Protesting pirates demand change from local company

WISC-TV News 3 Madison

Velena Jones

Original story here


Pirate costumes are not what you would expect to see at a protest, but it’s something Texas protest organizer Andrew Dobbs hopes will help get a message across.

“We want people to have fun with it always, but we also hope that people know even down in Texas we are working to make sure that Madison-area companies are held accountable,” Dobbs said.

Over two dozen environmental protesters from Texas and Madison came together to bring a message to Spectrum Brands. The company is a sponsor of Madison’s Clean Lakes Festival and the parent company of Rayovac, a Middleton-based battery company.

“Rayovac admits themselves overseas that throwing batteries in the trash is harmful to the environment and a waste of resources. Over here they tell people to throw their batteries in the trash. We want them to be consistent,” he said.


It’s a message other protesters want the Clean Lakes Alliance to support.

“We are all about clean lakes, but we think that if you are going to sponsor a festival called the Clean Lakes Festival, you should own up to the pollution and do everything you can to reduce and prevent the pollution,” Madison protester Maria Powell said.

Officials with the Clean Lakes Alliance said while they respect the protesters’ message, their demonstration took away from the mission of Saturday’s Clean Lakes Festival.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that an out-of-state group would pit one environmental issue against another and really hijack a local event,” said Elizabeth Katt-Reinders, director of policy and communications at the Clean Lakes Alliance.

The alliance started four years ago. Katt-Reinders said the group hopes to tackle other environmental issues in the future, but are currently focused on accomplishing one main objective, reducing phosphorous.

Despite mixed perceptions of protesters’ demonstrations, their message did not go unnoticed. Dobbs said their efforts started a discussion with the company he hopes will continue.

“Through our pressure they have agreed to support legislation, but they still have not agreed to tell people to recycle their batteries,” Dobbs said.

Spectrum Brands’ ties with Clean Lakes Alliance prompting festival protest

Capital Times
Jessica VanEgeren
Original article here

The connection between Spectrum Brands, the maker of Rayovac batteries, and the Clean Lakes Alliance is prompting a protest Saturday at one of the Clean Lakes Alliance’s biggest annual fundraisers, the Clean Lakes Festival.

The protest, coordinated by the Texas Campaign for the Environment, is being held to apply pressure to Middleton-based Spectrum Brands to create a process or actively promote legislation that allows people to recycle rather than throw away their alkaline and rechargeable batteries.

Rayovaction Boat“We need to call them out on this double standard,” said Robin Schneider, an activist with Texas Campaign for the Environment. “They are providing recycling for people in Europe and Canada, but not in the United States, its home country.”

According to Schneider, rechargeable batteries contain highly toxic materials and alkaline batteries can corrode landfill liners, allowing other toxins to more easily pollute soil and groundwater.

Spectrum-Rayovac has been the target of environmentalists since it pulled out of discussions in 2011 with Energizer, Duracell and Panasonic to create a national single-use battery take-back program. Efforts have stalled since then.

Spectrum is a prominent supporter of the Clean Lakes Alliance and one of its main fundraising events, the Clean Lakes Festival.

The Saturday demonstration will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., beginning at B.B. Clarke Beach on Lake Monona, with participants then moving to the site of the Clean Lakes Festival in Law Park, near Monona Terrace.

Protesters plan to be dressed like pirates, with some scheduled to be in boats on Lake Monona with banners criticizing Spectrum Brands for Rayovac’s poor recycling record.

“We looked at the report card for the Clean Lakes Alliance. It talks about water clarity, temperature and phosphorus, but they refuse to address toxics in the lakes,” Schneider said. “There is a toxic legacy in Madison lakes and many different toxic issues this organization will not address.”

Dave Lumley, Spectrum’s chief executive officer, is a staunch supporter of the Clean Lakes Alliance, a Madison-based organization created in 2011 with a goal to clean up Madison’s lakes. A major goal of the group is to cut the amount of phosphorus in the polluted lakes in half by 2025.

Lumley was a keynote speaker at the Clean Lakes Alliance’s Save Our Lakes community breakfast in April. Event attendees pledged $40,000 to the nonprofit.

Lumley never chaired the clean Lakes Alliance board, as the environmental activist incorrectly stated, but he was on the 32-member community board until 2012 and is still listed as a 2014 community board member on the Clean Lakes website. But Don Heilman, executive director of the Clean Lakes Alliance, said in an email Monday that Lumley hasn’t attended a meeting in two years.

“Our focus is on cleaning up the lakes with the primary goal being the reduction of phosphorus entering them,” Heilman said in an emailed statement responding to news of the protest. “We are grateful for the support Spectrum Brands has given to these efforts.”

Another top Spectrum executive, Stacey Neu, is on the 2014 Clean Lakes Alliance executive board. Neu is the company’s vice president of human resources.

Heilman deferred all environmental questions related to battery recycling to David Pritchard, a Spectrum-Rayovac spokesman. Pritchard did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

“We think we need to hold Spectrum accountable for its ongoing pollution and the pollution that is coming,” Schneider said. “It will not take responsibility for the end of life of its products.”

Another protest is planned for 4 p.m., Friday, at Spectrum’s Middleton headquarters. Activists have 25,000 letters from consumers requesting it recycle its batteries, which activists will attempt to deliver to company executives.

They also will be chanting at workers leaving for the weekend, while hoisting a 90-square-foot banner featuring a skull and crossed batteries to represent a “toxic” symbol.

Progressive Dane and the Midwest Environmental Justice Organization also will be participating in the protests.

Houston Faces Opposition to One Bin Trash Plan

Environmental Leader

Original article here

unobinoHouston’s One Bin for All trash plan, touted by the city as the next evolution in recycling, may be facing some opposition by a coalition of groups who do not agree with the program’s proposed environmental value.

Houston’s One Bin for All plan would allow Houston residents to place all trash, recyclables, and compostables in one bin, which it says would provide for a much higher rate of resource recovery.

The city cites the goals of the project to include significantly increasing diversion and decreasing the amount of waste sent to landfills, allowing all residents to simply put their discarded materials into one bin (excluding heavy trash, e-waste and household hazardous waste), protecting air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by organic materials in landfills, stimulating community interest in and responsibility for reducing, reusing and recycling, and creating jobs.

However, Zero Waste Houston, a coalition including Texas Campaign for the Environment, Sierra Club Houston Regional Group, Houston Peace and Justice Center, and Dr. Robert Bullard, a founder of GreenAction, have come together in opposition to the city’s plan. On July 10 they plan to release a report titled “It’s Smarter to Separate,” at a press conference near Houston City Hall.

Zero Waste Houston asserts that gasification has never worked on trash in the US, and that it creates air pollution similar to more traditional mass burn incinerators. They point out that single bin technologies have never achieved the 75 percent recycling rate sought by the Mayor’s plan because of high contamination rates.

The group is proposing that Houston instead adopt a single-stream approach, expanding the use of large green bins for each home and focusing on education to improve recycling over time. The group also points out that other cities are implementing zero waste plans successfully.

Houston’s One Bin for All plan was the winner of a $1 million prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Mayors Challenge, a contest rewarding innovation in American cities.