Curbside recycling expansion gets the green light

Planning group proposal is approved by City Council committee

by Alice Martinez

he Natural Resources and Culture Committee of the San Diego City Council accepted the recommendations set forward by a City Manager-appointed committee last month to expand curbside recycling citywide over the next three years. The City's Environmental Services Department, which currently offers a pilot curbside recycling service to approximately one-third of the city's single family residences will come back to the full City Council early next year with a complete implementation time line and plan.

The City Manager's Committee on Curbside Recycling, appointed by former City Manager Jack McGrory to address the city's residential recycling program, recommended that recycling be offered citywide to all single-family residents. on a biweekly basis at no charge. The program would be paid for through the revenue generated from the sale of the recyclables, continuation of the pilot program funding, and City General Fund money saved through reduced trash collection (due to increased recycling). The proposed program would also replace the three, colored recycling bins currently used in favor of a single container automated system (similar to the city's automated trash collection) to improve cost efficiency and safety.

A number of interested citizens and business people attended the City Council meeting to express their support for the proposed expanded curbside recycling.

After the meeting, Tom Behr, Chair of the Curbside Recycling Committee, said, "We're extremely pleased. The Manager's Committee came up with reasonable recommendations that the City Council Committee could adopt in total. We're looking forward to the implementation."

Carolyn Chase, a member of the nine-person Committee, said, "I'm very excited that we're finally moving forward with this after so many years.'

According to Environmental Services Department Director Richard Hays, the proposed program, "signals a change in the way we are doing business." The automated recycling system, which utilizes a single container of mixed recyclables with a lid, "uses fewer trucks, is faster and more efficient, and reduces scavenging of recyclables. We will be calling on all residents to help make this program economically feasible by participating in recycling."

The Environmental Services Department will return to City Council for approval on specific plans to begin the expansion of curbside recycling in the fall of 1998, after new equipment and trucks are available. Expansion of curbside recycling is considered an important element to reach the State of California's mandate to reduce waste by 50 percent by the year 2000, or face fines of up to $10,000 per day.

 Alice Martinez, an assignment writer for SDET, is also a computer consultant and San Diego Earth Day volunteer.