Category Archives: Recycle waste


“Death by Design” is our film on Oct 9.

This film exposes the extent to which the booming electronics industry damages the environment and impacts public health in many countries where our devices are made and materials are extracted and processed. But, it also helps the viewer make more informed choices and join effective channels of activism.

Consumers love – and live on – their smartphones, tablets and laptops. A cascade of new devices pours endlessly into the market, promising even better communication, non-stop entertainment and instant information.

The numbers are staggering. By 2020, four billion people will have a personal computer. Five billion will own a mobile phone. But this revolution has a dark side, hidden from most consumers.

In an investigation that spans the globe investigates the hidden underbelly of the electronics industry and reveals how even the smallest devices have deadly environmental and health costs.

Searching Electronics Waste pile

From the intensely secretive factories in China, to a ravaged New York community and the high tech corridors of Silicon Valley, the film tells a story of environmental degradation, of health tragedies, and the fast approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability.

Some of the film’s heroes are whistleblowers, innovative recyclers, and a small Irish company that builds a fair-trade/sustainable computer.

The 73-minute film has SDH captions and will be followed by an optional discussion.


September Meeting – Recycling: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

Sustainable Rossmoor’s guest at the September meeting on was Jim Nejedly. Jim is the President of the Board of the Central Contra Costa Sanitation District. He is the General Manager of the Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery (Recycling) Center. He described the recycling processes we often take for granted. He explained challenges we face now that China does not accept many recycle materials.

Jim described the Mt. Diablo Recycling Center. The center moves 400 tons of recycling materials daily. Paper represents almost 40% of what the Center recycles. A big problem for recycling is plastic bags. Plastic bags “gum up” machinery. Jim urged the audience to place bags in one plastic bag. He gave several ways we can help the recycling process.

  1. recycle plastics marked with 1, 2, and 3
  2. recycle glass, aluminum, tin, newspaper, and cardboard
  3. rinse and scrape jars and cans
  4. don’t put items like car seats and carpeting into the recycling bins
  5. reuse items.

Jim talked about Recycle Smart. Recycle Smart is developing a system for Rossmoorians to recycle usable items such as clothing. The Recycle Smart web site describes how it is delivering high quality, cost effective solid waste reduction, recycling, and refuse programs. These provide and promote sustainability in our communities. The site has tips and tools for homes, schools, and businesses.

Check the Center’s Facebook page at

What Goes Where: Recycle & Compost List

Why recycle & compost? If you don’t sort your trash, we all pay. The costs are part of our coupon. If your entry needs a large landfill container because recyclable items aren’t separated, you waste $500 to $1000 a year. It will increase. By 2020, the State of California will require all trash companies to divert 75% of the waste they haul – or they face huge fines which will be passed on to us.

How you can help… If you’re like many Rossmoor residents, you want to put trash in correct containers but, at times, you’re unclear about what goes where. Here are answers to questions Rossmoor residents have asked:

AEROSOL CANS & PROPANE CYLINDERS. They are flammable, even when empty. See HAZARDOUS WASTE below.

APPLIANCES. See HAZARDOUS WASTE. Rapid Recycle, (925) 671-8088, will remove for a fee.

MATTRESSES & BOX SPRINGS: Bay Area Recycle, (925-465-5576), will remove for a fee.

BATTERIES. Small batteries go in box just inside Gateway entrance. See HAZARDOUS WASTE.

BOOKS. Put paperback and hardback books, phone books, and spiral notebooks in RECYCLE (container or bin with blue lid). Give books, books-on-tape and DVDs in good condition to a local library or thrift store.

BOTTLES, CARTONS & CANS. Remove lids before putting in RECYCLE. Make sure bottles, cartons and cans are dry. If necessary, invert and air-dry.

CAPS, LIDS & PULL TABS. Metal lids go in RECYCLE. Flip-top tabs (e.g., from aluminum cans), plastic lids, rings and caps go in LANDFILL (container or bin with black lid).

CARDBOARD BOXES. Breakdown and flatten so they fit in RECYCLE. If a box is big or hard to break down or if you have several boxes, take up to MOD Corporation Yard/Dumpster Site. Leave room for your neighbors!

CELLOPHANE. Cellophane bags and wrap go in LANDFILL. Envelopes with cellophane windows go in RECYCLE. (Cellophane crinkles.)

CONSTRUCTION DEBRIS. Residents can bring recyclable debris to MOD. If you see construction debris being dumped in a trash enclosure, immediately email with as much information as possible. If Mutual Operations is closed, call Securitas, (925) 988-7899.

DIRT. MOD accepts dirt if it’s in a pot or bag.

DVD & CD DISCS. Recent DVDs and CD discs go in LANDFILL. Discs older than 20 years often contain toxic chemicals and should NOT go in landfill. BEST BUY will accept them. Cut discs with personal data in half. Do NOT try to break in half – they splinter.


FOOD WASTE. If you don’t have COMPOST (green container), put compostable trash in LANDFILL. Food scraps (raw and cooked); bones; corks; flowers, plant trimmings; leaves; tissue paper; paper plates, towels, napkins, other soiled paper; and pizza boxes go in COMPOST. Loose waste is preferred, but food scraps in a paper bag, newspaper or compostable bag are OK. (Biodegradable bags are NOT!) To keep container from getting grody, put newspapers or dry leaves at bottom before adding food waste.


GIVE IT AWAY. Here are some options: — WALNUT CREEK FREECYCLE is a resource for giving stuff to others rather than throwing it away: — LEFTOVERS THRIFT SHOP, a non-profit thrift store at 2281 Olympic Blvd, Walnut Creek, accepts secondhand clothing, housewares and collectibles. — GOODWILL, 2536 N Main St, Walnut Creek, accepts pre-owned clothing, furniture, housewares.

HAZARDOUS WASTE. Aerosols & propane cylinders; ammunition; anything with an electric cord (small appliances and lamps); automotive products (used motor oil, antifreeze); batteries; electronics (TVs, computers, DVD player, cell phones); paint (all types); fluorescent light bulbs (straight or coiled); pesticides and household cleaners; thermometers and other products with mercury can be picked up by AT YOUR DOOR, or 1-800449-7587. If the scheduler balks at picking up small appliances, assert the pickup is in Walnut Creek.

ITEMS LEFT OUTSIDE CONTAINERS. Your mutual is billed extra if trash containers are overflowing or if items like furniture or folded boxes are left outside containers. This increases your monthly coupon.

LIGHT BULBS. Standard, LED and halogen light bulbs go into LANDFILL. Fluorescent light bulbs (straight or coiled) are HAZARDOUS WASTE.

MATTRESSES & BOX SPRINGS: Bay Area Recycle, (925) 465-5576, will remove for a fee.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT. John Muir Clinic, Goodwill and others accept everything from hospital beds to walking canes. RACORSE NETWORK in Oakland, (510) 251-2273 both accepts and gives them to the uninsured, disadvantaged, ill and elderly.

MEDICATIONS & NEEDLES (SHARPS). Sharps, which go in RED BOX, must be in a hard container (not a soft, plastic baggie). Keep medications in their original container (but mark out personal information), put in a sealable plastic bag, then put in BEIGE BOX in the lobby at Gateway. (Keep lids on tubes. Put medication patches in a baggie or the original box.)

OVERFLOWING CONTAINERS: Your mutual is billed extra if trash bins are overflowing. Having the lid up makes it easier for raccoons to get in and leave a trail of trash. Plus raccoon pee stinks! If your entry’s container is overflowing and needs an extra pickup, call Mary Ann at MOD, (925) 988-7650. (A fee is charged for extra LANDFILL service.) If RECYCLE containers are often overflowing, your mutual director can order twice a week pickup for free.

PACKING MATERIAL. See PLASTIC BAGS for instructions on bubble wrap and air pillows. Bag the peanuts. Put Styrofoam and other packing material in LANDFILL. Or bring clean packing material to the UPS Store at Rossmoor Shopping Center.
PAPER. Cash register receipts, metallic paper and carbon paper go into LANDFILL. Paper napkins, towels, plates, cups, “to go” cardboard boxes and tissue paper go in COMPOST. Shredded paper in a paper or see-thru plastic bag, other clean paper and Post-its go in RECYCLE.

PLASTIC. Soft plastic goes in LANDFILL. All hard plastic (with or without numbers) goes in RECYCLE. Items must be EMPTY and DRY, not perfectly clean, just dry. Plastic cannot be bonded to metal or paper (NO bubble-padded mailers). Republic Services wants all RECYCLE items to be loose (not inside a paper or plastic bag) – except for the bags of plastic bags or shredded paper.

PLASTIC BAGS. Bag the bags! Put clean, dry, plastic bags; plastic wrap; popped bubble wrap; and popped plastic air pillows in a plastic bag. You don’t need to remove paper labels. Before putting in RECYCLE, knot the top of the plastic bag to form a plastic “pillow.”

PRINTER INK CARTRIDGES. Drop off at the Computer Center in Gateway Complex.

SELL IT. You can sell stuff on CRAIGSLIST or use HOME CONSIGNMENT CENTER, 1901 Camino Ramon # F, Danville.

STYROFOAM. All Styrofoam goes in LANDFILL.

TRASH HAULERS. Couches, mattresses, carpeting, and other large items don’t belong in the black, blue or green containers. If MOD won’t accept them, they need to be hauled away. Trash haulers who have good reviews on include Rays Hauling, Vets Move Junk, East Bay Hauling, Lamorinda Hauling, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and All American Hauling.

What Goes to MOD? MOD accepts cardboard boxes, grass cuttings, tree and shrub trimmings, wood products, plywood siding, decking, tree logs, furniture that is not upholstered, dirt in a pot or bag, and recyclable construction material from residents. Be ready to show your Rossmoor ID to staff at the site.

More Information…Recycle and landfill posters are in the Rossmoor phonebook, pages 18 and 19. RecycleSmart has a more detailed list:

Trash, Recycle or Compost, DOWNLOADABLE

From Toilet to Tap

Remember the 1995 movie “Waterworld”? It was set in a future when the raised sea levels covered all continents on Earth after the melting of polar ice caps. At the beginning of the film, Kevin Costner’s character urinated into a plastic cup, ran it through a homemade purifying system consisting of a series of tubes and a pump, and drank the effluent that came out of it. I was so grossed out by that scene that I never watched the rest of the movie. I wasn’t alone. This “yuck” factor has been one of the biggest hurdles for communities that have considered direct potable reuse (DPR) of municipal wastewater (sewage), despite the fact that the technology has long been available to treat wastewater to the level that is safe for drinking. If you feel the same way about DPR as I did before, now is time to do some rethinking.

There was not a drop of rain in Walnut Creek last month. We had some rain in January, but how much more rain and snow we will get this winter in Northern California is anybody’s guess. The water rationing we lived through in the recent past is likely to happen again. Yet we continue to use drinking water for almost everything, including flushing toilets and watering lawns and plants.

In 2016, Central Sanitary District cleaned an average of 32 million gallons of wastewater each day. Only 10 percent of it was recycled. For years in California, the lingering drought and population growth have sent public officials scrambling for more drinking water supply, and tremendous efforts were made at state and local levels in an attempt to make potable reuse of recycled water a reality.

Those efforts culminated in Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of a new law last October that requires the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt, by the end of 2023, uniform water recycling criteria for DPR through “raw water augmentation” – adding treated wastewater into a system of pipelines or aqueducts that deliver raw water to a drinking water treatment plant that provides water to a public water system.

Up till now, the planned use of recycled water to supplement drinking water supplies has been limited to indirect potable reuse (IPR). The difference between direct and indirect potable reuse is that the IPR process includes an environmental buffer and DPR doesn’t. In IPR, highly treated municipal wastewater is injected into groundwater basins or discharged into surface water reservoirs that are used as sources of drinking water. The recycled water remains within these natural bodies for some period of time until pumped out by a drinking water treatment plant. Using recycled water to replenish groundwater basins has been practiced in California for over 50 years, primarily in Southern California.

To date, according to a report published by the State Water Board, there are eight approved projects in the state that use recycled water to replenish groundwater for potable reuse, and more than a dozen projects are being planned by local groundwater management agencies and water utilities. However, using recycled water to augment surface water reservoirs has not been implemented in California because of the public perception factor.

Currently there are only two DPR projects operating worldwide as a permanent source of drinking water. One was in Windhoek, Namibia, which started operation in 1968 during a prolonged drought, and continued as a source of supply after the drought emergency passed. The other project is in Big Spring, Texas. The regional water agency there began to consider using treated wastewater as a new water source during an extended drought cycle that started in the 1990s. Its DPR facility began operating in May 2013, serving several cities including Big Spring, Odessa and Midland. However, no DPR regulations exist today in the United States at the federal or the state level. The projects that were, or are being, approved by the state of Texas have been evaluated on a caseby-case basis.

California’s effort to develop statewide standards for DPR began in 2010 when the Legislature enacted legislation that directed the Department of Public Health to investigate the feasibility of developing uniform water recycling criteria for direct potable use, and to report back to the Legislature by the end of 2016. The responsibility was later transferred to the State Water Board.

The new law signed by the governor last October was the result of that five-year feasibility study. So, 22 years after the film “Waterworld” grossed me out, California has moved one step closer to ensuring that treated municipal wastewater is safe for drinking. And we’re reaching the point that the concept of “toilet to tap” should no longer repel us.

This article first appeared in the January 24, 2018 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Jennifer Mu can be reached at barnhartmu8833@

Addicted To Plastic


WHEN: Wed, Jan 10, 7:00-8:30 pm

WHERE: Peacock Hall

DESCRIPTION:  Plastic is everywhere — for better and worse: floating ocean swirls as big as Texas, artificial organs, water bottles, and wind turbines. This film explores the history of plastic and how it came to dominate our lives. From styrofoam cups to automobiles, plastics are perhaps the most ubiquitous and versatile material ever invented. No invention in the past 100 years has had more influence and presence. But this progress has come at a cost.

No ecosystem or segment of human activity has escaped the grasp of plastic. ADDICTED TO PLASTIC is a global journey to investigate an industry worth $375 billion/year in the US alone. Review what we really know about the material of a thousand uses and why there’s so much of it. On the way we discover a toxic legacy and about some of its effects on our health.

We also meet some men and women dedicated to cleaning it up — groups dedicated to physically cleaning up the beaches and the oceans. We learn from experts about cutting edge solutions in recycling plastic and what actually happens when newer plastics biodegrade. These solutions will provide viewers with a new perspective about our future with plastic. It’s also an opportunity to examine our role in a throwaway culture.

85 minutes long. Captions available.


In recent years there has been considerable industry pushback against research demonstrating the adverse health effects of plastics.

Tips for reducing your exposure to the toxins in plastic

  • Use glass cups for drinking.
  • Instead of plastic water bottles, use stainless steel or glass.
  • Use glass containers for food storage.
  • Never heat food in plastic containers.
  • Use parchment paper or beeswax fabric instead of plastic wrap.
  • Avoid canned foods, as the linings typically contain BPA or a BPA alternative.
  • Read labels on cosmetics and personal care products, and avoid those that contain phthalates in the ingredients list.
  • Skip the receipt, as most have a BPA or equivalent coating.
  • Choose wood or fabric toys for children instead of plastic.

Recycling Center Tour – Wed Oct 18

Wed Oct 18, 2017
Recycling Center Tour
9:45 Depart from Gateway lot
Reservation required.

Join Rossmoor’s Trash Talkers and other members of Sustainable Rossmoor for a private tour of our recycling processing plant in Pittsburg on the morning of Wednesday, October 18. We’ll visit the Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery Center, whose commitment is to recover natural resources, save energy, and preserve the environment. It’s the nation’s top-ranked recycling plant for resource recovery. The tour is about 45 minutes and begins with photos and a talk about the history and workings of the plant while sitting down. Then there’s a walk through the facility. It is handicap accessible; plan to wear closed-toed shoes. Hard hats will be provided.

This plant processes recyclables from almost all of Contra Costa, receiving over 100 tons daily. The contents of our blue recycling bins get sorted by hand and by machine and made ready to send to buyers who will make them into something new again. See trucks as big as some houses dump their contents; then watch cardboard, plastic bottles, and tin cans respond to giant magnets, blowers, tumblers, and travel down conveyor belts. It makes it easy to see why we are being asked not to bag our recyclables anymore; the whole process is smoother when our items are loose.

For a preview, of what to expect, here’s a 3 minute video:

We will depart the Farmers Market corner of Gateway parking lot at 9:45 AM and return about noon. For more information, or to join a carpool, contact: Carol Weed at or 510-409-4055.

RecycleSmart will be at Rossmoor’s Earth Day April 21

Sustainable Rossmoor is proud to welcome RecyleSmart (Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority) as major sponsor of Earth Day on Friday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in and around the Fireside Room at Gateway Clubhouse and plaza area.

RecycleSmart is the solidwaste authority that services Rossmoor. Its service area also includes Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville and large areas of Contra Costa County adjacent to those municipalities.

RecycleSmart contracts with Republic Services to pick up and handle Rossmoor’s trash. There are three categories of trash– what goes to the landfill (black containers), what can be recycled (blue containers) and what is organic and can be composted (green containers). Currently, Rossmoor does not have pick up for composting. Everything that could be going into green containers for composting is put into the black landfill containers.

RecycleSmart provides colorful placards that can be placed in trash enclosures. The placards graphically indicate what goes into which container. Many trash enclosures in Rossmoor don’t have these useful placards. If residents find that the enclosures near them don’t have placards, they can contact their Mutual directors to request them. Mutual directors can also be contacted about having a composting pick up in Rossmoor.

Outreach programs

RecycleSmart does much more than just pick up trash. It has many outreach programs for recycling and composting. Its composting program recently received the 2016 Composting Program of the Year award by the U.S. Composting Council. RecycleSmart conducts multiple free composting workshops in many locations throughout their service area and offers various size composting bins for sale.

School outreach programs are very important to RecycleSmart. As its website states, “Our team provides free technical assistance to public and private schools, school districts and custodial and food services staff, including on-site training. We also provide free recycling and organics containers, free signs and stickers, lesson plans, school assemblies and field trips and other resources. Plus, we recognize schools that significantly reduce waste with awards of up to $1,500.”

Every year some lucky high school seniors are awarded scholarships of up to $4,000 by RecycleSmart in partnership with Mt. Diablo Recycling, the Pittsburg company that handles that city’s recycling. Students submit an application describing how they have implemented a waste reduction program or made significant contributions to reducing waste at their school.

RecycleSmart also rewards businesses for their recycling efforts. In 2016, 12 local businesses received awards including Whole Foods and Lunardi’s in Walnut Creek. Two Walnut Creek restaurants also received awards – Mona’s Burgers & Shakes and Walnut Creek Yacht Club.

For information, visit the RecyleSmart website at <www.>. Be sure to stop by the RecycleSmart exhibit in the Fireside Room on Earth Day and hear the talk “What Goes In Your Recycle Bin?” in Multipurpose Room 1. Earth Day will be a well-attended event and parking fills up quickly, so busing, carpooling, biking and walking are encouraged. Visit the Sustainable Rossmoor website at <>.

By Barbara Coenen, Earth Day correspondent

Article reprinted from Rossmoor News, vol 51, No. 1 – 15MAR2017