As of right now, San Francisco trash is picked up and dropped off at a site in Livermore (about 45 miles, or a 90 minute drive away). The current contract is set to expire by 2015, so the Department of Environment is evaluating a couple of competitive proposals. The current favorite would have San Francisco’s trash sent to Oakland to only be picked up again and then dropped off in Wheatland, an additional 130 miles away.
Environmental officials of SF are trying to come up with a reasonable compromise by proposing Yuba County as the new drop off point for SF’s trash.
According to business leaders, this deal will help generate $22 million (over 10 years) in necessary funds for the county of Yuba (currently the fourth poorest city in the state).
However, those opposed to the proposed deal argue that the landfill will destroy the farmland and water sources surrounding the area. Should the deal not go as planned, this could pose even more dangerous threats to the health and well-being of the residents of Yuba County.
Negotiations are still underway, but additional details should be out later this month. As far as changes to costs for San Franciscans, there will probably be a rate increase in trash pickup. But deputy director of the environment department David Assmann puts it, “rates are bound to change when a city negotiates a contract that is 27 years old”.
Alternatively, some companies are striving to reduce our amount of waste. One such company in the Backlands is finding ways to turn waste into fuel. Darling International on Amador Street (in the Backlands area of San Francisco, “a 23-acre industrial park operated by the Port of San Francisco along The City’s southeastern shoreline”) takes in fleets of cooking oil, animal remains, and other byproducts six days a week.
Waste is melted down and through a rendering process a high-quality tallow is produced that is used to create soap and cosmetics. Alternatively, biodiesel is produced from the waste as well, and is used by rail operators and other Bay Area customers that burn diesel. A proposal is currently underway to generate further demand for the alternative fuel produced by the company. (Opponents of the proposal argue that biodiesel increases smog pollution, which in turn is bad for everyone’s health.)
Unfortunately, until we can develop a way to live off of resources that are completely recyclable and reusable, landfills are a necessary evil. (worthy reading: Cradle to Cradle)
According to SF Gate, San Francisco generates 5,600 tons of waste each day, 20 percent of which isn’t recycled or composted and could go to the Ostrom Road landfill. That number could decrease, though, as San Francisco continues to cut the amount of garbage that is sent to the dump, Assmann said. The goal is to have zero waste by 2020.