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07.16 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

*RESCHEDULED MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Monday, July 16, 2007, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102 


 

*The Monday, July 9, 2007, 5:00 p.m. Policy Committee Regular Meeting was rescheduled to Monday, July 16, 2007 at 5:00 p.m.

 

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

 

Commission Secretary:  Monica Fish

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment’s Policy Committee meeting was called to order at 5:07 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald and Commissioner Gravanis (Absent:  Commissioner King).

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the June 11, 2007 Policy Committee Meeting (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the June 11, 2007 Policy Committee Meeting) (Discussion and Action). Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the June 11, 2007 Policy Committee Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent:  Commissioner King).

 

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.

 

4.      Urban Environmental Accord Action 5-Waste Reduction.  Adopt a citywide law that reduces the use of a disposable, toxic, or nonrenewable product category by at least fifty percent in seven years. This Meeting will continue the Committee’s focus on reducing use of bottled water in San Francisco. The Committee will hear from representatives of water bottlers regarding their operations and environmental protection efforts.  (Informational Presentation and Discussion) (Explanatory Document:  Overview of Bottled Water Presentation)

   SPONSORS:  Commissioner Johanna Wald and Director Jared Blumenfeld

SPEAKERS:  Patrick Donoho, Vice President of Government Relations, International Bottled Water          Association and Dr. David Palais C.HG., Natural Resource Manager, Nestle Waters North America.

 

Chair Wald reported on the Commission’s concern with bottled water because of the environmental cost of production, transportation, and recycling efforts and community impacts.  Mr. Donoho presented an overview of the bottled water industry addressing four main areas of interest--the bottled water market, regulations, containers, and water use.  Additional information on these topics is available in the explanatory document above.

 

BOTTLED WATER MARKET

 

·         Bottled Water Market:  Two primary markets, retail (80%) and home/office delivery market.  The home/office delivery market has existed for a long time in the United States.  The explosive growth of the bottled water market is primarily a result of the retail market in containers of less than 2.5 gallons; however, bottled water is sold in a variety of different venues. 

·         Bottled Water Consumption:  Water consumption in 2006 was 8.2 billion gallons; per capita that totals 27.6 gallons per person per year.  In 2005, California ranked #1 among states for percentage of the total U.S. market, but was ranked #3 in per capita consumption.  The average bottled water consumer in California drinks .7 liters a day. 

·         2000 “Share of Stomach.”  In 2000, bottled water represented 10% of the “share of stomach,” carbonated soft drinks 33%, beer 14%, and milk 14% (see chart). 

·         2006 “Share of Stomach.”  Carbonated soft drinks fell to 26.3%, bottled water grew to 14.4%, milk fell to 10.9%, and beer fell to 11.3%.  The U.S. population has moved away from carbonated choices and towards a healthier choice of water.

·         2006 Advertising Expenditures.  Annual expenditures for bottled water advertising for 2006 was $52.8 million; beer was $1.031.4 million; however, the consumer purchased more bottled water in 2006.

 

BOTTLED WATER REGULATION

 

·         Bottled Water Regulation:  In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the individual states regulate bottled water as a food product.  The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has a code of practice that is more stringent than the FDA’s or the State’s.  The European Union and Codex Alimentarius Commission all have regulatory schemes. A discussion was held on primary U.S. Federal Regulations for bottled water standard of quality, specifically Section 410 of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Bottled Water Standard of Identity, and enforcement of regulations.  It was explained that as a regulated food product, the FDA has jurisdiction so long as any component part travels in interstate commerce and as a result very few bottlers are able to evade FDA standards. 

·         Bottled Water Identity Labeling:  Standards of identity are to educate consumers as to the type of products they are purchasing and must meet standards of its definition, e.g. purified water, natural waters.  Failure to do so means that it is misbranded and is subject to FDA enforcement.  

·         State Regulations of Bottled Water:  California regulates bottled water as a food product under the Sherman Act.  The Department of Public Health regulates bottled water with the same standards as public drinking water.    Two approaches to regulating bottled water:  Federal Food Model in the vast majority of states and the Environmental Protection Model.

 

CONTAINERS

 

·         Bottled Water Packaging.  Mr. Donoho stated that the Urban Environmental Accord Resolution states that there should be a reduction in the use of a disposable, toxic, or nonrenewable product category by at least fifty percent in seven years.  It was stated that a reduction would involve two aspects of the bottled water industry:  packaging and the waste stream. 

 

Single use containers are 100% recyclable and are made of materials approved for food contact by FDA.  PET and HDPE are the most common material used in plastics (PET is over one half the total bottled water volume and HDPE is used for larger gallons to 2.5 gallons).  77% of all PET bottles (by weight) and 2/3 of all PET water bottles are consumed at home, work or at restaurants.  The other category is the water cooler bottle, which is a polycarbonate that is 100% recyclable.  If recycled material is used, the process for which you recycle and the product result that you get when you recycle has to be approved by the FDA.  If you make modifications, it then has to be approved as a food contact substance. 

 

Mr. Donoho explained that all beverage containers (soft drink, water, and milk bottles) are only 5.7% of the total plastics generated each year ,and water bottles account for a third of one percent of the waste stream. Efforts to reduce environmental impact of packaging must focus on all consumer products, not just bottled water.  It was stated that the Bottled Water Industry is in the process of making their bottles lightweight to the maximum extent possible, which results in less plastics being used and less material going into the product.  Some IBWA members have reduced the water bottle down to 12 grams of plastic. 

 

WASTE STREAM

 

·         Waste Stream:  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that beverage containers are recycled at a rate of 31.5 %. Beverage containers are probably the most recycled product out of plastics. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann inquired as to what percentage of water bottles are recycled back into water bottles.  Mr. Donoho stated very few because the recycled content, the recycling process, and the recycling throughput has to have prior approval from the FDA in order to be used with a food contact substance. 

 

Mr. Donoho explained that it is important to (1) raise awareness to increase the recyclability of all products as many items are made from plastic (not to focus on only one category) and (2) improve the opportunity to recycle—how to get best management practices at municipal recycling facilities.  IBWA is participating with other associations as the founding member of the National Recycling Partnership whose goal is (1) to identify best management practices for municipal recycling facilities to increase throughput so that less goes to landfill and more goes to recyclers, and (2) a re-education campaign determining effective methods of communicating the recycling message to consumers.

 

Chair Wald asked if IBWA is researching different products to produce the bottles.  Mr. Donoho stated that has been done and there are members that use a corn-based product; however, the product has challenges in the way it withstands heat and contact with water.  There are members that still use glass, which is very expensive in terms of the environmental footprint and has different types of risks.

 

WATER RESOURCES

 

·         Water Resources:  33 states primarily east of the Mississippi have riparian laws, 17 states west of the Mississippi have prior appropriations which covers California. A USGS map was shown of consumptive use and renewable water supply by water resources region.  Mr. Donoho explained that water is a renewable resource if managed appropriately.  It was stated that the lower Colorado River, which is high desert, is using more in terms of consumptive uses than the renewal of the water--more water is being taken out than is replenished in the aquifers or streams.    

·         Water Use by the Bottled Water Industry:  The Bottled Water Industry is 0.02% of all groundwater withdrawals in the United States.  In 2006, 8.2 billion gallons of water was consumed  (22.6 million gallons per day in bottled water).  San Francisco uses 85.6 million gallons per day.  Commissioner Gravanis asked how much of that figure is for drinking water.  Mr. Donoho stated that the City’s public utility would have a better estimate. 

·         Bottled Water – Groundwater:  IBWA believes that there has to be a comprehensive management structure for sustainability of water resources.  It has to address quantity as well as quality.  The legislative and executive branches of government are the best agencies for this effort (not the judicial branch).  It was stated that competitive uses of water have resulted in a lot of conflict and is not a way to manage a resource.  IBWA has supported new water management laws in Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont in order to support a predictable and sustainable resource.

 

Dr. David Palais, Nestle Waters Presentation

 

Dr. David Palais introduced himself as the Natural Resources Manager with Nestle Waters North America, with a Ph.D. in Geology, and a Certified Hydrologist in California and other states.  Mr. Palais stated that he has been employed with Nestle Waters over 10 years with the last four years working in Northern California on a project in McCloud.  It was stated that Nestle Waters is the leader in the bottled water industry and has a successful track record being an environmentally conscious company and expects to continue being a leader with environmental stewardship in the industry.  Examples given included light weighting of bottles--Nestle has reduced their plastic use by 40% in the past 15 years; production of an eco-shaped bottle, the lightest bottle in the industry with 12.5 grams of plastic, which will result in a reduction in plastic use by 68 million pounds in 2008.  That results in less energy required to make the plastic, to transport it, and less plastic that goes into the waste stream.

 

Chair Wald asked if that is a reduction counting on expanded sales or the current number of bottles sold.  Mr. Palais stated that is the 2008 forecast for future reduction.  Mr. Palais explained that Nestle builds their factories to specifications set out by the U.S. Green Building Council and was the first food manufacturing facility to receive LEED Certification--five facilities are LEED certified, four are Silver rated.  Their President and CEO Kim Jeffrey has put forward three challenges to their company and to the industry as a whole which will further reduce plastic in the containers: (1) use as light a bottle as possible to use as less plastic as possible; (2) working and funding research to commercialize the next generation of packaging materials; and (3) to use renewable resources and biodegradable plastics.  It was stated that there are challenges that the industry is facing in that area, but leadership from companies like Nestle make it achievable and they will reach that goal. 

 

Mr. Palais reported that Nestle is supporting efforts to enact recycling programs to improve container legislation, which doesn’t just target a single industry but all containers regardless of whether they contain a beverage or other item. Nestle is participating in the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Demand (SEED) program.  One of SEED’s major focus is on bio-plastic packaging.  Nestle’s involvement and leadership in that goal will lead to different packaging material and bottle in the future. 

 

Mr. Palais reported that the McCloud Community Services District awarded the contract to Nestle Waters in September of 2003 after the District held a successful public meeting, at which time the Board of Directors approved the contract with Nestle unanimously. Nestle had then met with the Siskiyou County Planning Department to talk about steps to get their bottling facility up and running.  Nestle went through complete CEQA and NEPA Environmental Impact Reports over the last three years, and a Draft EIR had been circulated with a 60-day public comment period.  Following that public comment period, their consultant has been preparing responses to comments, and recirculation of a revised Draft EIR will follow.  Part of the their recommendation to the County to do this recirculation has come from discussions with local stakeholders in the area, e.g. California Trout, Trout Unlimited, and McCloud Watershed Council.  It was stated that the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council, Klamath Alliance for Resources in the Environment, Chamber of Commerce in Dunsmuir, a number of neighborhood organizations have endorsed Nestle Water and support the project. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis explained that one of the impetuses for putting this item on the agenda is from the Urban Environmental Accord as it relates to plastic water bottles fitting into a toxic product category.  It was stated that the Department and Commission have prioritized climate change issues and asked if any assessment and research have been done for the EIR of what the carbon footprint would be related to this specific program proposed for McCloud. Mr. Donoho stated that is a new phenomena for the industry to research; however, it is being researched.  Many of their customers are requesting that the industry reduce their environmental footprint, so there has been a significant shift in corporate culture in the last three to four years as it relates to climate.  Mr. Palais stated that there was an aspect of global warming addressed in one of the comments received in the public’s input from the first Draft EIR as the public thought it did not address the topic as thoroughly as it should have.  Mr. Palais stated that he expects to see a more focused section on that topic within the re-circulated Draft EIR.  

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked what estimates have been made for Nestle’s own purposes on what the carbon emissions would be from the plant itself for transporting bottles from the manufacturing facility to the plant, transporting the finished product to the distributor, then to the retailers, etc.  Mr. Palais stated that Nestle has provided funding to the County to oversee the EIR and are relying on the County experts to do that analysis.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that Nestle would have to provide part of the information to the County.  Mr. Palais stated that the County would determine potential impacts from Nestle’s estimates of truck traffic, of stationary or mobile sources of emissions, from the project description, times of operation, and what if any emissions are going to be from the factory (there are no emissions as there are no smokestacks in a bottled water factory).  Commissioner Gravanis asked where the bottles would be manufactured and where the material would originate.  Mr. Palais stated that the bottles would be manufactured on site and the material would be trucked in.  The plastic would come in as a granule pellet and no manufacturing of the plastic material would be done on site--the material would be brought in by truck and that same truck goes out with the finished product.

 

Chair Wald asked how many bottles would be produced in McCloud.  Mr. Palais stated that he does not have an estimate of the number of bottles. It was stated that Nestle has a contract with the service district that places a limit on how much water they can bottle.   There are three springs on average that produced about 10,000 acre-feet of water a year. The current use from all of their customers is about 1600 acre-feet in a year, and that cap has been placed on Nestle.  Nestle’s biggest facility in the country right now has not produced more than 1000 acre feet in a year and doubts they will get to the 1600 acre feet, which equals 520 million gallons.  Chair Wald asked how many bottles would be produced that would be recycled.  Mr. Palais stated that he would estimate based on the percentages that Mr. Donoho discussed rather than the absolute numbers.

 

Deputy Director Assmann stated that the FDA has allowed the use of recycled content as of 1990.  In other countries there are manufacturers that are putting up to 30% of recycled content in their plastic bottles, but that is not happening in the U.S. Mr. Donoho stated that is because of the challenges in meeting the standards of food contact and meeting the challenges of container design.  Mr. Donoho stated that he believes there are only one or two approved applications for containers for beverages for recycled content.  The challenge would be to have a clean process that adheres to the FDA system through the whole system and gives you enough feedstock to rely on.  Chair Wald stated that we have enough plastic bottles so we have enough feedstock.  Mr. Donoho stated that plastic bottles are only a small portion of the waste stream in terms of plastics. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann stated that plastic bottles are about the only plastics collected by most curbside programs, so it is not as if you are getting a lot of contamination from other plastics.  Mr. Donoho stated that there are other containers captured in curbside programs such as plastic food containers.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that most other containers being collected had been added to curbside programs within the past five years. Deputy Director Assmann advised that bottles have CRV value and there are streams for collection, but the issue is in the willingness to set up systems to incorporate recycled content into the packaging as well as the collection systems.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that from a sustainability viewpoint, you want to make things back into the same product as much as you can.  When you make plastic into carpet or plastic lumber, you are down-cycling it, and it really won’t be reused after that.  Mr. Donoho stated that the largest user of plastic in the U.S. is for durable goods, not containers and explained that there has to be a renewed commitment to recycling in the U.S

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Policy Committee at their May meeting heard from Ms. Bridgett Luther from the Department of Conservation that discussed California’s efforts to reduce waste and the goal of getting 80% of our beverage containers recycled in the state.  It was explained that it is a losing battle because even though more beverage containers have been recycled, the number of people in the state have increased and the number of bottles being purchased have increased.  It was explained that even though the state has put a lot of money into advertising for recycling, public relations, communications, and grants to research innovative ways to encourage people to recycle, it is not working.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that some responsibility should fall on the manufacturers of these products to make sure they do stay out of our landfills.  Mr. Donoho stated that he believes we all have a responsibility and 80% is an ambitious goal because you are trying to change human behavior.  It has to be done through a partnership between industries, consumers, and elected/appointed officials.  It has to be everybody’s responsibility. Mr. Donoho explained that the IBWA has funded a project with the National Recycling Coalition to re-brand containers so that on every container, it says please recycle.  Chair Wald stated there needs to be a sense of urgency to make the kind of partnerships work without a lawsuit or litigation which is frequently a good way to create a sense of urgency.  Mr. Donoho that is what the National Recycling Partnership is all about. EPA is given part of the grant for rebranding.  IBWA has been pushing for rebranding it and has finally gotten enough money to implement effective pilot projects.  

 

Mr. Donoho discussed a program in Philadelphia called the “RecycleBank” which incentivizes consumers to put recycled material in the recycle bin.  As a ratepayer, you pay 2 or 4 dollars a month, receive a debit card that you can spend at whatever organizations that have signed up for the program, and the City gets more throughput and reduced tipping fees.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Commission on the Environment is discussing the project in McCloud because it has an enormous impact on the state as it continues to make people think that bottled water is a good thing and makes it harder for the state and San Francisco to meet its waste diversion goals.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired as to the environmental advantage of single-serve water bottles especially for San Francisco when it has high quality water already.  Mr. Donoho stated that the advantage is that the containers are lighter than all the other beverage containers and questioned the presumption that if you get rid of the bottled water containers, that people won’t choose a different beverage in a plastic bottle.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that it important to implement any campaign with alternatives for people on the go, e.g. reusable steel containers or aluminum containers that are lightweight and can also carry water. Mr. Donoho stated that in order to measure if you are correct, you then have to figure out what happens with the other beverage categories and if you replace the water bottles, you should be able to show an increased consumption out of your public utility.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that San Francisco government offices now have bottle-less water dispensers that hook up to the Hetch Hetchy water system directly. Chair Wald stated that the San Francisco City government was spending and is now saving $500,000 a year on bottled water.   Commissioner Gravanis recommended that the dollars spent for marketing and recycling efforts on bottled water should be diverted to encourage and educate people as to the high quality of tap water, to bring their stainless steel container and fill it up at the drinking fountain, to bring their own shopping bag to the grocery store, and other similar efforts.  Chair Wald explained that the San Francisco campaign was to advise people of the high quality of water in San Francisco.  Mr. Donoho stated that an important message to send to the community is that San Francisco has high quality water and has not had to face the challenges that some other public water systems have faced.  

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Janice Sitton referenced an article by the American Recycler, “RecycleBank wins award” in the July 2007 edition.  It was stated that “RecycleBank” a rewards program in Philadelphia, has over 300 local and national rewards partners and part of the funding for the program comes from partners that receive those credits back.  Mr. Donoho stated that bins are retrofitted from small bins (18 gallon) to big bins (52-55 gallons) and when bins are picked up by recyclers once a week, they weigh the bin on the truck and an amount is credited to your account depending on how much is recycled.  It is rewarding people as the CRV rewards people to put the item into the recycled system.  Ms. Sitton also discussed her recycling volunteer efforts at the Alameda County Fair and the high volume of plastic water bottles captured by recycling efforts. It was stated that effective methods to change people’s behavior is to provide education to the consumer on the reuse of products.  Ms. Sitton indicated that it was mentioned that plastic bottles account for a third of one percent of the waste stream by weight, but by volume it would be a lot more.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that the waste stream is measured by weight, and the volume of the weight ratio to plastic is about 2 ½ to 3 times to 1.   

Ms. Sitton also discussed her unawareness as a new resident to San Francisco of the high quality of San Francisco tap water and the need to provide outreach and education to newcomers.

 

Mr. Stuart Moody, Green Sangha, spoke in support of San Francisco’s efforts to reduce bottled water consumption.  Mr. Moody discussed the origination and history of plastic and discussed the environmental and health hazards associated with the material.  Mr. Moody discussed the new recycling model of zero waste and how plastic water bottles do not fit into this model because of its adverse effects on the environment, covering topics of energy, pollution, and toxicity.

 

Ms. Vicky Lee, Sierra Club, stated that the Sierra Club commends the City for its recent policy to ban bottled water in government facilities.  Ms. Lee discussed the industry’s marketing of unnecessary products that are harmful to the public health and the environment and indicated that water should not be treated as a commodity.  Ms. Lee stated that although water bottles are recyclable, the rate that they are recycled varies from 10 to 25% and the vast majority end up in landfills and are down-cycled instead of recycled.  Ideas to consider for waste reduction:  (1) to examine the school district’s contracts for vending machines that contain bottled water in order to educate the next generation of consumers; (2) restore public water faucets; and (3) consider withholding permits for vendors and promoters of events (e.g. parades and festivals) that allow the sale of bottled water and require that they sell reusable water containers, making sure that tap water be easily available during public events. 

 

Ms. Diane Lowe, of McCloud, speaking for the citizens of McCloud who feel they have a need to take care of their resources and waste as is being done in San Francisco.  It was stated that San Francisco and other cities are becoming pioneers in addressing increasing problems of water mining, plastic bottling, and distribution of California’s spring water.  Ms. Lowe stated that recycling remains almost unavailable in McCloud and referenced a statement made in 2005 by the District Manager to the public that he felt that the plastics that went to the landfill were not a big problem because they do not weigh very much.  Ms. Lowe discussed the problems she sees with Nestle’s Draft EIR as it suggests that (1) only 50% of the demolition debris of the gutted wood buildings of the plant site at McCloud be recycled, but yet there is a recycled wood industry in the community; (2) accounts for diversion at the most at 50% of their production and non-production solid waste from landfills through recycling efforts; and (3) transporting the bottles north and south of Siskiyou County to distributors and purchasers was not accounted for correctly.   Concerns were also raised with the number of gallons of water that McCloud would be bottling per day.   Ms. Lowe requested that comprehensive and realistic data be provided for the McCloud Draft EIR.

 

Ms. Nancy Price, Alliance for Democracy stated that the organization is involved in a water campaign called “Defending Water for Life” and distributed material in support of choosing tap water over bottled water and other environmental issues surrounding plastics and its production.  Ms. Price indicated that the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom also has a “Say No to Bottled Water Campaign.” A discussion was held on methods to inform the public of the need for zero waste and addressed the contamination of the earth’s land, air, water, and our bodies caused by plastics production.  Ms. Price also discussed the Pennsylvania Chemical Trespass Ordinance and distributed the Public Trust Alliance’s response comments to the Nestle Draft EIR.

 

Ms. Nancy Wuerfel (1) inquired as to why NEPA was involved in the Nestle Draft EIR and (2) recommended that the water industry research putting water into aluminum cans and providing healthier alternatives to plastic. Mr. Palais stated that the project involves installing distinct pipelines from McCloud’s springs to the plant.  McCloud has easements and special use permits that crosses forest service property so the component of the pipeline replacement that crosses the forest service property brings NEPA into the project.  Mr. Donoho stated that bottled water is in aluminum at times depending on the brand, but speculated that (1) aluminum is heavier so it costs more to transport and (2) plastic bottled water is also one of the cheapest beverages, and aluminum is expensive.  Mr. Donoho suggested exploration of different container types and to try to remove as much of the plastic out of the bottle as possible as is currently being done.

 

Mr. Adam Scow stated he is working on the water campaign with Food/Water Watch and is interested in exploring the connection between the lack of funding for our tap water systems (where the EPA states every year they fall short by 22 billion dollars between what is needed and what is available to maintain the integrity of the water system) and bottled water undermining public support for funding. Mr. Scow stated that Food/Water Watch is involved in an effort to introduce and pass trust funds for wastewater and drinking water systems and asked to what extent the IBWA would be supportive of increased federal funding toward public drinking water systems.  Mr. Donoho stated that he is in support of an effort by the Congress Ways and Means Committee to lift the lid on private activity bonds that would provide the public utility access to capital for water infrastructure improvement.

 

Mr. Michael Davis, U.S. Pure Water/Water Store stated that he has been working for the past 22 years on helping to reduce the amount of bottled water that people would need to use.  It was stated that bottled water is something that is necessary for certain circumstances but primarily is marketing driven by organizations that are trying to sell their product, but may not be advantageous to users, such as in San Francisco where there are lots of areas where bottled water is being used but does not need to be.  Mr. Davis stated that they have worked with the Green Festival and other events in reducing the amount of bottled water that was used by providing a filtration system to fill up water on site and also in installing for the City bottle-less water systems as an alternative to the five-gallon bottled water delivery systems.  It was stated that there are many solutions to provide drinking water to people and to not have to rely on recycling.  Recycling is a great tool as part of the tool chest but first is to reduce, second to reuse, and third is to recycle and should be talked about in that context.  Mr. Davis indicated that it is not always advantageous to recycle; it is better to not use it in the first place.

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked that the Policy Committee as a new business item follow up on Ms. Lee’s suggestion of prohibiting needless selling of single-serve plastic water bottles as part of the permitting process for special events and making water available in jugs or influencing people to bring their own water containers.      

  

5.      Communicating Department Accomplishments to the Commission and Others.  The Policy Committee will discuss effective methods of communicating Department accomplishments. (Discussion).

SPONSOR:  Commissioner Johanna Wald

SPEAKER:  Mr. Mark Westlund, Public Outreach Program Manager

 

Chair Wald stated that the Commissioners do not always understand the Department activities nor can she be an effective spokesperson for the Department without a clear understanding.  Chair Wald indicated that she reads the Senior Staff meeting minutes, but does not understand the significance of any action.  Both Commissioners questioned if there are better ways for Commissioners and the general public to understand more about the great work that the Department is doing. 

 

Mr. Mark Westlund, Program Outreach Manager suggested a weekly or bi-weekly Commissioner briefing either live or in writing.  It was explained that the general public receives communication about Department activities mostly through the media and mailers.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that reports made in the Senior Staff Meeting Agenda and Minutes could be prioritized by level of importance and suggested a focus on one or two main topics that would include more detail.  Commissioner Gravanis recommended prioritizing, flagging or bolding the most important items. 

 

A discussion was held on what types of issues the Department should be endorsing and should be brought before the Commission to endorse.  Deputy Director Assmann and Mr. Westlund explained that the Department does not generally endorse issues, but may sponsor an event if they are involved in the recycling or waste management. Deputy Director Assmann suggested that each individual program area communicate and make updates on their priority projects on a weekly basis.  Mr. Westlund stated that updates could be given either live or on paper and that there could potentially be a website that can be logged onto for additional information/description of the project. 

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel spoke in support of creating a website of priority projects for the Commission and the general public.  Chair Wald suggested that the website contain current highlights and weekly updates on the particular project.  Mr. Westlund stated that the Department/Commission’s current website contains headlines for posting of new articles and a section called “Quick Links” for most topical items.  Chair Wald suggested spotlighting the project coordinator in order to have an opportunity to talk about that work in a larger context and in more depth.           

 

6.      Commission Policy Committee Meetings for August 13 and September 10.  Committee Members will discuss agenda items and confirm availability for meetings (Discussion and Possible Action).  Committee members recommended that August meeting remain on the 13th and the September meeting be rescheduled to a date on the third week of September. 

7.      New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).  (1) Commissioner Gravanis requested a discussion on prohibiting selling of single-serve plastic water bottles as part of the permitting process for special events; (2) Chair Wald requested a future agenda item checklist to schedule upcoming topics; (3) Civil Grand Jury Report on Climate Change –Department’s responses to the report for the August 13 meeting (responses due to the Civil Grand Jury by September 4); and (4) discussion on the possibility of holding Commission meetings on a monthly basis and eliminating Committee meetings .

 

8.      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.

 

9.      Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

 

Approved: August 13, 2007

 

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Committee’s website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/policy-committee as attachments to the meeting agenda or minutes, (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

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