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Re: [GreenYes] greasy paper plates
In my Cro-Magnon mind,
it seems that restaurant oil and grease in the sewers is BAD
and restaurant oil and grease down the garbage disposals is BAD (though perhaps less so)
and using disposable foodware is BAD
I suspect Sharon is saying: can't we avoid all three?
Can't we reduce our impacts on land, water and air (all at the same time)?
However, what I also heard in Sharon's question was a question I have:
Are there compelling lifecycle studies that compare the overall environmental impacts of washing dishes with using disposable foodware?
again, using my grunt logic:
it seems that the overall impacts of disposables is way higher than reusables because
for disposables
    water use/pollution occurs at the extraction/manufacturing stages
for reusables
    water use/pollution occurs at the use stage
so I'm calling that, at worst, a draw
however, disposables have the additional liabilities of many more materials consumed and pollution created per single use
plus the additional landfill impacts
I know there are details, assumptions, and exceptions ad naseum.
I have also seen the conflicting (and misleading) studies done for disposable vs. cloth diapers (which are, of course, a similar analysis but not exactly the same).
but has anyone found any "definative studies" from "authoritative sources"
that might help me determine if this crude logic holds up under scrutiny?
Van Calvez, MSE, CPE
Human Nature Solutions
730 Ericksen Avenue, Suite 114
Bainbridge, Washington 98110
phone: (206) 855-9271
fax: (206) 855-9272
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, October 03, 2002 7:59 AM
Subject: [GreenYes] restaurant oil and grease

The Long Beach Water Department has produced a brochure for restaurant owners about BMPs for keeping fats, oils, and grease out of the sewers.  Unfortunately, one of their recommendations is that restaurants use disposable paper products instead of washable dishware.  I would like to recommend a change to their brochure, but wonder if this issue of "waste water vs. solid waste" has been addressed somewhere else.  It seems that most agencies are either waste water or solid waste, and very few deal with both.  I tried contacting the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (who do handle both solid waste and waste water) and the gentleman with whom I spoke didn't seem to understand why recommending disposables would be a problem.  His attitude seemed to be that since there was landfill space, better to send stuff to the landfill than put it into the sewer.  The gentleman e-mailed me factsheets that th! e Sanitation Districts send out, and they go even further with disposables.  The Sanitation Districts recommend the use of paper towels so that grease doesn't get into the sewers from washing machine wastewater!  It doesn't require much imagination to take this to its logical conclusion -- single-use everything (clothing, equipment, cars, buildings...), throw it all away.  Come to think of it, that's not a far stretch for what we already have :-(.

My instinct is to recommend that the Water Dept. just  remove any reference to disposables.  It seems to me that following the other oil and grease BMPs would keep grease out of the sewer without adding to the solid waste stream.  Have other agencies addressed restaurant oil/grease while also incorporating an understanding of solid waste reduction?  I would like to be able to put my recommendation(s) in terms to which the Water Department will be receptive.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sharon Gates
Recycling Specialist
City of Long Beach, California

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