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Zero Waste's Two cart pilot program - thoughts?

Original post made by Michele, Greenmeadow, on Jan 28, 2013

We just got a postcard from the Zero Waste Palo Alto saying that our neighborhood is being considered for the new two cart pilot program. From what I can see this is condensing the current three carts into two. More sorting for us. One less trip for the trucks.

There is a meeting on Feb. 7 to discuss it but I have another commitment which I may try to change.

What do people think about this? Is it working in other parts of PA? Is it more Nazi Alto at work? Thoughts?


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Posted by Less sorting
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm

"From what I can see this is condensing the current three carts into two. More sorting for us."

Sounds like LESS sorting. Instead of using 3, there's 2. How is that more sorting?

What am I missing here?

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Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm

After looking at their website, it seems that the black cart will go away. What used to be in it (garbage) will be sorted by the homeowner. Food scraps and food soiled paper will go in a bag in the blue cart, I think it was, and non recyclable items will go in a bag in the green cart.

I'm not necessarily opposed to more sorting, just want to be sure there is an option for the stuff I do have to get rid of.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm


Here's a thread from a couple of weeks ago with many thoughts. You can peruse them at your leisure, but there are many things you may not have considered. From my recollection, there were more comments against the idea than for it. Web Link

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Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Thanks, Resident, I just read through all the comments. Some of my concerns were voiced. Not sure what I think of this "great" new idea. We currently put plastic bags in our trash cans in the house and also put the cat litter in plastic bags. I guess this would not be allowed.

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Posted by Pilot
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 29, 2013 at 8:48 am

I am ready to try this and hope my neighborhood is chosen. Hopefully it won't cost us more per month, but maybe it will. I'm willing to learn how to sort differently, even if it is more work for me.

Composting is important and I have not been successful composting at home so far. I feel guilty whenever I put food scraps in the garbage or in the disposal. When I visit a friend's home in San Carlos, I gleefully toss food scraps, napkins, etc. in her compost can and it's no extra work at all. This seems to work very well in other cities.

I would hope that if Greenmeadow is chosen, neighbors would support and help each other in order for the pilot program to be effective enough for a city-wide decision to be made.
If our neighborhood is not chosen to pilot the program, I would hope that folks in the chosen neighborhood would be on board with a willing attitude and open mind.

It's important for the pilot program to work well enough to lead to a clear decision as this goes forward.

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Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 30, 2013 at 12:48 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Michelle, you've got your cans mixed up. Green bin (think green leaves) takes compostables, with the food scraps and food-soiled paper in compostable bags added to whatever yard trimmings/weeds, etc you generate. Blue bin will be recyclables and trash, I don't recall if they want basic trash in a bag but probably not. Maybe icky trash like pet litter or diapers would go in a bag. As one of the city staffers said in the Council meeting where this pilot was approved, currently the waste collectors sort recyclables out of our trash, but with this pilot they will sort trash out of our recyclables. They're dropping the black trash-only bin to save money so that they hope they can add food compostables collection without raising costs. Remember that this is a pilot to work out the kinks, for residents, collectors, and sorters.

Composting food is really important to combat for global climate change, because food that goes to the landfill, buried in trash and starved for oxygen, breaks down anaerobically and released methane, which is 72 times more potent a Green House Gas than CO2 on a 20-year time frame. If food is composted instead, it just releases plain old CO2, which primarily came from the atmosphere in the first place as the plants or feed crops were growing. A third alternative is to generate energy from food scraps, in which case you are offsetting CO2 emissions from non-renewable power sources.

Maybe TMI, but: In that third case, depending on your energy generating technique, if it is anaerobic digestion you can compost the leftovers after you've got the energy out; if it's pyrolysis (a form of gasification), you can generate biochar which can sequester CO2 and improve soil fertility. Some other forms of gasification may leave nothing but inert slag.