Victoria County sewage sludge dumping dispute officially ends

ABC 25 Victoria
by Adrianna Garcia
Original story here

A two and a half year process has finally ended with a settlement agreement where Victoria County Commissioners stopped a land owner from receiving a permit to dump hazardous products on their land. Commissioner Clint Ives calls this a victory for Victoria County.

On Monday, County Judge Ben Zeller made this agreement officials, where he signed the settlement document.

According to County Commissioner Clint Ives, Victoria County Commissioners took an aggressive opposition to this permit, and took years of town hall and  TCEQ meetings to try and stop this process. The land applicant decided to no longer pursue The permit to land apply the grease and grit trap waste.

With this agreement, it doesn’t allow land application to these experimental products on any land in Victoria County.

The commissioners argued with the proximity of the Arenosa Creek from the potential dumping location,this  could bring health and safety concerns to the residents of that area.

“Victoria County achieved everything we were asking for, and gave up no ground. Personally, I think this is such a victory for Victoria County. number one, we stuck to the tactical mission of protecting our priority which is protecting the public health and welfare of our residents in Victoria, and this settlement does that, said Ives.

Precinct four County Commissioner Clint Ives, says the public’s health and safety were their top priority, which they achieved with this settlement.

Ives explained this settlement saves tax payers the cost of a contested hearing, which is where this case would have gone without the agreement.

He says this agreement sets a precedent for the rest of Texas if another company wants to apply for a similar permit.

Commissioners says this is a triumph not only for Victoria, but for the state of Texas.

Dallas could force apartments, offices to offer recycling

Dallas Morning News
By Tristan Hallman
Original article here

Dallas City Council members don’t want to waste any more time waiting for apartment complexes and businesses to offer recycling programs.

With a unanimous vote Monday, the council’s Quality of Life Committee directed city staff to draft an ordinance within the next two or three months that would mandate recycling programs for multi-family properties. The committee members also want city officials to look at mandating recycling services for commercial properties, but the timeline on such an ordinance was fuzzier.

The committee’s strident push for mandating recycling programs at apartments came a year earlier than a previous timeline called for and after council members reviewed data on the lack of voluntary participation from apartment complexes.

“We call ourselves a well-managed, cutting edge city. A growth city. Lots of new business. Dallas is on fire,” said council member Rickey Callahan. “Well, we need to get on fire with recycling.”

The decision was met without stiff pushback from the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas — which wants to see more details — and with backing from environmentalists such as Trammell S. Crow, the son of the famed late Dallas real estate developer.

“We need strong leadership,” Crow said at a Monday morning news conference. “We need it at the top level.”

Dallas has offered recycling services for single-family homes for years as the city tries to divert recyclable materials from landfills. Commercial property trade associations say the majority of their members are now offering single-stream recycling programs. And hotels are making progress, city officials said.

But apartments have been a recycling wasteland. Danielle McClelland, the city’s Zero Waste program manager, told the City Council’s Quality of Life Committee on Monday that voluntary participation among apartments has “not gone as well as any of us would have hoped at this point.”

Less than a quarter of apartment complexes in Dallas — which house more than half of the city’s residents — offer recycling services. The Apartment Association of Greater Dallas gave a variety of reasons: cost, lack of interest from residents and management and a shortage of space for big blue recycling bins.

Corey Troiani of the Texas Campaign for the Environment said the apartments “haven’t made a good-faith effort” to offer recycling.

The need for apartment complexes and commercial properties to participate is simple, McClelland said: “That’s where the people are.”

The council was due to consider mandating recycling programs in 2019, according to its Zero Waste Plan. But Dallas has been falling short so far on its zero-waste goals, and the situation didn’t figure to improve in the next year.

An ordinance, which would have to be approved by the full City Council, could mandate recycling programs for new construction and phase in existing apartments according to size. Other cities, such as Austin and San Antonio, only mandate recycling for apartment complexes with a certain number of units.

But those minimums are relatively low — five or more units in Austin and three in San Antonio — and Dallas could go a different route. Most of the complexes in Dallas have more than 200 units, and the city could start with mandates in those complexes first and work their way down to smaller complexes during the following years.

Apartment Association of Greater Dallas Executive Director Kathy Carlton said Monday she knew the mandate could be coming. She wants to work with city staff to address some of the potential pitfalls, such as easing parking space requirements to free up space for recycling.

“We more are concerned with some of the devil in the details,” she said.

Council member Philip Kingston said he felt past excuses from apartments didn’t hold water. He said he wants to see “the strongest possible mandatory recycling ordinance.”

But city officials have plenty of other questions to answer. How do they handle the differences with commercial waste? Can the city’s brand-new recycling facility can handle a major increase in materials? Should the city eventually mandate recycling of certain materials? Will the changing market for recycled materials support the stepped-up efforts? What if people still choose not to recycle even with the programs offered? And what will be the added costs for renters already pressured in recent years by rising rents?

White Rock council member Mark Clayton said there may be some reasonable concerns, but “at some point, you just got to tell people, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”

“It can’t be a, ‘We’ll-get-around-to-it-in-10-years’ approach,” he said.

Lucas city council reinstates curbside recycling

GreenSource DFW
By Minnie Payne
Original Article here

Curbside recycling is returning to Lucas, thanks to a grassroots campaign led by an environmentally conscious resident.Last April, Lucas resident Victoria Howard was shocked to read in the Lucas newsletter that the city would end curbside recycling in the fall. Not wanting to see the community take a step backward, soon Howard was leading a grassroots campaign to reverse the decision with help from two Dallas-based environmental groups.

“The idea of not having a recycling program so frustrated me that I didn’t see any other option than to act,” said Howard. “I couldn’t have lived with myself if I did not try. I knew I may not win, but I had to try.”

As a result of a months-long campaign, last Thursday, the Lucas City Council authorized City Manager Joni Clark to negotiate an agreement with Republic Services for a subscription-based solution for curbside recycling, allowing recycling pick up twice per month.

But Howard and her group Save Lucas Recycling say that’s not enough. Howard says that while the council responded with unanimous voting to reinstate a one-year contract subscription recycling program for residents who opt in, it is her goal to have city-wide recycling for the Collin County community of 6,500.

“We would also like to see curbside brush composting, Styrofoam recycling and perhaps even a soft textile recycling program brought to Lucas,” Howard says.

With cities across DFW expanding their recycling programs, Lucas should be doing more, not less, to divert waste from landfills, she said.

“It is really unacceptable to me that in 2017 and 2018 the legitimacy and necessity of curbside recycling would be called into question,” said Howard.

At the first council meeting she attended last spring, Howard’s impression was that very few council members were taking her argument seriously. So she started a petition. Her intent was to change council members’ perception and convince them how serious and necessary curbside recycling is in keeping local bulging landfills from overflowing as Lucas’ population grows.

Many volunteers joined her to help canvas door-to-door. The campaign also got a boost from Corey Troiani, DFW program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment; Jared King, president of the Lovejoy High School Environmental Club; and Dick Guldi, Dallas Sierra Club.

Guildi says that Howard’s hard work in enlisting others resulted in a successful resolution.

“She worked all day every day until midnight, and I think the canvassing reached every home in Lucas,” said Guldi. “Hundreds of emails were forwarded to city council members, and 78 people were in the audience at the January 2018 council meeting.”

Guldi also shares that in his opinion Lucas City Council members are genuinely concerned about the environment and while they have good ideas, those ideas need to be better communicated, which is sometimes a difficult task.

“Lucas residents got the impression that council either wasn’t going to resume recycling or couldn’t make a decision as to how to do it and didn’t have a sense of urgency.”

Howard, whose Mom was a recycler, has lived in Lucas most of her life, remembering gravel roads and men who tipped their cowboy hats. She loves Lucas and the people of Lucas and says she couldn’t have led the successful campaign without them.

“To the countless people who helped with Save Lucas Recycling, I say there are no words to adequately express how much I admire you. You have my truest thanks.”

Dallas Leaders Want Mandatory Apartment Recycling

NBC News 5 DFW
By Ken Kalthoff
Watch the story here!

A mandatory apartment recycling ordinance could be the law in Dallas within three months after orders from a Dallas City Council committee Monday. Commercial buildings could also be added to the waste recycling program this year.

“It’s time to really get started in a very aggressive way to get something done,” said Councilman Rickey Callahan.

Currently, Dallas only requires recycling to be available for single-family homes with service the city provides. But more than half the city’s residents live in multi-family rental buildings. A few years ago the city hoped that landlords would offer recycling on their own, but less than 25-percent of the 2,000 or so multi-family property owners have done so, according to city officials.

“Sooner than later I’d like to bring this back with some kind of ordinance,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Gates. “I think at this point, just waiting for voluntary compliance, we’ve done that long enough and we can move forward.”

Other large Texas cities, including Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin, have required multi-family and commercial waste recycling for years.

“Gosh, I hate being behind Austin on everything,” said Councilman Mark Clayton. “We say we can’t do it, and then they do and they’re still thriving.”

Landlords have said it requires extra space on properties that were not designed for recycling. The extra collection will add expense for property owners, and tenants must be educated.

“We are ready to join with the city, and we know this is an important issue. Our biggest concern is how do we get over the details,” said Kathy Carlton, with the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas. “You have a lot of residents that aren’t really into recycling and so they don’t care very much about how they sort their materials.”

Sanitation Director Kelly High said Monday that the city’s McCommas Bluff Landfill near Interstates 20 and 45 may have only 35 years of space left. The city of Dallas’ long-term goal is “Zero Waste” to the landfill.

“This is not crazy. It has been done in other places. The city of Los Angeles is close to 80 percent diversion,” Councilman Philip Kingston said.

Council members Monday said they want to move forward with apartment recycling first but also want to include recycling for commercial buildings this year.

“And I think what we saw today was a major victory for the entire city of Dallas, for the citizens, who want to be better stewards of the environment,” said Corey Troiani, with Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Who wins in the new recycling deal? Houston.

Houston Chronicle
Guest Op-Ed by Rosanne Barone, Texas Campaign for the Environment

A Waste Management employee sorts through paper at the Gasmer Recycling Center Friday, June 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle ) Photo: Michael Ciaglo, Staff / Michael Ciaglo

HOUSTON — Mayor Sylvester Turner was right when he said the city’s newly approved recycling contract is a “win for Houstonians and the environment.”

After months of negotiations at City Hall, on Jan. 10, the City Council approved a 20-year single-stream recycling contract with Spanish resource management company FCC to replace the current Waste Management deal which is set to expire next year.

A new sorting facility will be built, and, when it’s completed in 2019, Houstonians will again be able to put glass in our green curbside bins, as well as single-use plastic bags, helping to keep them out of storm drains until we decide to live without them altogether.

But this decision is about more than just a new place to put our bottles, cans, cartons and paper. It’s about demonstrating that we are a society interested in healthier ways of existence. As a society, we can continue to remind each other, and the next generation, that there is no such thing as throwing trash “away.” Far too often, “away” ends up in our bayous, our rivers, our bays and our gulf.

And it’s about employing every option to decrease the amount of material going to landfills. That might be what we’ve always done, but in reality it is not a dependable solution for managing what we don’t use. Ask anyone who lives next to the McCarty Road landfill in northeast Houston, Greenhouse Road landfill near Katy or the Blue Ridge landfill in Fresno, who cite problems with windblown trash, noxious odors, methane gas releases and drainage ditches flowing with landfill “discharge.” Or ask someone who lives near one of more than 50 landfills in Texas that are leaking toxins into groundwater monitoring wells.

Landfills of today are the toxic dumps of tomorrow, contributing in the meantime to the illusion of “throw it away.”

It’s about becoming accustomed to the types of practices that are better for us in the long run, choosing reusable because it’s wiser and renewable because it’s safer.

It’s just something we have to do as we work towards to a more equitable city, where our exposure to air pollution, toxic-waste sites and roadside trash isn’t determined by our ZIP code. Recycling access remains a basic service for those of us who live in houses, so why not for those who live in multifamily buildings, 40 percent of Houston’s population? Not only should we have recycling wherever we live, but also where we work and go to school.

The new contract is both a tangible and symbolic commitment to the simple improvements that support a cleaner environment, while increasing our revenue and making the city more efficient. In Houston, the city is “the environment” — a paved, flood-prone, palm-treed, World Series-winning mix of distinctive, history-making innovation. Last year challenged us in many ways, and now in 2018 we are off to a running start on building a more sustainable future. I can’t wait to see what we will do next.

Rosanne Barone is the Houston Program Director for the Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Bookmark Gray Matters. It never ends up in our bayous, our rivers, our bays or our gulf.

Curbside glass recycling to return to Houston in 2019

Houston Chronicle
By Rebecca Elliott

Waste Management employees work quickly to remove non recyclable materials from a conveyor belt filled with recyclable garbage Thursday November 20, 2014 at the Waste Management Recycling Facility in Southwest Houston, TX. (Billy Smith II / Houston Chronicle) Photo: Billy Smith II, Staff / Â 2014 Houston Chronicle

Waste Management employees work quickly to remove non recyclable materials from a conveyor belt filled with recyclable garbage Thursday November 20, 2014 at the Waste Management Recycling Facility in Southwest Houston, TX. (Billy Smith II / Houston Chronicle)

HOUSTON — Houston residents are set to have their used glass and plastic bags picked up for recycling at curbside, but not until next year.

The 20-year, $37 million agreement City Council approved Wednesday is the product of two years of wrangling over recycling and positions Houston to pay less per ton to recycle.

Houstonians still have to wait another 14 months before putting bottles or bags in their green curbside bins, however, while the city’s chosen contractor builds a new processing facility.

 To bridge the gap, the city plans to renegotiate its existing, costlier recycling agreement, which expires in April.

“From a financial point of view, it is a much better deal for the city of Houston,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said, praising the deal with the Spanish firm FCC. “In terms of technology, it meets what our needs are and what we have asked for.”

Recycling has been a source of contention since Turner took office two years ago, when plunging commodities markets made recycling more expensive.

To address longer-term recycling needs, Turner last June brought forward a 20-year, $48 million proposal from FCC.

However, fierce criticism of the procurement process led the mayor to seek a new round of offers.

FCC again came out on top, this time with a cheaper proposal: Houston would pay a maximum of $19 per ton to process recyclables in a weak commodities market, and would recover a larger share of the revenue if prices for recycled material improved.

Still, some council members questioned the city’s evaluation processes, which put FCC on top even though other firms argued they would have been ready to process materials sooner and cheaper.

At-large Councilman Mike Knox reiterated some of those worries Wednesday before voting against the $37 million FCC contract.

“I would just like to see this whole thing start over from the beginning and do it properly. Much of the scoring on both the first and second go-arounds was subjective in nature,” Knox said. “I just don’t believe that this is the right thing to do in this manner.”

At-large Councilman Michael Kubosh and District A Councilwoman Brenda Stardig joined Knox in opposing the deal. District F Councilman Steve Le, District G Councilman Greg Travis and District J Councilman Mike Laster were absent for the vote.

Turner defended the recycling procurement as “more rigorous” than usual.

“We just didn’t go with the first round. We went back for a best and final the second round,” he said. “The first round — pretty much all of the information was put out in public, so we asked people to bid against themselves.”

District E Councilman Dave Martin, who previously complained about a lack of transparency in the procurement process, came around in time for the vote.

“I think it’s probably the most economically feasible deal for the city of Houston,” Martin said.

Meanwhile, Rosanne Barone, Houston program director for the advocacy group Texas Campaign for the Environment, lauded the city for “heading in the right direction” on recycling.

“This shows the mayor is committed to continuing moving forward to make the city of Houston more sustainable. We’re so happy glass is going to be back, and so happy and surprised and excited that plastic bags are now going to be included,” Barone said. “The next step is just to keep moving forward: To keep including more materials, to expand curbside pickup to apartments and businesses.”

Its agreement with FCC finalized, the city now is working to renegotiate an agreement with Waste Management, its current curbside recycling provider, to continue picking up recyclables until FCC’s facility is operational.

“I’m hoping that it won’t significantly increase,” Turner said of Houston’s recycling costs during that time. “We’re negotiating. We’ll see what happens.”

Mike Morris contributed to this report

Walgreens pledges to launch long-awaited chemical policy

Chemical Watch
By Tammy Lovell
Original article here

US pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance has announced it will launch its long-awaited chemicals management programme this year. The retail chain had been criticised by NGOs for failing to publish the programme, first announced in 2014.

In its latest corporate social responsibility report, WBA pledges it will publish a list of high priority chemicals of concern in its products and create an action plan for their management in 2018.

The programme will initially focus on the company’s own brand baby, personal care and household products. However, WBA will also publish a roadmap to extend the scope of its chemical management to other products in its portfolio. It intends to report on progress annually.

The report says that WBA has been acquiring tools over the last twelve months to trace the ingredients in its products and supply chain.

It is using the UL PurView platform, a system which helps businesses collect data across the supply chain and compare ingredients against sustainability standards.

“Building traceability into our supply chain will help us continue to review the substances in our products, such as chemicals,” the report says.

WBA is also preparing for compliance with the EU’s May REACH deadline to register substances, particularly in relation to cosmetics and hard goods, such as candles and makeup brushes.

‘Notable steps’

Last year, the WBA-owned pharmacy Walgreens received a D- grade in the Mind the Store report card – an NGO campaign that rates US retailers on their actions to eliminate chemicals in consumer products. Walgreens came 18th out of 30 stores, scoring just 21.5 out of 135 possible points.

Mike Schade of the NGO Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families – which runs the Mind the Store campaign – told Chemical Watch he was pleased the pharmacy was making progress towards a safer chemicals policy.

“We congratulate Walgreens for taking these notable steps and look forward to reviewing their chemicals management roadmap. We are pleased that the company has also committed to reporting on progress annually,” he said.

Mr Schade added that he hoped the chemicals action programme would “set clear metrics and timeframes for reducing and eliminating chemicals of concern in these and other product categories, and report on those metrics annually.”

He urged Walgreens to follow other retailers such as Target and Walmart – which scored high marks in the NGO report – by expanding the policy over time to include brand name products they sell and becoming a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project.