Trash war hits Chamber of Commerce lunch

Luke Thomas

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is hosting a lunch with Recology today in an apparent effort to push a garbage transportation/disposal contract that the Board of Supervisors hasn’t yet approved.

The Guardian wrote about this ongoing landfill disposal contract dispute between Recology and Waste Management earlier this year, and to date, the Board has not voted on the matter.

But judging from the tone of the following press release, the Chamber, whose incoming chair elect is Recology Vice President John Legnitto, has already made its decision:

“Please join us for a lunch with Recology to learn about the San Francisco’s garbage by Green Rail to Ostrom Road project,” the Chamber states, noting that until the city’s goal of zero waste is reached, “some material will still need to be sent to landfill.”
“A panel of city officials from San Francisco and Oakland chose Recology Ostrom Road Landfill to receive garbage from San Francisco after the city’s current landfill agreement ends in 2015,” the Chamber continues, without bothering to note that this plan involves hauling the city’s waste all the way to Yuba County, which is three times further away than San Francisco's current waste disposal contract with Waste Management at the Altamont Landfill, near Livermore.

“Officials say the plan to ship San Francisco’s garbage by Green Rail to Ostrom Road is the most cost-effective and environmental option for transporting waste,” the Chamber continues.  “Rail haul is at least three times more efficient than trucking, takes trucks off the road, and cuts fuel consumption and air emissions.” And it encourages folks to learn more about the plan to ship the city's garbage to Ostrom Road, by visiting Recology’s Ostrom Road site:

Not to be outdone, Waste Management, Inc.has put together a video clip that features on-the-street interviews in downtown San Francisco with local residents--including an amazing "Statue Man" in Justin Herman Plaza-- about its competing plan to convert San Francisco’s garbage into liquid natural gas that would then fuels its garbage trucks.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club has asked the Board of Supervisors to schedule a public hearing. In a September 17 email, sent to Board President David Chiu and the rest of the Board, Rebecca Evans, chair of the Sierra Club's San Francisco Group, requested that the Board hold a public information hearing on the current status of the City's contract for landfill operations, starting in 2015.  

"Some months ago, the Department of the Environment 'selected' Recology's proposal to transport San Francisco's waste to Yuba County," Evans notes. "A contract was to be released in June 2010.  We understand the confidential nature of contract negotiations but it is September and no further information has been made public."

"To be clear, the San Francisco Bay Chapter has no policy position on the plan to move landfill operations from the current Waste Management Alameda County Altamont site to Recology's Ostrom Road destination," Evans clarifies. "However our chapter and the Club's Mother Lode Chapter have strong interests in the proposal and how it might be carried out. We ask you to hold a hearing in the near future so that the public can have a fuller understanding of this important issue."