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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Santa Cruz County to require recycling

by Karin Grobe

Santa Cruz County has adopted a far-reaching ordinance requiring residents and businesses to recycle. The ordinance will have an impact on people who haven't been willing to recycle under the current voluntary program.

Patrick Mathews, Santa Cruz County Recycling/Solid Waste Division Manager, is hopeful that the diversion rate, which was 55% in 2003, will increase to 70% as the ordinance takes effect and new diversion programs are put in place. "The carrot we've been offering is the option of taking advantage of recycling opportunities to reduce waste hauling bills and help conserve resources," he said. "Most residents and businesses have opted for the carrot, but now we need the stick-in the form of this ordinance-to get those who are not currently recycling on board." The greatest impact is expected from construction/demolition and business recycling, where as much as 50% of the materials currently landfilled could be recycled.

The ordinance mandates recycling of 22 materials. Most are currently accepted in Waste Management's curbside program, including paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic containers, batteries, aseptic packaging, milk and juice cartons, yard and wood waste and small scrap metal. Other items are accepted at the Buena Vista Landfill and the Ben Lomond Transfer Station-mattresses, gypsum board, concrete, asphalt, tile, porcelain and appliances.

An educational outreach program began July 1. Starting January 2006 notice tags will be placed on garbage containers with appreciable amounts of recyclable materials. The prohibitions will go into effect January 2007, when haulers will refuse collection if recyclables are mixed with refuse. Gate staff at the two County disposal facilities will turn back self-haul loads that include recyclables. Haulers are prohibited from collecting recyclables mixed with waste and containers for recycling must be provided along with containers for refuse.

Avid recyclers are enthusiastic about the ordinance, which they hope will force their neighbors and businesses to start recycling, thus saving space in the county landfill. Although there was little opposition to the ordinance, Mathews says haulers have grumbled, unhappy with their role as middlemen who will need to provide recycling containers and be involved at some level with enforcement.

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