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Archive for the ‘Waste Management’ Category

The Eco|Angeleno has just heard word that  the City of LA is in the process of drafting an ordiance establishing a city-wide “Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy.”

According to a reportand draft ordinance delivered to the RENEW LA Ad Hoc Committee:

“The new EPP (Environmentall Preferable Purchasing Policy) would promote the use of environmentally preferable products in the acquisition of goods and services by establishing factors to consider, such as the pollutants associated with the product, the waste generated, recycled content, energy consumption, depletion of natural resourcesand potential impact on human health and the environment.” 

In the draft ordinance itself, it explains that the key factors that will be considered in selecting products include pollutant releases, waste generation, recycled content, energy consumption, depletion of natural resources and potential impact on human health and the environment.” The ordinance also seems to push the city to take an even more proactive approach towards CREATING MARKETS by mandating the City to “seek opportunities to enhance markets for environmentally preferable products through employee education; encourage pilot testing of potential new products; adopt innovative product standards, specifications and contracts; and embark on cooperative ventures with other jurisdictions.”

This is good news for Green product manufacturers, a great step in the right direction for the city. Now, we’ll just have to trust our new controller Wendy Greuel to make sure we don’t bust our budget on this.

To see a more extensive list of criteria considered under the program, you can view the draft ordinance here: LINK

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G.M. at 100: Is Its Future Electric? – NY Times (Me Wanty a Volt!)

Tapping Power From Trash (Of the landfill/methane sort) – NY times

Products derived from natural, nontoxic ingredients — once seen as fringe — are now mainstream. – LA Times … Commentary: This movement, in my opinion, is a bi-product of the internet revolution (a connection rarely talked about). With consumers having greater access to information, as well as products from around the globe, consumers can be more selective, and quickly learn about the benefits of one product over another. Instead of going to the local store to buy whatever they’ve decided we should be buying, we can go online, and buy products with almost perfect information. So when we have two computers for the same price, one that requires a ton of energy, and one that is energy efficient, (or one that polluted the earth in it’s assembly more than another) the consumers choice is simple. While this commentary is maybe outside the scope of this article, I think it is important to keep our eyes open as to the broader impacts on consumer activities in the internet age. I wonder, what will be next? Will we eventually revisit the “buy local” or made in the USA craze from the 80’s? Increased product customization? Only buy from companies who practice “responsible” corporate policies? Only use banks that avoid subprime lending markets? It should be interesting…

Federal inquiry could delay clean-trucks program at ports of L.A. and Long Beach – LA Times

Palin asks Schwarzenegger to veto fees aimed at cutting pollution at California ports – LA Times

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[Originally published by the Los Angeles Daily News.  http://www.dailynews.com/editorial/ci_9812232]

By Ruth Galanter

Who can explain why Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Department of Water and Power keep telling us to use less water and electricity, but the city continues to permit “water features” in new development?

Check out trendy shopping centers, new hotels and office developments, and even the Port of Los Angeles.  Everywhere you go, there’s a pool or a fountain with water evaporating under our famous sunshine.

Yes, I know, “it’s all recycled.” Hogwash. Some of it evaporates, some of it spills and dries up, and the rest is pumped around by – you guessed it – the very electricity we’re supposed to conserve.

There is something wrong with this picture, but there is no good excuse.

Sure the permits go through the Planning Department and the Building and Safety Department, while the water and power issues go through the Department of Water and Power. But isn’t our “environmental” mayor in charge of all of these? Isn’t our commitment to conservation and sustainability a commitment by the city of Los Angeles, not just an isolated department here or there?

The Department of Water and Power itself has open-air pools surrounding its downtown headquarters. I’ve been told for years that those pools are necessary for cooling something, but surely they too could be protected from excess evaporation or at least used for cooling ambient tourists’ sore feet.

What kind of message are we sending when we talk conservation of water and electricity – indeed threaten financial penalties for overuse – but then display running water all over the neighborhoods?

It’s the same kind of doublespeak as when the members of the City Council said they had to have the city supply them with hybrid cars or else they’d have to use their personal SUVs. If they want the rest of us to purchase hybrids instead of SUVs, why can’t they do the same? At their salaries, they can certainly afford to put their personal money where their mouths are.

City zoning and building regulations already include all kinds of requirements, such as height restrictions, side-yard setbacks, and the minimum number of wall sockets in each room of a dwelling unit. I’m particularly proud of the city ordinance that requires low-water-use toilets in all single-family residences, an ordinance that occasioned much snickering when I introduced it, but turns out to save an incredible amount of water and to have revolutionized the manufacture of toilets.

The city has come a long way since that ordinance. So why is it that we still permit outdoor “water features”?

As a practical matter, eliminating this wasteful use of water and power requires that someone from the City Council introduce a proposed ordinance, and in today’s climate that may require that someone from the Mayor’s Office instruct a compliant council member to take the lead. One phone call would probably do it. Maybe two phone calls; one call to a council member requesting that she/he introduce a proposal for such an ordinance and another call to the director of planning requesting cooperation. That’s not so hard.

Wise use of resources is a wonderful and achievable goal, but it does require plugging loopholes and using our collective head. Exhorting city residents and businesses to use less water and power is a useful activity, but wise leadership leads by example as well as exhortation.

It’s time for the city to get with its own program.

Ruth Galanter is a former member and president of the Los Angeles City Council, on which she served for 16 years.

Originally published by the Los Angeles Daily News.  http://www.dailynews.com/editorial/ci_9812232

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Last Saturday, June 21, 2008, the KCRW show Good Food interviewed Elizabeth Royte, author of Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It. Ms. Royte discussed drinking water’s commercialization, tap water and the environmental impact of plastic water bottles.

With 50 million plastic water bottles consumed annually and with sales of bottled water continuing to increase, it is important for us to examine the costs associated with our drinking water, including our distribution system and local water supplies. In addition to the tremendous waste associated with bottled water, the amount of water used in the production of bottled water is 3 times the amount sold, and the amount of oil used in bringing bottled water to market is 1 quarter per every liter sold. Bottlemania’s website provides links for information on water testing, filters, and groups fighting to protect municipal water supplies.

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Laptop Magazine recently highlighted the recycling policies of major electronics manufacturers and retailers.  Some manufacturers and retailers will graciously recycle old and unused electronics equipment (including notebook computers, cell phones, computer monitors, etc.), while some charge a fee to recycle gadgets that would otherwise end up in the trash.  However, a few others are offering store credit for products returned to their stores.  These policies should be promoted and definitely taken advantage of. 

 

The Laptop Magazine article inspired us to take a look at the issue of e-waste and we found that the seriousness of this issue and the government responses has spawned an entire e-waste industry.  In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that we generated 1.5 billion pounds of all kinds of e-waste in 2006. This includes an estimated 44 million computers and televisions. Certain components contain materials that cannot be recycled or make them hazardous. If these items are disposed in landfills or, worse, dumped illegally, potentially toxic components may contaminate ground water or pollute the environment.  In addition to the local environmental problems, human rights organizations have highlighted international health issues and economic problems associated with e-waste.

 

Recent technological advancements provide manufacturers with less toxic material choices and more cost-effective ways to recover electronic circuitry and associated equipment.  As a result, according to the Electronic Waste Recovery Business “the worldwide market for electronic waste will rise at an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of 8.8% from $7.2 billion in 2004 to $11 billion in 2009.” (more…)

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