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Posts tagged ‘sustainability’

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!

Home Energy Efficiency Tips for Utah Climate Week

It’s Utah Climate Week, which means that there are opportunities statewide to get involved with climate action in Utah.

But taking steps to help the environment can also start at home. Improving at-home energy efficiency will help you shrink your carbon footprint and save money.

Switching to high efficiency LED lights is a quick and easy way to save energy!

Why Energy Efficiency Matters

According to the EPA, around 40% of energy use in the United States is for generating electricity. Salt Lake City is working to move towards net-100% renewable electricity for the entire community by 2030. This means that more renewable energy will be fed into the grid, helping power everything from your lights to your phone chargers. But in the meantime, taking steps to improve your energy efficiency will go a long way to save energy!

SLCgreen’s Household Energy Actions Checklist outlines the ways you can save energy and money by taking small actions.

  • For example, switching to a low flow showerhead may seem simple, but it can help you save $18 annually and cut 250 pounds of CO2, not to mention the water savings.
  • Using a power strip to avoid energy vampires like phone chargers can help you save $96 per year and cuts 1,200 pounds of CO2!
  • And washing your laundry in cold water can save 1,270 pounds of CO2 annually and $92!

Reducing your energy use cuts down on emissions that contribute to global warming as well as local air pollution. As a result, energy conservation and efficiency can help build a healthier and more resilient community.

Resources & Incentives

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Celebrate the 5th Annual Utah Climate Week

September 26th to October 2nd marks the 5th annual Utah Climate Week! In Utah, we’ve experienced extreme heat, drought, and smoke from nearby wildfires all summer. Climate Week is an opportunity to work with local leaders to identify the impacts of climate change locally, and collaborate on solutions to ensure an equitable and resilient future for all Utahns.

Climate Week is organized by the Utah Climate Action Network, consists of local governments, non-profits, faith based organizations, businesses, and individuals who are working to build a more sustainable community. Each year, Climate Week gives us a chance to connect with each other and find solutions to the threat of climate change.

Climate Week Calendar in teal and green lettering.

2021 Climate Week Schedule

Over 50 organizations are participating in this year’s Climate Week with in-person and virtual programming across Utah. SLCgreen will be participating in the panel discussion on the Utah 100% Clean Energy Program on September 27th hosted by Sierra Club Utah. This virtual event will provide an update on the Utah 100 Communities‘ work to provide community-wide net-100% renewable electricity.

Utah Climate Week 2021 Transforming Utah's Energy landscape - Panel Discussion Monday September 27, 5:30-6:45pm.

Other events include a film on air pollution hosted by HEAL Utah, a panel discussion on managing business risk during climate change, and more. Check out the full lineup and register for these events on the Utah Climate Action Network’s event page.

Act On Climate

We need everyone’s help to Act on Climate in Utah and around the globe. There are many ways to take action, including investing in solar panels at your home, reducing your meat consumption, being mindful about energy use around the house, and finding ways to improve air quality like taking public transit or biking rather than driving.

Whether you’re a seasoned environmental advocate or you’re just starting out, Utah Climate Week is a chance to learn about the unique issues Utah faces as human caused climate change impacts our health, access to food, livelihoods, and communities. Participating in Utah Climate Week can help you find ways to Act On Climate all year.

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.

SLCgreen Welcomes Debbie Lyons as Sustainability Department Director

This summer, SLCgreen’s Debbie Lyons stepped into the role of Sustainability Department Director after the retirement of our long-time director Vicki Bennett. We are thrilled that Debbie will oversee the City’s goals to achieve 100% community renewable energy, reduce emissions connected to climate change, conserve resources, reduce air pollution, and improve community access to fresh, healthy food. Join us in celebrating Debbie’s new role with a look back at how her career has shaped Salt Lake City’s innovative programs and initiatives for over 25 years!

Photo of Debbie Lyons in front of garden in Washington Square.

Prioritizing Safety and Sustainability

After earning a degree in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety from BYU, Debbie started her work with Salt Lake City in 1995 as an intern with the Public Services Department. During her time as an intern, Debbie was instrumental in developing elements of Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling program that continue to have significant impacts, including the first City-wide curbside recycling and compost programs, the expansion of glass recycling around the state, and the City & County Building’s first office paper recycling program.  

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SLCgreen Thanks Director Vicki Bennett for 20 Years of Service

Vicki Bennett’s remarkable 20-year career with Salt Lake City Corporation reflects the changes in local and national work to protect the environment and act on climate. As director, Vicki has overseen SLCgreen’s work to reduce carbon emissions, improve city-wide waste diversion, support air quality initiatives, ensure that the City is prioritizing community sustainability, and direct equitable policies related to food security and energy. Under Vicki’s direction, Salt Lake City has become an internationally-recognized leader in sustainability.

After 20 years, SLCgreen’s beloved director is retiring. Vicki leaves an outstanding legacy, and she will be deeply missed by her friends and colleagues in the City. Her retirement gives us an opportunity to take a look at Vicki’s many accomplishments, and how our community has been shaped by her dedicated service.

Shaping Sustainability

Vicki became the Environmental Manager for Salt Lake City Corporation in 2001, a role meant to help regulate chemical use and reduce environmental pollution in the city. However, environmental work was quickly shifting towards addressing climate change. Vicki’s role expanded into sustainability, a field that connects equity and economic stability with environmental protection.

Thanks to Vicki, SLCgreen grew into one of the first sustainability departments in the country. As a Environmental Manager, Vicki served on Governor Huntsman’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change in 2007. During Mayor Ralph Becker’s administration, Vicki was placed in charge of a new Sustainability Division. SLCgreen eventually became its own department under Mayor Jackie Biskupski.

The realities of climate change became more and more apparent over that time. As a result, Vicki’s work shifted from climate mitigation to long-term adaptation and resilience. In the changing landscape of climate action, Vicki has continued to shape a vision of sustainability that supports the most vulnerable in our communities and activates our residents to participate in climate work on all levels.

Photo of Vicki Bennett in front of solar panels with a sign reading #ActOnClimate.
Vicki Bennett urges everyone to #ActOnClimate at the opening of Salt Lake City’s 1 MW solar farm.

Internationally Recognized

Vicki’s steady leadership and stalwart commitment to advocacy has positioned Salt Lake City as an international leader in climate action. Vicki’s legacy is one of collaboration and dedication to connecting with others in order to make positive changes.

When world governments called on countries to commit to emissions reductions in the Kyoto Protocol, Salt Lake City was one of the first cities to join. Examining energy efficiency and tracking carbon emissions was the first step in addressing Salt Lake City’s sustainability goals.

Vicki’s ability to connect with people locally and around the world has helped Salt Lake City focus on critical sustainability initiatives. In Utah, she is a founding member of the award-winning Utah Climate Action Network, a group dedicated to collaborating on climate action in Utah. Vicki also helped launch the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, an organization dedicated to “connecting local government practitioners to accelerate urban sustainability.”

Photo of Vicki Bennett with President Barack Obama.
President Obama and Salt Lake City Sustainability Director Vicki Bennett.
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2021 Lawn Mower Exchange: Swap Out Your Polluting Lawn Mower for an Electric Upgrade

THIS PROGRAM IS NOW FULL! THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION. PLEASE SEE LOWER PORTION OF THIS BLOG FOR A LIST OF FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.

Gas-powered mowers put out a lot of pollution! It might come as a surprise, but running a gas-powered lawnmower for one hour produces the equivalent air pollution of driving your car 196 miles. This pollution impacts public health, hurting our lungs and cardiovascular systems.

The EPA also estimates that lawn mowers account for 5% of the nation’s total air pollution! The good news is that switching to an electric mower is much cleaner. They’re easier to maintain and quieter to operate too! Improving air quality is why DEQ and Salt Lake City have partnered on the lawnmower exchange program.

Clean Air For All

Salt Lake City residents know that air quality is bad for our community’s health. Switching to an electric lawn mower is a small way that you can make a big impact on our air quality.

Salt Lake City wants to help lead the charge to electrification. Now is your chance to get a new electric lawn mower and say goodbye to your gas-guzzling mower for good. Residents who would like to exchange their old mower for an electric upgrade will receive a $300 rebate. Don’t have a lawn mower? You can still get a $150 rebate on the purchase of a new electric mower without a verified trade-in.

For Salt Lake City residents on government assistance, there will also be opportunities to get a mower for free. 

There are 2,500 slots available to Wasatch Front residents on a first-come, first-serve basis with 1,000 of those funded by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall just for Salt Lakers.

Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling team will even pick up your old lawnmower from your home as part of this exchange program.

Registration Opens April 5 at noon

Starting at noon on April 5, residents along the Wasatch Front can register to participate in the lawn mower exchange.

To qualify for the exchange, please remember the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Residents must be 18 years or older to participate
  • Only one rebate will be issued per household
  • Value of rebate will not exceed value of electric mower
  • Taxes and fees not included in rebate
  • Receipts must not predate 2/25/21

Prior to recycling their old mower, residents who want to participate in the exchange will need to empty their lawn mowers of gas and oil and take this household hazardous waste to the Salt Lake Valley Landfill’s Household Hazardous Waste drop-off area.

If you just have oil to dispose of, but no gas, you can take it to one of the many locations which accept used oil.

For more information visit lawnmower.utah.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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e2 Business Highlight: Tracy Aviary

Salt Lake City’s e2 Business Program is a free consulting and marketing program for Salt Lake City businesses run out of the Sustainability Department. The program is dedicated to helping Salt Lake’s business community run in a more environmentally and economically sustainable manner. We take pride in recognizing the achievements of our members! If you are interested in joining the program or browsing current members, please visit our e2 Business webpage.

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Tracy Aviary, one of the nation’s only free-standing aviaries, will be marking its 83rd anniversary this year. Over the past decades, the iconic landmark in the heart of Liberty Park has become a leader in environmental education and conservation.  

Tracy Aviary goes above and beyond their work with bird conservation, emphasizing local ecosystem conservation efforts through community science programs, as well as participating in critical global species conservation work. Moreover, Tracy Aviary has been taking steps towards reducing their own environmental impact.

Photo of front of Tracy Aviary Visitors center with lights shining behind copper metal façade.

A longtime member of the e2 Business Program, Tracy Aviary has marked several sustainability milestones such as the addition of 18kW of on-site solar energy, as well as a 67% recycling diversion rate. One recent achievement is in realizing their 2018 goal of reducing energy consumption by more than 10% in 2019 and 2020.

“Reducing our energy consumption and focusing on sustainable energy is one of the ways we can make the biggest impact when combating climate change. Slowing climate change not only helps native birds, who are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, but all the plants and animals we share our ecosystems with.

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Salt Lake City Recognizes Business Leadership in Energy Efficiency

Image of  a trolley car parked in an outside urban space with written text in a blue banner below that reads "Elevate Buildings Congratulates Trolley Square Ventures: 2020 Energy Project of the Year."

January 28, 2021

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability is pleased to announce Trolley Square Ventures has won the 2020 Energy Project of the Year as part of the City’s annual Elevate Buildings Award

The Elevate Buildings Awards is the Sustainability Department’s public recognition campaign honoring organizations that have gone above and beyond to reduce their emissions through innovative programs and efficiency upgrades. One of the key priorities of Mayor Mendenhall’s administration is to lead the way on environmental resilience and sustainability and improving the impact that our buildings have on air quality is a major part of the City’s environmental goals. 

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2020 Year In Review

Happy New Year!

2021 is here! SLCgreen is excited to move forward. But as we prepare for the year to come, we’re also ready to incorporate what we’ve learned from 2020.

At the beginning of 2020, SLCgreen was eagerly preparing for a new administration and planning for a year of innovative sustainability projects. After a busy 2019 we were ready to take the next steps towards bringing net-100% renewable energy to our community. A new state-of-the-art recycling facility was near completion. And an innovative resident-led food equity program was convening to help improve food access in Salt Lake City. 

The challenges of the past year have been harrowing. Within the first months of 2020, Salt Lake City pivoted our work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We experienced an earthquake that damaged our homes and businesses. Hurricane-force winds toppled thousands of trees and left many members of our communities without power for several days.  

Despite it all, SLCgreen was able to accomplish many of our goals with the help of our dedicated crews and community members. The challenges our community faced in 2020 laid bare the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and  climate action. The year required us take more direct actions to improve our emergency response plans, to better support the voices of residents who have been excluded in the past, and to expand our communications to facilitate more collaborative work.  

SLCgreen is ready to build off of what we learned during the past year, but before we set our sights on 2021, here are a few highlights from 2020. 

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