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Archive for July, 2014

20
Jul

DC Council Takes a Step Towards Zero Waste!

Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 12:42:19 AM EST

By Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Thanks Council! No Background

Cheh Team on Dais Pic 2

DC Environmental Network:

District citizens, wildlife and environmental advocates had a good day last Monday, July 14th, when the DC Council successfully passed, and sent to Mayor Gray for signature, both the “Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013” and the “Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014”. These important bills both had provisions to help the District move towards being a zero waste city.

Highlights of the two bills:

DSC_0106b2vMajor Zero Waste Provisions of the “Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013”:

  • Called for a ban of the use of Styrofoam for food service businesses by January 1, 2016.
  • Requires food service businesses to only use compostable or recyclable food service ware by January 1, 2017

Major Zero Waste Provisions of the “Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014” (partial):

  • Requires the Executive to develop a zero waste plan that lays out the programs necessary to achieve Mayor Gray’s Sustainable DC goal of 80% waste diversion and clears the way for a Pay as You Throw (PAYT) system that can help increase the District’s waste diversion rate.
  • Prioritizes reuse and recycling over landfilling and incineration.
  • Requires separation of waste into recyclables, compostables and trash.

What made this first step in the legislative process even more meaningful is that the District of Columbia Council, much like Seattle, San Francisco and other cities, did not back down when high paid corporate lobbyists from the American Chemistry Council, DART Container Corporation and other large corporate interests, lobbied aggressively against these provisions.

2014-07-19_18-02-47The Anacostia Riverkeeper, Anacostia Watershed Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, DC Environmental Network, DC Statehood Green Party, Earthjustice, Energy Justice Network, Foundation Earth, Global Bees, Global Green USA, Green Cross International, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Potomac Riverkeeper, SCI/Community Forklift, Sierra Club DC Chapter and many more all played a variety of roles during this legislative process and will continue to advocate for Mayor Gray to sign both bills and continue to engage and advocate during the implementation stages of these two zero waste bills.

This continues to be a priority campaign for the DC Environmental Network and we will be pushing to make sure the District moves forward towards achieving our 80% waste diversion goal.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network

12
Jul

Don’t Let Corporation’s Dictate DC Policy!

Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 09:24:29 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Dont Let Corps Dictate DC Policy

DC Environmental Network:

In the last few days the DC Council was visited by an army of high paid corporate lobbyists representing some of the largest corporations on the planet. Their goal was to attack, at the last moment, important environmental bills, some of which are scheduled for final vote on Monday.  All of which are important to thousands of District residents who want to create a Sustainable DC.

Some of the well paid lobbyists were working for the following associations:

American Forest and Paper Association (powerful trade association for forest products) – They were working hard to convince Council members to allow giving the paper mill industry, hundreds of miles away from the District, DC ratepayer dollars to burn dirty, polluting black liquor, to produce energy. This was contrary to the intent of the District’s Renewable Portfolio Standard’s law that was designed by DCEN and others, to incentivize clean energy, like wind and solar…not dirty black liquor.

Consumer Electronics Association (representing over 2,000 consumer technology companies) –  Attempted to convince decision makers to limit the scope of what Extended Producer Responsibility means in DC with the effect of  keeping much of the potential value of electronic recycling materials out of the hands and reach of District residents.

American Chemistry Council (representing almost every polluting company on the planet) – Opposed Mayor Gray’s Styrofoam ban and attempted to bully the Council to stall or reject the Mayor’s proposal.

DART Container Corporation (global seller and advocate for increased use of styrofoam) – Were working hard to stop the Styrofoam ban and make sure they could continue to sell their toxic and polluting products to the District and internationally.

All of these corporate representatives share one thing in common. They all have millions of dollars to push local government decision makers around with an army of lobbyists that are more concerned about, maintaining the status quo, protecting profits and increasing income and wealth disparity, then they are about protecting the health and well-being of District residents.

Luckily, our DC Council has been, over the last few decades, willing to represent the interests of District residents and not those of corporate America that believes if it just throws some money around and wages negative campaigns at the last minute, they can slow down progress to combat global warming and promote a zero waste society.

Our priority issues:

Join us to make sure the ban of Styrofoam passes and includes meat trays; dirty and polluting black liquor is eliminated from our RPS laws; support for language to move towards pay-as-you-throw is kept in the bill; and incineration of our valuable waste resources is removed or diminished as a waste management option in DC.

Join us! We need you.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network

4
Jul

Mayor Gray Opposes Council Waste Bill!

Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:07:29 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

“I urge the Council to reject this legislation.”- Mayor Vincent Gray

 

Zero Waste Letter to Council

 

DC Environmental Network:

2014-07-03_0-29-13As we all move into our 4th of July weekend I wanted to share some important news.

Yesterday, the Anacostia Riverkeeper, Anacostia Watershed Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, DC Environmental Network, DC Statehood Green Party, Earthjustice, Energy Justice Network, Foundation Earth, Global Bees, Global Green USA, Green Cross International, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Potomac Riverkeeper and Sierra Club DC Chapter all united around a simple message.

We want zero waste in DC!

All of us have been working very hard to pass Bill 20-641, the “Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014” to give the District a fighting chance to join cities like San Francisco, Taipei, Seattle, Copenhagen and Capannori, Italy in making zero waste a priority.

Surprisingly, Mayor Vincent Gray sent a letter to the DC Council saying, “I urge the Council to reject this legislation.” He even went so far as to reject a policy, Pay As You Throw (PAYT), that is a cornerstone of his very own Sustainable DC Plan.

Well the whole world pretty much knows that zero waste policies work, are already in place in communities around the world, and can be a stimulus for economic development and healthy communities.

You can learn the whole story in the the letter the environmental community sent to the DC Council in support of their efforts to move the District in this important direction.

dump truck final

We also asked that the District adopt a zero waste hierarchy and eliminate incineration from the list of solid waste management strategies. Incineration is a policy of the past and has no place in our neighborhoods or the communities that surround the District of Columbia.

It’s time for us all to work together to bring our waste management policies into the current century.

Click here to read the letter.

Let me know if your organization can sign-on to this letter. We will be sending an update to the Council sometime next week.

Sincerely,

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network