San Jose Becomes Save The Bay's First Partner for Ambitious "Cities Keep It Clean" Program

October 7, 2008

Save The Bay and the City of San Jose announced today that they are joining forces to significantly reduce pollution in San Francisco Bay – one of the greatest threats to the Bay’s health and the region’s quality of life. Marking a momentous collaboration between the oldest and largest membership organization working exclusively to protect and restore San Francisco Bay and the region’s most populous city, San Jose became the primary partner for Save The Bay’s ambitious new program, Cities Keep it Clean.

“Bay pollution is a leading threat to our Bay. And most of this pollution is not coming from business or industry; it is coming from all of us,” says Save The Bay Executive Director, David Lewis. “San Jose’s participation in this program demonstrates a strong commitment to improving the health of our Bay and our quality of life and economy.”

“Save The Bay’s Cities Keep it Clean meshes well with San Jose’s Green Vision, and we are looking forward to partnering to help protect the Bay,” says San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “I hope other Bay Area cities will join this effort. By working together regionally, we can reduce pollution in the Bay and creeks, protecting these beautiful natural resources.”

Cities Keep It Clean Showcases Best Practices for Preventing Pollution
Being “Bay-friendly” by responsibly disposing of toxic household items – such as batteries, CFL light bulbs, old cell phones and expired medicine – or avoiding items most likely to litter the Bay – such as plastic bags and Styrofoam – can be challenging to people because of the lack of convenient disposal centers and lack of alternatives. Therefore, Save The Bay developed Cities Keep It Clean as the region’s first formal plan for sharing innovative anti-pollution programs. This program provides all Bay Area cities with a roadmap to empower the region’s seven million residents to protect the Bay.

Save The Bay has identified several best practices to reduce major Bay pollutants. These methods prevent toxics from e-waste, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, mercury, plastic bags, Styrofoam and motor oil from entering the Bay. Save The Bay will assist cities who wish to adopt programs by sharing case studies, model ordinances, cost estimates and other helpful information.

Examples of Cities Keep It Clean best practices being pursued by the City of San Jose include the following:

  • San Jose City staff is developing a recommendation for an ordinance to reduce consumption of both paper and plastic single-use carry-out bags, to go to Council in December 2008.
  • In 2008, the City of San Jose helped to zero waste its five largest community events. Some of these events went from no recycling last year to 93 percent diversion in 2008 through recycling and composting and the use of compostable serviceware. In addition, the City has partnered with the Union School District, the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum and the San Jose Convention Center to establish food waste composting and make these zero waste facilities.
  • The City currently hosts thermometer exchange events on a regular basis, and the County offer exchange through the Household Hazardous Waste program.
  • In October, the City is hosting six safe medicine collection events. The first event, held in cooperation with Kaiser Permanente, netted a total of 525 pounds of unused or expired medications for safe disposal. Establishing permanent sites, most likely in partnership with pharmacies and/or hospitals, is part of the City’s Pollution Prevention Plan.
  • The San Jose City Council adopted a Green Fleet Policy in September 2007, and one of the City’s Green Vision goals is to “ensure that 100 percent of public fleet vehicles run on alternative fuels.”
  • The City has adopted an integrated pest management policy and is in its second year of using sheep, goats, bats and barn owls as a way to reduce pesticide use and prevent pollution of the local watershed.

Pollution from Residents: One of Biggest Threats to San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is under daily assault from pollution. In addition to the 58,000 gallons of bunker oil the Cosco Busan spilled last November and millions of gallons of sewage overflows this year, a toxic brew flows unfiltered into the Bay and ocean every day from our streets through storm drains and creeks.

This poisonous runoff includes plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, cigarette butts, cans, batteries and oil from leaky cars. This pollution kills wildlife, smothers wetlands and spoils water quality. Improper disposal of toxic chemicals like pharmaceuticals, mercury and e-waste also pollutes the Bay. A study found an average of three pieces of trash along every foot of streams that lead to the Bay. Alarmingly, each year, our cars leak more oil into the Bay than the Cosco Busan oil spill.

Bay trash adds to a global problem, flowing through the Golden Gate to join the Texas-sized “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” floating in the Pacific Ocean. With the Bay Area’s population expected to grow to 8.1 million by 2020, pollution will worsen unless we make changes in our polluting behaviors.

“We are confident that other Bay Area cities will follow San Jose’s great example and join Save The Bay’s Cities Keep It Clean program. By working together, we can protect our beautiful natural treasure for ourselves and future generations,” says Lewis.

About Save The Bay
Save The Bay is the oldest and largest organization working exclusively to protect, restore and celebrate San Francisco Bay. As the Bay’s leading champion since 1961, Save The Bay is committed to making the Bay cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife. Save The Bay wages and wins effective advocacy campaigns to increase public access to the Bay, establish 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands around the Bay, and protect the Bay from today’s greatest threats: pollution and urban sprawl. Save The Bay educates nearly 10,000 students and adults on the Bay each year and engages volunteers to improve vital wetland habitats.