This Week in Sebastopol #2
Redemption is now available locally at long last, April 23-29.
Your 5 cents
It’s called California Redemption Value, or CRV, the nickel or dime that’s added to the price of most bottles and cans sold in California. Since the CRV law passed in 1986, which required retail stores to collect the deposit as well as accept the returned bottles and refund the deposit, nothing has quite worked that way it was supposed to.
Now there’s some effort to fix the problem. The first redemption center in Sonoma County opened in Sebastopol in the parking lot of the Community Church on Gravenstein Hwy. Its hours are limited: from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Zero Waste Sonoma is managing the recycling center in partnership with the United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay. Sonoma County received a $1 million grant from CalRecycle, which will be used to open 10 centers in the county.
There seemed to be little incentive for the State of California to solve the problem while allowing the surplus to grow to $330 million for unredeemed CRV. CalRecycle reports that beverage sales increased dramatically during the pandemic, only adding to the surplus. The good news is that the State of California has finally owned up to its failure to ensure that local redemption centers exist and plans to use that surplus to invest in infrastructure. Governor Newsom announced in April that he allocated $300 million in funding for the creation of these centers, as explained in an article in Waste Today. One of the more interesting ideas is placing “reverse vending machines” in high schools and other places where soda machines are sold.
Mary Callahan in the Press Democrat provided excellent coverage, including why this program has been such a mess for years. She reports that retail outlets have chosen to accept fines rather than provide the redemption service. Plus, the haulers of curbside recycling separate out these bottles and cans and they are the ones collecting your five-cent deposits.
It probably says something that most of us just gave up worrying about the five cents and stopped trying to return those bottles and cans.
The “Myth of Recycling”
While agencies likes CalRecyle and Zero Waste Sonoma promote recycling, we found it confusing that California State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced an investigation into Exxon Mobil saying here that “recycling is a myth” and “only 9% of all plastic is recycled”:
“Enough is enough. For more than half a century, the plastics industry has engaged in an aggressive campaign to deceive the public, perpetuating a myth that recycling can solve the plastics crisis. The truth is: The vast majority of plastic cannot be recycled, and the recycling rate has never surpassed 9%. Every week, we consume the equivalent of a credit card’s worth of plastic through the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. This first-of-its-kind investigation will examine the fossil fuel industry's role in creating and exacerbating the plastics pollution crisis – and what laws, if any, have been broken in the process.
Certainly efforts to reduce the production of plastics makes sense. But this messaging conflicts with what is being said about the importance of consumer recycling. You can watch the Attorney General Bonta’s seaside announcement:
Getting to Zero Waste
Zero Waste is a commitment to find ways to greatly conserve resources by eliminating the waste streams that communities produce. Leslie Lukacs, Executive Director of Zero Waste Sonoma, which is a regional government agency, will be our guest on the first podcast for Sebastopol Times.
The Washington Post has a lovely photo essay and story on Kamikatsu, a Japanese mountain village that is approaching 80% zero waste. It shows the dedication and cooperation required to achieve such a goal. Zero waste initiatives have to depend on people working together at the local level.
For instance, here’s a story on starting a community compost project, which sounds like a great idea to organize in neighborhoods. Here’s a resource on home composting from Zero Waste Sonoma.
"Shero” rescues crab boat crew
Patty Ginochio in the Sonoma Gazette tells the dramatic shero story of the March rescue at sea of the crew of Susan E, a crab boat out of Bodega Bay. Argo Captain Michael Cooley responded to the distress call from the Susan E and headed toward them, but its crew were already in the cold waters. Their boat, filled 3,000 pounds of Dungeness crab, had taken on water and sank quickly. Amanda Pusatero, the 5’1” 33-year-old deckhand on the Argo, helped pull the crew members on board in choppy seas. She then wrapped them in sleeping bags to get them warm and re-assured them that they were now safe. That’s a whole different meaning for working remotely.
Prepare for the worst that can happen on Sunday at the Fire and Earthquake Safety Expo in Cloverdale from 10am to 4pm at the Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds.
The Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival takes place this weekend at Westside Regional Park. Apart from the annual Blessing of the Fleet, the event takes place on solid ground but people do get tipsy with all the craft beer and wine.
In Sebastopol Times This Week
Laura shared photos from the Apple Blossom Parade and Festival, which emerged from Covid and returned to form. It’s nice to see your politicians back in person, walking and waving, followed by lots of odd, old cars.
The City of Sebastopol has banned reviewing applications to build gas stations in the city, as reported by Laura. Currently, there are only two gas stations within city limits (Rotten Robbie and Fast Gas) with a few others outside the city. There are four locations for charging electric cars, which seems too few.
The Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations (CON-GAS) backed the ban. “This is not a symbolic measure,” said Woody Hastings of CON-GAS. Methinks, he doth protest too much.
A proposal to double parking fines from the Police Chief was cut in half and then approved by the City Council, according to Laura’s report. Notable was Jim Wheaton’s back-of-the-napkin financial impact summary.
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