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Posts tagged ‘Zero 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.

Catch Up With Utah Recycling Alliance

Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

Is going zero waste one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2021? Utah Recycling Alliance is here to help!  Utah Recycling Alliance (URA) has been encouraging Utahns to recycle more and reduce waste since 2011. The non-profit promotes reuse, recycling, and resource conservation through programs developed to engage and educate residents statewide.

This year, like many organizations, URA has moved much of their programming online due to the pandemic. However, they have stayed busy, and the organization is gearing up for exciting new projects in 2021. 

SLCgreen chatted with URA co-presidents David Johnston and Sarah Bateman to find out more about what URA has been up to in 2020. David and Sarah also filled us in on how you can get involved in building a zero waste future in the New Year!

The 3 R’s and Beyond

David, who is also the Permits Coordinator for SLCgreen’s Waste and Recycling Division, told us that URA started with a mission that went beyond recycling. “Although we’ve always been there to help Utahns around the state recycle in the right ways, many of what we now consider core programs are all about the other Rs” – including reduce, reuse, repair, and rot.  

Sarah, who is the founder of the City of Orem’s Natural Resources Stewardship Committee and a full-time mom, joined URA because of her passion for encouraging zero waste in Utah County. Prior to joining URA, she “felt somewhat alone in advocating a low-waste lifestyle.” However, URA connected Sarah to other zero waste organizers who were just as passionate about waste reduction and conservation. Sarah says that she is “honored to work alongside this well-educated and skilled team of volunteers, dedicated to reducing waste in Utah.”

The organization relies on volunteer support to operate their diverse projects, which connect businesses, individuals, and local governments that are committed to zero waste efforts.

CHaRMs and Fix-It Clinics

In the past few years, URA has helped Salt Lake City residents divert unusual waste (including toothpaste tubes, old electronics, shredded paper, and other things that aren’t accepted in the City’s curbside recycling program) in the CHaRM events.

The acronym stands for Collection of Hard to Recycle Materials, and the events help divert a considerable amount of waste each year. David notes that “in 2019 alone, with the help of more than 40 additional volunteers, URA was able to divert almost 5,000 lbs. from the landfill, accepting material for recycling from more than 1,100 attendees.”

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DIY Composting

By Salt Lake Valley Landfill Compost Marketer & Recycling Specialist, Zak Breckenridge

As we mentioned in our last post, compost is awesome! And when you put yard trimmings, leaves, vegetable and fruit scraps, and more in your curbside brown compost container, you’re engaging in one of the best forms of local recycling: Composting.

Municipal composting saves landfill space, reduces landfill greenhouse gas emissions, and maintains the local nutrient cycle.

About 30% of what we put in the trash could be turned into compost, which has a big impact on our community carbon emissions and our landfill space.

But what do you do if you don’t have access to curbside yard waste disposal?

Or, perhaps you prefer to skip the brown bin and make your own nutrient-rich compost for your vegetable, flower gardens, and lawn.

Whatever the case may be, today we’re focusing on at-home composting, which gives you the convenience of fresh compost right at home, plus all of the environmental benefits of putting your kitchen and yard waste to good use.

Of course, there isn’t only one right way to compost. While composting methods share the same basic principles, there are many factors to keep in mind. Read on to learn about the main composting techniques so you can decide what method will work best for you.

Compost bin
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Your Yard Waste Container: Get the Dirt on Compost

by Salt Lake Valley Landfill Compost Marketer & Recycling Specialist, Zak Breckenridge

It’s variably called the “yard waste bin,” the “brown can,” or the “compost container.”

Whatever name you give it, all Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling customers have the familiar brown can and use it to dispose of leaves, yard trimmings, small branches, grass, weeds, and other green waste.

It can also take your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags.

Salt Lake City’s compost container . . . aka “yard waste bin” aka “brown can.”

Today we’re taking a deep dive into the brown can. We’re (figuratively, not literally) getting down and dirty not only with what should and shouldn’t go in your bin, but also what happens to all of that “green waste” at its destination?

Welcome to the world of compost and why we’re so proud to have a commercial compost facility here in the Salt Lake Valley, which services Salt Lake City and many Salt Lake County curbside programs.

What exactly is Compost?

We all know that putting carrot tops and tomato stems in the compost is somehow better than putting them in the trash, but how do your food scraps and yard waste become a useful and valuable natural product that’s also better for the environment and better for our community?

Fresh compost
A BIG pile of Salt Lake Valley’s Certified Compost
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It’s Farmers Market Season!

Summer is here and along with it are the Salt Lake City area Farmers Markets. June 7th and 8th marked the start of another great summer of Farmers Markets with the Liberty Park Farmers Market on Friday night and the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday morning. The markets ushered in summer with everything from delicious food trucks to fresh heirloom vegetables to artisan dog cookies!

On Saturday, interns from SLCgreen tabled alongside farmers and vendors including Buzzed Coffee, Raclette Machine, Mamachari Kombucha, Volkers Bakery, and many more. Salt Lake City’s Farmers Market are a great way to support local growers; eat fresh, locally grown food; and to learn about sustainability projects in Salt Lake City.

SLCgreen Interns Linda Derhak and Atticus Olmedo tabling at the Downtown Farmers Market.
SLCgreen Interns Linda Derhak and Atticus Olmedo at the Downtown Farmers Market.

Support Farmers Markets

Salt Lake City supports community-based food production as a means of making fresh, sustainable foods more readily accessible.

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Should you use “compostable” disposables?

compostable disposables (1)It’s the New Year and you may have made it a goal to waste less and recycle more. That’s great!

A common question we receive here at SLCgreen is about so-called “compostable” or “biodegradable” disposables. 

What are they? Are they better than regular disposables? Can they go in the brown curbside compost can?

At first blush, they seem to offer a great solution–the convenience of single-use bags, plates, cups, and utensils — with a supposedly more environmentally-friendly footprint.

However, the truth is more complicated.

That’s because, as it turns out, these single-use ‘bioplastic’ products are just as bad for the environment as the regular single-use plastic products they were meant to replace.

So what is bioplastic? Read more

Salt Lake City’s Mitch Davis Recognized for Innovative Waste & Recycling Work

Ever wonder how Salt Lake City successfully diverts over 32,000 tons of material annually from the landfill?

It’s a big undertaking– involving operations, education, outreach, and policy. And our amazing staff are at the heart of it!

Today we’re thrilled to announce that one of our own, Mitch Davis, is being recognized nationally for his efforts by Waste360, a recycling trade group serving 90,000 professionals.

The Waste360 “40 Under 40” awards program “recognizes inspiring and innovative professionals under the age of 40 whose work in waste, recycling and organics have made a significant contribution to the industry.“

“This award is a great honor in the waste & recycling industry,” said Lance Allen, Waste & Recycling Division Director. “We are very proud of Mitch and what he brings to our team and community.”

Mitch started his career with Salt Lake City as an intern in 2008 while finishing up his degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Utah. His passion for waste diversion and public service has been the driving force behind the success of many of our waste diversion strategies ever since.

When Mitch started with Salt Lake City he wanted to, “make a difference.” Because of his hard work and dedication, he most certainly has achieved that goal! Here’s how: Read more

Salt Lake City Publishes Plan to Tackle Climate Change

ClimatePositvePrintout

Salt Lake City Publishes Plan to Tackle Climate Change and Carbon Pollution

Climate Positive plan prioritizes regional collaboration, community participation, and innovation to reduce pollution and enhance local resilience to warming temperatures.

 Salt Lake City has released a comprehensive plan entitled Climate Positive 2040, detailing ways the Capitol City will sustain its leadership role in addressing climate change.

Read more

The Sustainability Department is Hiring!

sanitation-director_12_1_16

Are you passionate about recycling and helping Salt Lake City divert as much waste from the landfill as possible?  Do you have management experience?

The Salt Lake City Sustainability Department is hiring a Program Director to head up our Waste & Recycling Division (formerly known as the Sanitation Division).

This position reports directly to the Sustainability Department Director, Vicki Bennett.

We are looking for candidates with operational experience and a broad vision to improve waste diversion including business and residential recycling, hard-to-recycle waste, recycling markets and green waste composting. Read more

Salt Lake City Searching for New Sanitation Program Director

Sanitation-Director

Salt Lake City is looking for a new Sanitation Program Director that will help the City achieve it’s goal of zero waste by 2040!

Apply at SLCgov.com.

Position: SANITATION PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Job Code: 001609
Job Bid: 150228
Department: Public Services
Salary: (031) $4,933.00 – $8,538.00
Close Date: 6/4/2015

Directs and manages the City’s operations for the Sanitation Program. As Program Director, incumbent is responsible for managing operations associated with the City’s recycling and waste collection programs, including but not limited to: curbside refuse, compost and recycling collection; neighborhood clean-up; enforcement and education; and container maintenance. Plans, develops and implements city-wide waste diversion and reduction policies and initiatives to meet the City’s goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040.

Position requires specialized knowledge of best management practices for waste diversion, sanitation operations and requires the knowledge and ability to address local challenges.

Plans for and directs operations associated with the delivery of citywide sanitation services, including: curbside refuse, compost and recycling collection; neighborhood cleanup; enforcement and education; and container maintenance programs. Develops and implements strategies for aggressively moving the City towards Zero Waste. Designs, implements, and monitors program including the implementation of best management practices, environmental stewardship, operating budgets, performance measures, personnel and equipment maintenance. Recommends and initiates process improvements, cost saving measures, operational efficiencies and other program changes necessary to achieve Zero Waste.  Directs the preparation and necessary adjustments to the program budget, including the support needed for updates and revisions to the annual budget document. Monitors and manages budget, resources, and financial transactions. Ensures appropriate processes, procedures, and policies are in place and followed for all financial transactions. Analyzes and develops program policies, goals, and objectives to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Creates strategic plans to support the policies, goals and objectives of the program. Resolves complex issues involving operations and environmental stewardship. Ensures operations comply with City, State and Federal regulations to protect the environment and ensure safe work practices. Presents the program’s policies and positions in meetings, negotiations, and communications with the public, citizen and industry groups, Mayor and City Council members, other government agencies, the media and other public forums within assigned area of authority.

Ensures employee productivity and effective use of resources by coaching, mentoring and training supervisory staff and building an effective team. Evaluates and documents performance of program managers and office staff, administers appropriate employee recognition and disciplinary actions. Develops technical specifications, project design and standards for procurement bids and proposals related to sanitation. Reviews bids and proposals and assists with the selection of contractors. Ensures contractor performance. Plays key roll establishing disaster and emergency preparedness program. Represents the department in public meetings and/or on various committees as directed. Performs other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications:

Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Business Management or closely related degree, plus six (6) years progressively responsible experience managing public programs including a minimum four (4) years in a supervisory capacity. A combination of six (6) years of directly related program and/or management experience may be substituted for the required education.

Thorough knowledge of materials, techniques, equipment, personnel management and best management practices associated with waste diversion, recycling, resource management, composting, and landfill operations.

Experience in budget preparation and administration, and ability to implement budget requirements into departmental operations.

Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with elected officials, department directors, employees, and the general public. Highly effective collaboration and communication skills.

Possession of a valid driver’s license or Utah driving privilege card, including the ability to travel between office and external locations.

Apply at SLCgov.com.