedule a bulky waste pick up once a year through the Call 2 Haul program. Call 2 Haul will pick up bulky items that don’t fit or belong in your weekly curbside containers including e-waste, and make sure that the materials are properly handled and correctly diverted.
  • Salt Lake Valley Landfill Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off: The Salt Lake Valley Landfill accepts hazardous waste materials including e-waste, paint, oil, gasoline, antifreeze, batteries, propane, fluorescents, and chemicals in the Household Hazardous Waste drop off.
  • Specialty Recycling Services: Some businesses and specialty recyclers are able to accept e-waste for recycling and disposal. Check out our Specialty Recycling Services page for more resources for materials that don’t belong in your recycling or trash.

Whether you’re clearing out old tech, or just upgrading your phone, take the time to dispose of your e-waste safely. Remembering to recycle e-waste will help protect the environment from harmful chemicals and can save valuable resources for reuse!

In honor of International E-Waste Day, share this information with your networks to spread the word about what to do with electronic waste!

Salt Lake City Joins the U.S. Plastics Pact

by SLCgreen outreach coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov

As part of SLCgreen’s goal to reach zero waste by 2040, Salt Lake City signed on to a new initiative, the U.S. Plastics Pact. The Plastics Pact affirms SLCgreen’s commitment to a circular economy for plastics, which envisions that all the plastics used by our community will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable, so that they stay in the economy and out of the environment.

What is the U.S. Plastics Pact?

The U.S. Plastics Pact brings together government entities, businesses, nonprofits, research institutions, and other stakeholders in a common vision of a circular economy for plastics (check out the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiative for more information!). Having a diverse group of organizations sign the pact ensures that the problem of plastics can be tackled at every level where issues arise, collectively.

This vision aims to ensure that plastics never become waste by eliminating the plastics we don’t need, innovating to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulating all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.

By joining the U.S. Plastics Pact, activators agree to deliver the following four targets:

  • Target 1: Define a list of packaging that is to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025
  • Target 2: 100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025
  • Target 3: Undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging by 2025
  • Target 4: By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%

While these seem like lofty goals, before now, there has not been a convening organization in which large corporations, municipalities, waste processors, and partners come together to tackle the problem. We’re particularly hopeful because some significant global packaging and consumer companies are participating.

Photo of SLCgreen Waste & Recycling truck, with a banner that reads "SLC recycles or compots 40% of our waste. Let's do more."

Salt Lake City’s Zero Waste Resolution

Signing the pact is part of Salt Lake City’s Zero Waste Resolution, in which the city adopted “Zero Waste as a guiding principle for all city operations and for outreach and actions within the community” and set the ambitious goal of eliminating waste by 2040. The Climate Positive 2040 plan, which followed the resolution, provided a roadmap to reaching zero waste. The City’s goal is to reach 50% diversion rate in the next several years, with a 70% diversion goal by 2025.

What are we doing to get there?

Salt Lake already has a number of innovative programs in addition to our curbside recycling program to ensure we meet our ambitious goals.

If going zero waste is one of your long-term goals, Utah Recycling Alliance offers resources including pop-up CHaRM events, and fix-it clinics. And although Plastic Free July has already passed this year, you can apply the same plastic free tips to implement the circular economy on a smaller scale in your own household.

Check out the full guide to what you can recycle in Salt Lake City’s curbside program here (don’t forget, you can recycle plastic bags and films and many grocery stores) and remember, reducing and reusing are the first two steps to zero waste, before you even start recycling! As the last step on that chain, containers you put into your SLC bins are recycled in North America and turned into new plastic products, keeping them in use.