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Day: July 20, 2010

Compost pickup now set to start Aug. 2

Surprise!

The city’s two sanitation haulers are starting a food waste composting program a month earlier than expected.

Representatives from Valley Recycling and Loren’s Sanitation announced Tuesday the program would start August 2.

If you already have garbage service through either company that includes yard debris pickup, you won’t notice much of a change. The Keizer City Council voted for bi-weekly pickup, which maintains the current schedule already set by the haulers and doesn’t include a rate increase.

“We were ready to roll as soon as we had a permitted facility,” said John Sullivan, general manager of Loren’s Sanitation. “… I hope people kind of catch on to it and take advantage of it because it is a good thing.”

“It doesn’t affect anyone’s rate and the facility is already permitted to take the materials, so there doesn’t seem much point to hold off until September at this point,” said Greg Dittman, operations manager at Valley Recycling.

Both are happy about diverting more waste from garbage taken to the county’s Waste to Energy plant.

Those of us that have experimented with it already at our homes are finding it’s actually quite a bit of material by the time you include the napkins, pizza boxes and stuff like that,” Dittman said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Sullivan still has small compost bins available to customers at Loren Sanitation’s Chemawa Road N. office.

Compostable items like bread, coffee filters and grounds, dairy products, egg shells, produce, meats, pizza boxes and seafood shells could be disposed of in the green yard debris can, instead of in the trash. Plastic bags, animal waste, foil, grease, metals and personal hygiene products would continue to go in the garbage.

Protesters target chain drug store

At right, Braeda Libby of Keizer has a word with a protester in front of Walgreens Tuesday. KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox

A protest banner held outside Walgreens this week is part of a national campaign decrying the company’s building practices.

Starting Monday, there were several people holding up a large “Shame on Walgreens” banner along River Road at the chain’s Keizer location.

Eric Franklin, communications director of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, said the company fails to use contractors that pay “area standard” wages, provide healthcare for employees and families and doesn’t give retirement benefits.

“On a nationwide basis, they utilize contractors from outside the area who bring in their own workforce, who pay substantially less than what carpenters in the area should make, who do not pay health benefits, no retirement,” he said. “These are all things the carpenters union has tried to establish in over 100 years of existence.”

Those holding the banner wouldn’t comment to a reporter, but handed out flyers criticizing Walgreens for its building practices along with criticism for previous lawsuit settlements in issues of race discrimination, “deceptive marketing” and prescription medicine.

Franklin said the people holding the banner were union members.

In an e-mailed statement, Walgreens stated “when bids are competitive, we favor union labor.

“We require that all developers and contractors who build or remodel Walgreens stores offer their employees health insurance benefits and a living wage. We also encourage union contractors to submit bids and a great number of our construction jobs are performed with union labor,” stated Robert Elfinger, a media relations specialist for Walgreens.

“Their public relations people have said that they have a great, responsible bidder policy,” Franklin said. “And they do. They just don’t always use it. It’s used, I think, when it suits them, and when they feel no one is looking they’ll use contractors who don’t go by area standards.”

He didn’t comment specifically on the other issues listed on the flyers, but suggested if a company “is problematic in one area they may be problematic in a number of others.”

Keizer is certainly not the first city to see these protests. Franklin said there have been protests in all 50 states.

“We are out there fighting for middle-class jobs and middle-class wages to support a middle class that spends its money, invests in its local community and is part of that local community,” Franklin said.