July 14 2014 Policy Committee Meeting Approved Minutes


MONDAY, JULY 14, 2014, 5:00 P.M.


COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair) and Ruth Gravanis


1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis.  Department of the Environment Director Deborah Raphael was present. 

2. Approval of Minutes of the June 9, 2014 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document:  June 9, 2014 Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the June 9, 2014 Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis). 

3. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

Item 7 was heard before Item 4.

4. Zero Waste Compliance Update.  Speaker:  Robert Haley, Zero Waste Manager (Informational Report and Discussion)

Department of the Environment Zero Waste Manager Robert Haley reported on San Francisco’s Zero Waste enforcement, mandates, incentives, outreach and programs.  He reported that programs have been created to recover about ninety percent of what is discarded in San Francisco.  The last ten percent will require changing the way that some poorly designed products are manufactured.  Mr. Haley discussed the importance of outreach and the need to utilize financial incentives and disincentives to influence people to use the programs. He discussed the effectiveness of mandates in making sure that people do the right thing and making outreach more streamlined and effective.   Mr. Haley discussed the Department’s limited enforcement role and its work encouraging compliance and engaging other City departments such as the Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health to provide enforcement.  The two laws that the Department is able to enforce include the Bottled Water and Construction and Demolition Debris Recovery ordinances. Director Raphael reported that the Outreach team is working on identifying ways for the Department to evolve its compliance messaging. 

Mr. Haley reported on Department staff and Recology’s work on compliance with the following ordinances: (1) Mandatory Recycling and Composting; (2) Construction and Demolition Debris Recovery; (3) Food Service Waste Reduction; (4) Plastic Bag Reduction; (5) Bottled Water; (6) Resource Conservation Ordinance; (7) Environmentally Preferable Purchasing; and (8) Surplus Disposal.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired about work being done on product labeling.  Mr. Haley reported that the Department is working with the state in this effort and doing better especially in the area of compostable product labeling.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired about challenges that are being faced.  Mr. Haley reported that there are challenges with people who have not accepted service such as multi-tenant apartment buildings and businesses and understanding what material goes where.  He stated that resources for providing more outreach and sufficient education is needed.  Mr. Haley reported on work and discussions in progress with Recology to expand their Tunnel Road facility and add processing for incorrect items placed in black bins.  

Recology Community and Government Affairs Manager Paul Giusti reported on the success of Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health’s enforcement mechanisms in buildings that do not have service or adequate service and in providing outreach.  

Commissioner Wald suggested that Recology through its advertising bill inserts and the Department advertise what is required and reasons for doing it and praise people for accomplishments achieved so that people are more invested in programs.  She suggested adding the metrics of progress made on the Department’s website and advertising the problem product of the month.  Mr. Haley reported on the availability of Recology’s website to identify what bins products should be placed (www.Whatbin.com) and the Department’s (www.RecycleWhere.com). Director Raphael suggested that a public outreach presentation be made at a future Commission meeting on the website. Commissioner Wald suggested placing advertising banners leading the public to the website at strategic locations.  

Public Comment:

Ms. Lurilla Harris suggested training people at the City Hall cafeteria on what products go in what bin. Department of the Environment Zero Waste Senior Coordinator Julie Bryant reported that training was provided to cafeteria staff in the past, and that a refresher course may be required.

Mr. David Pilpel inquired whether the Committee has heard about progress made on black bin processing.  Mr. Haley discussed the need to process the black bin to extract recyclables and compostables in a new expanded facility.  He reported that research and development (R&D) is underway for low temperature mechanical/biological ways of extracting material.  Mr. Pilpel suggested that loads that are not source separated correctly be rejected.  Mr. Haley reported on when that can happen and that additional charges can be imposed if green and blue bins are contaminated with trash.   Director Raphael reported that the menu of enforcement approaches that can be taken will be reviewed once they are refined.  Mr. Pilpel suggested that the Committee be briefed on new developments on the landfill agreement and asked that Recology quarterly reports to the City be made public.

5. Department of Technology (DT) Assessment of Commission on the Environment San Francisco Government Television (SFGovTV) cablecast.  Speaker:  Jack Chin, General Manager, SFGovTV (Informational Report and Discussion) 

Commission Secretary Monica Fish reported that Department of Technology General Manager Jack Chin had requested that this item be continued to a future meeting.  This item was continued to the August 11, 2014 Policy Committee meeting.

6. Review and Approval of 2012 Buy Green Ordinance for City Staff Annual Report: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Ordinance (EPP) for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment.  (Explanatory Document:  2012 Annual Report and Presentation) Speaker:  Jessian Choy, City Toxics Reduction Specialist (Discussion and Action)

City Toxics Reduction Specialist Jessian Choy presented the 2012 Buy Green Ordinance for City Staff Annual Report and discussed why it is important that City staff purchase green products.  She reported that forty-three percent of chemicals in the United States have not been fully assessed for toxic health impacts, and that the City’s Precautionary Purchasing legislation mandates that the City buy required green products (that can be found on the www.SFApproved.org) to reduce health impacts. Ms. Choy reported that Department staff works with City department and City Purchasing department staff to assess product performance and cost in an effort to lower impact on health and the environment.    

Ms. Choy reported on 2012 Annual Report highlights that include a redesigned SFApproved.org website and a disinfectants report.  She discussed the importance of using less toxic disinfectants in reducing health impacts. Statistics were provided of what the City spent on green products and types of products purchased.  A discussion was held on new ways that make it easier for staff to buy green and City department ideas on how to influence people to buy green products. 
Director Raphael suggested sharing best practices from City departments that have a better record of buying green products with those that purchase fewer products.  Ms. Choy and Integrated Pest Management Manager Dr. Chris Geiger discussed citywide IT contracts that have been established that make it easier to purchase green products. Commissioner Wald suggested creating multiple centralized City warehouses of acceptable products to provide to Departments that use the products and discussed the benefits this could provide by purchasing at an economy of scale and control of the inventory.  She suggested considering rewarding departments that do not have a central warehouse for partnering with those that do.  Dr. Chris Geiger discussed the role of citywide contracts in this effort. 

Commissioner Wald suggested outreach to the public so people can make use of this information in their personal household and in businesses. She suggested expanding the program to the Green Business program and providing decals to green businesses that advertise what elements make the business green as a way to promote the business and to educate the public on resources available. Director Raphael suggested mining data trends in 2013 and presenting information on challenges seen with product categories and which departments excel and why.  Commissioner Wald suggested rewarding and listing leaders in green purchasing.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested researching why City departments have expenditures in bottled water when the City is trying to get away from bottled water purchases.

Public Comment:  

Mr. David Pilpel suggested that the Committee further discuss at a meeting how the Green Business program relates to City purchasing. He suggested that discussions be held with the Office of Contract Administration and City departments about the idea of central warehouses and integrating purchasing efforts.   Mr. Pilpel spoke in support of listing employee names responsible for purchasing and suggested adding a list of all departments, amount spent on products, and what percentage is green.  He suggested working with stores to remove products that should not be sold.

Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the 2012 Buy Green Ordinance for City Staff Annual Report was approved for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. A request was made to incorporate suggestions made in the 2013 Buy Green Annual Report.  (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis and Wald)

7. Director’s Update. Deborah Raphael, Director (Discussion) 

Department of the Environment Director Deborah Raphael reported on her work with the Department’s Zero Waste and Policy teams, Mayor’s Office, and relevant parties to explore solutions to make sure that San Francisco is in compliance with state law in providing convenient recycling redemption centers to the public.  She explained that the closing of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council’s Recycling Center (HANC) and scheduled closing of Safeway redemption centers will put San Francisco out of compliance with state law in terms of convenience zones.  Commissioner Wald suggested (1) writing an Op-ed in the Chronicle informing people that it is important for San Francisco to comply with state law and (2) talking with the California Conservation Corps who is funded by the bottle bill.  A discussion was held about the possibility of mobile redemption centers. 

Director Raphael reported on her work meeting with City agencies discussing the next evolution of the department, areas for partnerships, and opportunities for joint Commission meetings with the Department of Public Health. 

8. Communications.  (Explanatory Document:  Correspondence Log) (Information and Discussion) Commission Secretary Monica Fish provided a correspondence log of all communications received by the Commission.

9. Announcements. (Discussion)  There were no announcements made at this time.

10. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion) Commissioner Wald reported on agenda items for the August meeting that includes (1) Department of Technology assessment of Commission on the Environment San Francisco Government Television (SFGovTV) cablecast and discussions on how the Commission can encourage the public to watch the cablecast; and (2) School Education: how program is advertised to San Francisco residents so people can understand the value of the program and report on measure of success.  Discuss how the Commission can help in this effort.  Director Raphael would research whether the topic of Vision Zero would be heard at the August meeting. Commissioner Gravanis discussed the importance of pursuing Committee priorities established two years ago at future meetings versus items that are not related to the environment.

Ideas discussed for future meetings include (1) Zero Waste: briefing on the landfill contract, smart consumerism and manufacturing, black bin processing and new technologies; (2) discussion of alternatives to CleanPowerSF; (3) the role of purchasing and expanding the sharing economy;  (4) methodologies for labeling carbon footprint of products and Department’s role in securing funding; and (5) follow-up discussions about the meeting held with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), plans for future meetings with the SFPUC and with other Commissions.

Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel suggested that the Vision Zero topic not be brought to the Committee as it does not directly relate to the environment and discussed the role of the Policy and Operations Committees as it relates to the School Education and SFGTV agenda items.  He suggested future agenda items that include: a briefing on the landfill process and how it relates to the end of landfills for the City, the Green Business program, and follow-up discussion on the SFPUC joint meeting.  Mr. Pilpel suggested that Director Raphael work with other City department heads that would work with their staff to make programs more effective. 

11. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. 

Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel suggested that the Department show green film festival films at the Department or City Hall as a way to educate the public and bring people together.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that Department Brown Bag events could provide an opportunity to show films.

12. Adjournment.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee is scheduled for Monday, August 11, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. in City Hall, Room 421.

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, California, 94103 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Photo identification is required for access to the building; (2) on the Policy Committee’s website http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/agendas, or (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected]. The meeting audio can be reviewed at the website link by meeting date http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/audio. 

Approved: August 11, 2014