City could choose CleanScapes for garbage contract, dump Waste Management

October 18, 2011

Officials seek hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods

CleanScapes nudged out larger competitors and emerged as the No. 1 contender to haul Issaquah garbage due, in part, to offering curbside pickup for difficult-to-recycle items, such as batteries and light bulbs.

The city is seeking a garbage hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods. Waste Management is the predominant hauler in the city, but the current contract between Issaquah and the Houston-based company expires in June.

Seattle-based CleanScapes came out as the top candidate after city officials evaluated offers from both companies and another collector, Allied Waste — a local name for national company Republic Services.

City officials said a $3.8-million-per-year CleanScapes contract could mean lower rates for Issaquah customers, plus increased customer service and recycling options. The contract requires City Council approval.

If the CleanScapes contract is approved, a residential customer putting a 32-gallon cart out for weekly curbside pickup could see rates decrease from $13.43 to $12.74 — a 5.1 percent drop.

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Pickering Barn volunteer garden showcases drip watering system

August 23, 2011

“We’re not just growing food, we’re trying to educate,” said Faalah Jones, of Seattle Tilth.

Water resources manager for the Cascade Water Alliance, Michael Brent, agreed.

“We’re just trying to show the potential of a few things,” he said.

Manager of the Issaquah Resource Conservation Office, David Fujimoto said much the same.

“It’s kind of a learning garden,” he said.

All three were referring to a large public garden alongside Pickering Barn on 10th Avenue Northwest in Issaquah.

While it is maintained almost exclusively by volunteers, the nonprofit organization Seattle Tilth oversees the garden. The latest project in the garden is a new drip irrigation system being installed by the city and the water alliance, Brent said.

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Garbage haulers tout ‘green’ credentials

May 10, 2011

James Connors (left) and Rey Bravo, yard waste and recycle truck drivers, respectively, for Allied Waste, each drive the new compressed natural gas-fueled trucks on their South Cove routes. By Greg Farrar

City seeks eco-conscious company for trash contract

The city is on the hunt for a company to collect garbage and recyclables from Issaquah curbs, and the hauler displaying the “greenest” credentials could receive a boost in the selection process.

Come fall, leaders plan to select a company to handle the smelly task in the years ahead. In the meantime, Allied Waste and Waste Management — the haulers operating in Issaquah — continue to emphasize eco-conscious programs.

Allied Waste rolled out compressed-natural-gas-powered trucks on routes through the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods in recent months.

In February, the hunter green Waste Management fleet received a clean-air certification after a rigorous audit.

“Sustainability is always on the agenda,” city Resource Conservation Manager David Fujimoto said. “It’s important to the city and to the waste-management contracts.”

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City makes history in effort to turn restaurants ‘green’

September 28, 2010

A plastic fork and spork get picked out of the compost waste pile by Cedar Grove Composting General Manager Nick Harbert. By Greg Farrar

Groundbreaking packaging ordinance takes effect Oct. 1

Inside the neon-illuminated Rollin’ Log Tavern, the full effect of the city-mandated change from foam and plastic to eco-friendly cups, containers and utensils is apparent after a quick glance at the timeworn bar.

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Issaquah sustainability ‘report card’ indicates successes, shortfalls

September 7, 2010

The inaugural sustainability “report card” from the city touted Costco carpools, a community garden and affordable-housing construction in the Issaquah Highlands as signs of progress.

The report released last week packs data about environmental, economic and social health.

The “report card” is based upon recommendations from a 16-member panel assembled in 2008 by Mayor Ava Frisinger. The group, the Sustainability Sounding Board, formed a long-term sustainability plan and then set benchmarks for the city to track progress.

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Watch the mailbox for a free leak-detection kit

March 16, 2010

NEW — 12:25 p.m. March 16, 2010

To keep a vital natural resource from going down the drain, conservation officials have mailed leak-detection kits to every single-family residence in Issaquah.

The city Resource Conservation Office and Cascade Water Alliance sent the kits — a dye strip to be used to determine whether toilets leak water. A leaky toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water each year.

“Every home has toilets and eventually they all leak,” Mike Brent, water resources manager for the water alliance, said during a City Council meeting Monday.

Brent joined city Resource Conservation Office Manager David Fujimoto and a water conservation mascot — a blue, anthropomorphic water droplet named Wayne Drop — at the meeting to discuss the importance of leak detection.

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Polystyrene ban will begin next October

November 24, 2009

Issaquah will become the first Eastside city to ban polystyrene food containers, when Styrofoam takeout boxes and plastic foam cups are outlawed next October. Businesses will be required to switch to compostable or recyclable — and pricier — containers and utensils by May 2011.

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Officials, restaurateurs discuss polystyrene alternatives

August 4, 2009

When Microsoft introduced eco-friendly utensils in company cafeterias, there was a problem with the new spoons: They warped in coffee, soup and other hot liquids. Read more

City considers ban on Styrofoam

June 23, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
Stop by XXX Rootbeer Drive-in for a to-go root beer, and the signature drink will be served in a plastic foam cup — for now. Employees at the drive-in and many other Issaquah restaurants could be forced to swap Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers for eco-friendly materials.
Drive-in owner Jose Enciso said his restaurant uses polystyrene products because they cost less than alternatives. As the City Council considers a ban on Styrofoam to-go boxes and other food containers made from eco-unfriendly polystyrene, Enciso and other business leaders said the ban could mean higher prices on the menu.
But Enciso said he was comfortable with the switch for environmental reasons.
“Whatever it takes to help out the environment,” he said. “We’re ready.”
A proposed ban would outlaw polystyrene food packaging — a measure that would impact restaurants like XXX, grocers and other food sellers. Critics said the material lingers in landfills long after Styrofoam trays and cups are tossed into the trash. Polystyrene is expensive to recycle, too.
Councilman Joshua Schaer modeled the legislation on polystyrene bans in Seattle, Portland and several California cities.
“There may be a little resistance now, but I’m sure — given the success of this in much, much larger cities than Issaquah — it seems to me that we can move in the right direction,” he said.
Schaer and other Council Sustainability Committee members met June 16 to discuss the proposed ban.
Officials have questions about safe alternatives to polystyrene and how the ban would impact restaurants already grappling with consumers dining out less in the down economy.
“You know, these packages are used to serve takeout or in restaurants, and they typically last for a few minutes in terms of any use,” Schaer said. “The reality is, while we may only see them for a few minutes, the landfill and the environment sees them for tens of thousands of years.”
Even Schaer acknowledged not all compostable and recyclable alternatives are as durable as polystyrene. Schaer, a lawyer, works at a firm in downtown Seattle. He recalled buying lunch at a Pakistani restaurant near his office soon after the Seattle ban went into effect.
“They were using a corn-based container that was extremely hot and the curry was starting to melt through the bottom of it,” Schaer said. “That went on for a few weeks and I think people started complaining to the owner, because he’s at the counter all the time. You know, they made a switch.”
Schaer said the new container type survived the several-block walk to his office.
Though the draft ordinance declared the ban would be effective Jan. 1, officials said a ban — if approved — would go into effect much later. Sustainability Committee members will review the measure again next month.
Josh McDonald, government affairs coordinator for the Washington Restaurant Association, said restaurateurs would need time to prepare. He said they are also reluctant to use compostable and recyclable alternatives, because polystyrene is cheaper. In turn, restaurateurs would pass the cost along to diners.
“Anytime you take steps to increase costs, it has a negative effect on us,” McDonald said. “That said, a lot of our restaurants, a lot of our folks, are voluntarily moving in this direction and doing what they can and doing their part to move toward more sustainable [practices].”
City Resource Conservation Office Manager David Fujimoto said his staff planned for education and outreach efforts if the City Council bans polystyrene packaging. Fujimoto said 131 of the 800 or so businesses in Issaquah serve or sell food — 42 fast food outlets, 61 full-service restaurants and 28 stores.
Holly Chisa, Washington lobbyist for the Northwest Grocery Association, said her organization was working with more than 100 stores impacted by the Seattle ban to find products to meet the criteria outlined in the city’s ordinance.
Seattle officials outlawed polystyrene food containers last year. The ban took effect in January; next year, it will expand to include plastic containers and utensils.
Chisa said her No. 1 concern was the polystyrene trays used to package raw meat. Trays made from cardboard, and sugar and corn derivatives pose challenges. For instance, blood and other liquids seep through cardboard, while sugar and corn products could provide food sources for harmful bacteria.
“For a grocery store, the single most paramount concern we have is food safety,” Chisa said.
Products like prepackaged soups would already be exempt from the proposed ban. Schaer and other committee members did not rule out additional exemptions to the ordinance.
“For instance, if you said, ‘Hey, we own this business in Issaquah and there are simply no compostable or recyclable lids that we can use that are safe for our customers,’ then the city would take a look at that,” Schaer said.
Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Bott talked with Issaquah restaurateurs before the meeting. Bott said reactions to the proposed ban were mixed. He said officials should seek input from business and restaurant owners as they rework the ordinance.
“We would just ask for some time to get the word out, to get input and then come back with something that would hopefully be of value to this community,” Bott said.
Besides food safety, industry lobbyists raised concerns about whether alternative materials could hold up to hot food. Chisa echoed Schaer when she said some compostable and recyclable containers are not as tough as the real deal.
“Soup will break down that container faster than anything I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.
Jose Enciso Jr. fills Styrofoam cups at XXX Rootbeer in Issaquah. By Adam Eschbach

Jose Enciso Jr. fills Styrofoam cups at XXX Rootbeer in Issaquah. By Adam Eschbach

Stop by XXX Rootbeer Drive-in for a to-go root beer, and the signature drink will be served in a plastic foam cup — for now. Employees at the drive-in and many other Issaquah restaurants could be forced to swap Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers for eco-friendly materials.

Drive-in owner Jose Enciso said his restaurant uses polystyrene products because they cost less than alternatives. As the City Council considers a ban on Styrofoam to-go boxes and other food containers made from eco-unfriendly polystyrene, Enciso and other business leaders said the ban could mean higher prices on the menu.

But Enciso said he was comfortable with the switch for environmental reasons. Read more

Lobbyists tell city officials polystyrene ban could harm businesses

June 16, 2009

NEW — 9:10 p.m. June 16, 2009

City officials agreed tonight to work alongside business owners as the City Council considers a ban on Styrofoam to-go boxes and other food containers made from eco-unfriendly polystyrene.

A proposed ban would outlaw polystyrene food packaging. Critics said the material lingers in landfills long after Styrofoam trays and cups are tossed into the trash. Polystyrene is expensive to recycle, too.

But officials also raised questions about safe alternatives to polystyrene and how the ban would impact restaurants already grappling with consumers dining out less in the down economy. Council Sustainability Committee members met tonight to discuss the proposed ban.

“You know, these packages are used to serve takeout or in restaurants, and they typically last for a few minutes in terms of any use,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said. “The reality is, while we may only see them for a few minutes, the landfill and the environment sees them for tens of thousands of years.”

Read more

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