ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
September 25, 2002
CALL TO ORDER- Chairperson Susan Reid called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. in the Council Chambers. In addition to Reid, members present included Joanne Krippaehne, Jim Hartman, Bruce Moats, Russ Chapman, Darcy Cronin and Paige Prewett. Staff present was Sonja Akerman. Staff Dick Wanderscheid and members Charles Bennett and Mort Smith were unable to attend the meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES - Krippaehne moved to approve the August 28, 2002 minutes as submitted and with a second by Moats, the motion passed with a unanimous vote.
PUBLIC FORUM - There was no one present who wished to speak.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE: Chapman introduced his wife, Candace, to the Commission and stated she is on the Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) Committee. They both attended the Association of Oregon Recyclers Conference that was held September 12-14. She was there to gain insight into electronic waste and he was there mainly for single stream recycling information from a hauling standpoint.
Candace reported the biggest issue with electronic waste (e-waste) is where does it go? E-waste is classified as hazardous waste material, yet technically, a household computer can go into the landfill. Commercial entities are required to get rid of e-waste in a safer manner. The problem is that most e-waste from the United States ends up overseas. According to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), 80% of electronic equipment related to recycling is processed overseas. She said she saw a shocking video produced by the Basel Action Network (BAN) on the processing of e-waste in China. Candace recommended the Commissioners go to the BAN website at www.ban.org. (Note - Several years ago, a convention was held in Basel, Switzerland regarding the trafficking of hazardous waste. Although most environmentalists and developing countries did not support the Convention at the time because it failed to ban hazardous waste exports, by working within the Convention, the ban of hazardous waste exports from wealthy countries to less wealthy countries was achieved within three years.) Candace said that of the top major countries of the world, all except the United States and Canada now support the Basel Ban. She related another problem with e-waste is the fact that everything is so integrated on circuit boards, they are difficult to break down. In addition, manufacturers are not revealing to the recyclers the different types of metal used in the components. Cathode ray tubes, monitors, televisions and LED displays are all problematic.
On the up side, Candace said there are a few things we can do as consumers. When dealing with a company, check to see if it has signed the Basel Accord to ensure all e-waste will remain here for recycling. The StRUT (Students Repairing Used Technology) Program in Portland repairs and recycles old computers and builds new ones for distribution in the schools. There are two companies in Seattle that process e-waste without shipping it overseas - Total Reclaim and Ecolight (sp?) Northwest. Another way to help is to donate computers to Free Geek in Portland, where they will be reconditioned and upgraded and then offered to the community. Information sources include the websites www.deq.state.or.us, www.productstewardship.net and www.recyclingadvocates.org. These companies are also working on getting the United States to buy into the Basel Accord. Candace stated she found all this information to be both enlightening and scary.
Chapman related another bit of good news is that a company in White City (American Appliance Recyclers) is in partnership with DEQ in developing its recycling program. In addition to accepting such items as propane tanks and appliances, the company is now accepting computers. Chapman assured the members that this is a very reliable company. It costs $20 to drop off a computer, $15 if it is just the monitor, $5 for the hard drive and $2 for just the keyboard. Computers will be dismantled, not refurbished. Since this is available in Jackson County, there will be no free computer day at the transfer station. Reid asked if it would be feasible to work with the company in order to have a day in Ashland for citizens to bring in computers. Discussion followed regarding what would be involved in developing such a program. Chapman said a big factor is liability and that Ashland Sanitary is not ready for such a program right now; however, he will talk to his partner about the possibility. Cronin noted there needs to be an opportunity for education and awareness in the community.
Chapman then reported on single string commingle systems. He said that as more items become recyclable, it makes sense to recycle using an automated system. The entire industry is now moving toward semi or fully automated systems for all materials with the use of carts. Rogue Disposal will have a fully automated system before too long. Reid asked about accepting glass at curbside, noting she thought the State of Oregon had passed a bill several years ago stipulating that glass could always be collected at the curb. Chapman will check this out. He also said if Ashland Sanitary goes to a fully automated system, the cart with recycled material would most likely be picked up every other week and rates would have to increase. Educating people who live in apartment complexes was then discussed. Chapman said the 65-gallon carts for recycling will have red lids so they will stand out separately. Also, he commented there should be someone from the complex managing the cart so trash doesn't get thrown in. He subsequently related that most likely everything that is accepted at the Recycle Center can be placed in the carts. However, no decisions have been made yet on how Ashland Sanitary will be operating the commingled recycling program. Chapman will be discussing this first with his partner, then discussing it with the community. Moats asked what would happen to plain old garbage and Chapman responded it would still be collected once a week.
Candace noted that rechargeable batteries can be taken to Radio Shack. She also informed the Commission that the AFN Committee will be meeting on October 12 from 10:00 a.m. until noon at Leo's Bistro Grill. She invited the Commission to attend and said the purpose of this meeting is for the public to meet the committee.
Chapman then informed the Commission that $560 was donated last year to help pay for the plaque dedicating the composting area to Julian Henry, who was instrumental in developing that area at the Recycle Center. $215.22 was spent on the plaque, and since there is a balance of $334.78, he asked the Commission for ideas about where it should go. Hartman said Bellview Elementary School will be starting a composting program for kitchen waste, and it would be nice to have a portion of that money so enough lumber can be purchased to build a triple bin composter, which will probably cost about $100. He noted that he already composts kitchen scraps at the high school. The members concurred this would put the balance of money to good use. Chapman said he will write the check to the Ashland Environmental Club so it can be used for like projects in the school district. Hartman thanked Chapman and noted a Girl Scout will be in charge of the Bellevue School project. Krippaehne suggested a press release about where the money came from and how it will be used in order to promote composting. Reid suggested involving the Girl Scouts also.
Marketing - Krippaehne reported the committee had met and reviewed the status of some of the goals. Quite a bit of progress has resulted on some of the goals, but not a lot of progress has been made on others, especially the Adopt-A-Street Program, which currently does not have any staff support. The committee would like to ensure the incorporation of this program is included in the new Conservation Analyst position so it is fully supported prior to its promotion. Chapman said that Wanderscheid had assured him one of the analysts will support this program.
Update on City of Ashland purchasing policy for recycled content paper - Prewett clarified she would like to get the City to purchase 100% post-consumer recycled paper rather than pre-consumer recycled paper, which is paper that has never left the plant and is just reconstituted. She noted that Purchasing Agent Kari Olson was able to procure 100% post-consumer recycled paper for the AFN letterhead and it was actually less expensive than the regular 30% paper. With this in mind, she would like to see the Conservation Commission propose a policy for City Council adoption with respect to purchasing 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Prewett mentioned she also talked with Leslie Adams, who had done her senior capstone project at Southern Oregon University (SOU) on the purchasing of recycled paper. Adams has offered to share raw data she had gathered during her research. Prewett would like to see a policy for purchasing post-consumer 100% recycled paper adopted similar to the resolution requiring preference be given to certified sustainable wood and wood products. She would also like to go beyond white paper to include colored paper, paper towels and toilet paper. Reid suggested the Commission write a letter to the Council asking that it be allowed to develop a policy concerning paper products. The Council can then give the Commission direction on how to proceed. Discussion ensued regarding copy machines and printers that don't handle recycled paper well. Hartman is concerned about the cost that could be incurred for the school district. Cronin said she feels the recycled paper today is far superior to recycled paper that was produced in the past. Prewett commented that this is what drives the market to create more machines that can use the recycled paper. Cronin noted that Headwaters is purchasing 100% post-consumer recycled paper from Badger Paper through West Coast Paper at a very reasonable rate. Krippaehne moved and Chapman seconded to send a letter to the Council regarding the purchasing of 100% post-consumer recycled paper. The motion was approved with a unanimous vote. Chapman, Krippaehne and Prewett will draft a letter and the Commission will aim for the October 15 City Council meeting. Reid will be at the Council meeting to help run it through so the Commission should have a response by the October 23 meeting.
Krippaehne also mentioned that last month the Commission had talked about paying the difference in cost to print the monthly utility bill newsletter or the City Source on 100% post-consumer recycled paper in order to hold it out as an example. Cronin said that once the Council adopts a paper policy, it would be a good time to do this. Reid noted that some communities are using fast growing poplar trees to make paper products, so although it is not tree-free paper, or 100% recycled paper, it is better than some methods. Since this is not a simple issue, Reid said it is good to keep the big picture in mind. It will be discussed again next month.
Motivating customers to bring their own grocery bags to stores - Krippaehne reported that last month the possibility of making shopping bags a project for next year was discussed, however, the marketing committee felt it is something that could begin now. The committee would like to focus on shopping bags, with the possibility of including a campaign and perhaps handing the bags out on the 4th of July. Cronin suggested having a bag with the Sustainable Ashland logo on it, then getting stores to sell them. The more people see them, the more they might associate Ashland with sustainable practices. Prewett said if there is a campaign, it would make managers and employees stop and think about whether or not a bag is really needed. Reid asked if this is an item the members would like added to the list of projects. Hartman said he agrees in principle that such bags should be used but wondered how realistic it is to keep using them. Chapman said most paper bags are used once. Then they end up at the Recycle Center; then they are trucked to Medford; then they are bailed with cardboard; and then the bails are trucked up to Springfield. A campaign would help educate people. Once they start thinking about this, maybe they will start thinking about the next thing they waste that doesn't need to be wasted. Prewett said that while she lived in England, she noticed that people carried their own bags to the stores with them. Reid said that while this is true, the big incentive in Europe is that things cost more in general and that drives conservation, so it is forced on them. Chapman said he would rather concentrate on getting the paper policy worked out before beginning work on such a project. Cronin said the shopping bag effort can be placed on the back burner and then perhaps be unveiled around Earth Day.
Green Business Program Update - There was nothing new to report. Krippaehne stated that Ross Finney has accomplished what the Commission asked of him and now there is the need to wait until the new Conservation staff person is hired.
Earth Advantage Program - Akerman reported the contract between the City and BPA has been signed. Robbin Pearce and Cathy Cartmill will be invited to attend a meeting after they have been through the Earth Advantage training program in October.
Display Board Subcommittee - Cronin, Bennett and Prewett volunteered to be on the subcommittee. Prewett stated the marketing subcommittee had also talked about meeting with this committee to brainstorm ideas of content for the display. She said the members had expressed the desire to begin with the Conservation Commission itself, then moving on to develop information about conservation programs and other ideas.
Conservation Tips - Krippaehne reported there are a lot of tips that have already been turned in to the Tidings. Prewett stated since there is a reserve pool now and having them printed is now pending the Tidings transition, there is no hurry to produce more. They may or may not be printed. If they are used, more tips will be recruited. If they are not printed, then other places to use them will be sought.
Progress on Street Sweeper - Prewett reported the sweeper will be picked up in Portland next week and should be here by October 4. It will then be ready for the decal measurements.
Discuss what to do with used furniture Goodwill cannot use - There was nothing more to discuss at this time.
Budget - The budget currently stands at $3,551.00.
COMMISSION ITEMS NOT ON AGENDA:
Hartman said he would like to pursue a campaign to stop junk mail coming to the schools because of the waste. Moats stated there is a direct marketing association number that can be called to remove names from mailing lists. Reid mentioned that she thinks there is a phone number that can be called to remove names from all mailing lists except first class. She also said she had spoken with someone at the post office that said junk mail pays for the mail service.
Moats stated that he had read a recent article in the City Source regarding city-owned property and was interested in the large parcel known as the Imperatrice property outside the city limits and across the freeway. He wondered if it would be feasible for the City to have a wind or solar farm located on the site. Reid said she thought a study had already been done and it was found the wind was not strong or consistent enough. Also, the cost is quite high for solar generated electricity and since solar power is best when produced for use on the exact site where it will be used, solar electricity most likely would not be feasible either. She said the 800 acres was purchased for $800,000 as a community and some people feel the property is now worth several million dollars, which would be revenue to the City if it is sold. Moats suggested a portion of the proceeds from the sale could be put aside for conservation support since the property was originally purchased for the off-site spray irrigation/bio-solids reuse program. Reid stated possible proceeds from the sale of the property are using the money for affordable housing, reimbursing the general fund, using it for open space or future parks, etc. There will be a discussion at an upcoming City Council meeting regarding the sale of the property and whether to link the sale to existing programs. She assured the Commission that whatever is proposed will come before the City Council for discussion. Wanderscheid will be asked to provide information on wind and solar potential for the property.
ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:43 p.m.