ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
May 23, 2001
CALL TO ORDER– Chairperson Susan Reid called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Susan Reid, Bruce Moats, Russ Chapman, Mort Smith, Russ Otte, Charles Bennett and Joanne Krippaehne. Staff present were Dick Wanderscheid and Sonja Akerman. Dan Murphy represented Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. Members Howard Braham and Paige Prewett were unable to attend the meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Chapman moved and Krippaehne seconded to approve the April 25, 2001 minutes as submitted. The motion passed with a unanimous vote.
Green Business Update – Although Ross Finney was unable to attend the meeting, Wanderscheid reported that Finney had distributed the new logos to all the businesses in the program. The businesses will let him know how they work and if the colors fade in the sunlight. Wanderscheid said he received the last bill from Finney for $307. This was reflected in the budget balance in the agenda. Wanderscheid also stated that DEQ is ready to finalize the Jackson County Green Business Program, so Finney's work on this will begin soon.
Subcommittee Appointments – Wanderscheid briefly reviewed the adoption of the goals at the last meeting and said the subcommittees should include marketing, street sweeping and TID. Reid said the members might want to wait on the street sweeping subcommittee until Public Works Director Paula Brown comes to a meeting to make a presentation. Otte stated now is the time to work on this, however, so a program will be ready in the fall. Reid suggested that two people volunteer for the subcommittee, then talk to Brown before the next meeting. Chapman said he would volunteer because he has offered a Tuesday at the Recycle Depot (the day it is normally closed) for disposal of yard waste to help alleviate this debris ending up in the storm drains. Chapman said he also thinks marketing of the Adopt-A-Street Program needs to be a separate subcommittee. The subcommittees are as follows:
June 19 City Council Presentation – Wanderscheid explained that once a year each board and commission makes a presentation to update the Council on what is happening, accomplishments that have been made, etc. The Conservation Commission needs to decide what kind of presentation to make and who will speak. Reid said she hopes the Commission will include what is possible to recycle during the presentation, as this is an opportunity to promote the program and educate the citizens who are watching in the audience or on TV. Other than curbside recycling, people have a tendency to forget what else can be brought to the depot and the transfer station. Wanderscheid noted that one way to accomplish this would be to give the evolution of the Conservation Commission, from its inception as the Recycling Task Force (which laid the groundwork, built the Recycle Center, was instrumental in the passage of the styrofoam ban ordinance, etc.). Smith noted the three articles on recycling will also be coming out in the Tidings before too long. Bennett, Smith and Krippaehne will work with Wanderscheid on the presentation. Wanderscheid encouraged all members to attend the Council meeting on June 19 if at all possible. Chapman said that although he will be out of town on the 19th, he could help work on the presentation.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE – Murphy reported 1) The hazardous waste event on May 4 and 5 saw a significant reduction compared with past years. There were 443 less cars, and latex paint that was turned in was 1/3 of what was turned in last year. Of note was that there was half the number of Ashland cars this year. The waste last year was 96,000 pounds compared with 76,000 pounds this year. The free latex paint disposal days definitely had an impact on the hazardous waste event and they are happy with that. 2) Rogue Disposal now has a permitted compost facility. This means the transfer station will begin accepting yard debris for the facility. It will cost $5 a yard for the tipping fee. Reid asked if yard waste from landscapers will affect this, and Murphy responded they are hoping it will. Rogue Disposal has done statewide studies on tipping fees and found that typically, fees are $8-10 a yard. Tipping fees are lower in Southern Oregon to begin with. The compost facility is a benefit in diverting tonnage out of the landfill. Sellable compost is probably still a couple years away. Chapman added the transfer station will be able to take all yard waste now, not just leaves and grass. When asked by Smith how this will be marketed, Murphy responded he is currently working on brochures. Murphy stated the facility will officially open in June.
MORE OLD BUSINESS:
Construction Debris Discussion – Wanderscheid explained the issue paper he had written on construction debris lists everything that is already accepted at the transfer station, and it is all cheaper than putting the debris in the landfill. There are not enough people taking advantage of this. Chapman agreed and said the information needs to go out with all building permits. Krippaehne asked if there was any baseline information about how much construction debris is going in the landfill. Murphy said there is probably at least 600 tons of wood waste per year. Gary Rigotti (Ashland Sanitary Service) stated the crew at the transfer station will separate debris loads that contain a lot of lumber because the wood waste can be hauled to BioMass. People are told if the load were separated, they would get a reduction in fees, however, Murphy pointed out many contractors claim the labor involved negates any of their savings.
Krippaehne maintained that no one really knows what the root issue is here. Why aren't contractors recycling more construction debris? Do contractors know they can recycle certain construction debris? If it were a matter of not knowing, this would be another marketing issue. Reid said contractors would most likely want a little more money for each job to separate the waste. Otte agreed and stated the incentive at this point is not enough to adjust for the labor. Contractors look at it as time lost. Even if it takes only 15-20 minutes more per day, it adds up. Rigotti agreed, then added that even though it costs more now, it still saves Ashland Sanitary to sort and take loads to BioMass because that material is not going into the landfill. Otte commented that in a lot of places, it is better to have a mixed drop off and site-sorted facility. Chapman stated that seems to be the way this is moving. Bennett said this seems to be critical point -- either the material is sorted before it is picked up or mixed, in which case it all needs to be separated. Murphy said that Rogue Disposal is about two years away from a co-mingled system and Chapman added Ashland Sanitary will also eventually have a co-mingled system, however people will still do their own separating at the depot. Murphy clarified the co-mingled system will not affect construction debris, it will only be for household recyclable items. Bennett said that maybe through education, incentives and the Green Business Program, the contractors will get the nudge they need to recycle construction debris. Wanderscheid related Bennett has a good point. Finney has talked about having construction debris as a component of the program.
Rigotti said he had recently talked to a contractor about the programs regarding construction debris that are currently offered and this person did not know about them. Through education, more contractors will take advantage of what can be done, especially with lumber that can go to BioMass. He cautioned that BioMass cannot accept contaminated loads.
Krippaehne informed the Commission she had contacted Southern Oregon University's Business School and Environmental Studies Program and was told there are students who are willing to help gather information. This would be a good opportunity to get feedback from the contractors. She also suggested working with the Homebuilders Association, as she knows that in other locations, Homebuilders have developed green building techniques. There is a need to understand what the impediments are here, as well as not impacting the contractors' competitive ability. Reid said she especially likes the idea of finding out what other Homebuilders Associations have done. Bennett said if there is an aspect of the Green Business Program that could be geared to contractors, it might help. Wanderscheid passed around copies of the City of San Jose Construction and Demolition Diversion Deposit Program, which is mandatory. He said he would rather not have a mandatory program in Ashland. He offered to take the information on the issue paper and have Ann Seltzer make a brochure to hand out with building permits. The brochure could probably be completed at least by July. If the participation rate goes up, then we will know it was achieved through education. As the Sustainable Housing Program is shaped, we will probably have to look at incentives. Reid said she would be interested in getting statistics. Krippaehne said all students need to do a final capstone project, and it should be possible for someone to find out if contractors are recycling, and if not, why not. We will have good information on issues once we get information back. If this is an economic problem, is there a way to manipulate the programs to make them more advantageous? Wanderscheid said he would like to focus on getting people to use the programs that we have in place.
Reid had promised Building Official Mike Broomfield that the Commission would discuss sheetrock and Murphy said he had talked to Rogue Disposal about it. Sheetrock cannot be composted. Murphy said he had also talked with Energy Extension Agent Larry Giardina about this, who went down the same path while he was looking for a way to recycle his sheetrock. He even called the gypsum company and was told he should not put it in the soil. Uses for sheetrock include portal cement and new gypsum, but neither is made in our region and there is no market here. Rigotti stated if anyone wants to pay the price of shipping sheetrock to Portland, Ashland Sanitary would do it.
Krippaehne volunteered to get students involved in this. Bennett noted this could be a practicum during the summer months; it is not necessarily something that has to be done between September and June.
Worm Bin Coupons – Wanderscheid informed the Commission he had received 23 coupons for worm composting bins from Prewett's class.
Election of Vice Chair – Otte moved to nominate Chapman for the position of Conservation Commission Vice Chair and Moats seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.
COMMISSION ITEMS – 1) Otte stated he has taken advantage of the coupons offered by the City of Ashland for the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and encouraged all to do the same. Wanderscheid added Tidings Editor Larry Berteau wrote an editorial on saving energy and the CFL coupons were mentioned. 2) Alex Amarotico, member of the audience, informed the Commission his mother's net-metered photovoltaic system would be in any day now. 3) Reid mentioned she has had a few jealous comments about the Green Business ad in the Playbill. She told these people to become Green Business Program members. 4) Wanderscheid reported that thanks to Otte, he had officially met with representatives of Ashland Middle School and the solar system should be installed within a couple weeks. He again mentioned this region is in dire need of conserving energy. Otte noted the system will be metered and an informational kiosk will be installed. 5) Smith stated if the government would offer tax credits for photovoltaics, more systems would be installed. Wanderscheid said the current administration is not interested and that there is not much in the Energy Plan to encourage conservation. Wanderscheid added the City of Ashland's Solar Electric Rebate Program will begin July 1. Because the payback is about 30 years for the installation of a solar photovoltaic system, it is obvious people will not be installing them for economic purposes.
AJOURNMENT – The meeting adjourned at 8:33 p.m.