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Nov 18

Food Scraps Don’t Belong in the Recycling

Posted on November 18, 2019 at 9:57 AM by Carlos Velazquez

Mixed bin of garbage

Is your jar half-full of salsa? Does your can still have food in it? Don’t toss them in the recycling! Food scraps contaminate the recycling process.

When food scraps get into your recycling, they make recyclables less clean and less valuable. Food can get stuck in sorting equipment, forcing workers to stop the sorting line to clean it up. Food can also seep into paper products, making the fibers too weak to be recycled — liquids, sticky residue and leftover grease, especially.

Long story short: A batch of food-contaminated recycling can quickly end up in the landfill.

What can you do? Empty and scrape out any containers that once held food.

(Post courtesy of

Oct 30

Teamwork at the Heart of ESD’s Capital Improvement Program

Posted on October 30, 2019 at 7:59 PM by Carlos Velazquez

Cogeneration facility roof trusses are installed for new engine generation building.png

We emphasize collaboration at the Environmental Services Department, whether among teams or divisions or when we’re working with partners. 

Teamwork is especially important for our $1.4 billion, 10-year Capital Improvement Program at the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. The CIP is a massive, complex project to upgrade the largest advanced wastewater facility in the western United States, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. The CIP involves multiple City departments, a program consultant and contractors, all of whom must work as a cohesive unit.

ESD Director Kerrie Romanow wrote about teamwork and the CIP in the most recent installment of Utilities Tech Outlook, a publication that covers innovation in the utilities industry. The article explains how the successful collaboration within the CIP started with careful planning and involves robust staff engagement.

To read the article, view a PDF or visit the website of Utilities Tech Outlook. ESD’s website contains more information about the CIP.

The CIP consists of more than 30 projects, the majority of which are currently in design or construction.

The Regional Wastewater Facility treats an average of roughly 105 million gallons of wastewater per day and discharges about 87 million gallons per day of tertiary-treated wastewater into southern San Francisco Bay, which is home to a diverse ecosystem that includes several dozen fish species. The RWF produces approximately 10 million gallons per day of recycled wastewater for industrial and commercial applications.

Sep 25

Six ways to Cut Back on Food Waste for Climate Week

Posted on September 25, 2019 at 2:06 PM by Carlos Velazquez

September 23-29 is Climate Week NYC, a series of events run in coordination with the UN and the City of New York that showcase actions people are taking around the world to reduce our impact on the climate and foster discussion on how we can do more.

Want to Take Action?

If you want to join the effort to take action on climate, food waste is a great place to start. In the U.S., 40% of food goes to waste, which accounts for 16% of our total methane emissions. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that has more than 25 times the environmental impact that carbon dioxide has.

We can lower our methane emissions and reduce our climate impact by cutting back on food waste.

How to Reduce Your Food Waste

Try out these 6 tips to put a dent in how much food you waste:

1. Shop smart. Only buy what you know you’ll use. Create a meal plan for the week and build a shopping list around that meal plan. Try using this meal planner from Eureka Recycling, or the EPA’s smart shopping list (PDF).

2. Store food strategically. Fasten a produce storage guide to your fridge door, such as this one from the EPA (PDF), so you know which foods keep best inside or outside the fridge.

Also, learn about where food should be stored within your fridge. Your shelves, drawers and doors are designed to hold different types of foods. Check out the NRDC’s Refrigerator Demystified infographic (PDF).

3. Eat food strategically. All produce has a varying shelf life. Try labeling your food to remind yourself which items need to be eaten first (these PDF signs from the EPA are handy), and freeze food that’s about to go bad so you can use it in the future.

Still having trouble eating food in time? Try the USDA’s FoodKeeper application for Apple and Android devices. The app provides expert-backed advice for storing and eating more than 400 foods and drinks, and can give you reminders to use items before they go bad.

4. Prepare food in advance. When you get home from the store, rinse and chop your produce so that snacking and meal prep is easier during the week. That way you’ll be more likely to follow through on making the meals you shopped for.

5. In California, best-by dates indicate freshness, not safety. Use-by dates indicate food safety. That means you can still eat food after its best-by date, but not after its use-by date. To learn more about how long you can keep food, visit or

6. Have a fridge full of random items? Use an online tool to help you find recipes for them, such as Supercook or MyFridgeFood.

(Post courtesy of