Local company Waste Management is striving to meet the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery’s goal of diverting 75 percent of organic waste and recyclables from trash as the state overall is at 44 percent, according to a 2016 CalRecycle survey.
The goal is to divert recyclable items from going to the landfill. The state wants to divert it from landing in trash collections within the community.
“We ask for your help on getting where we need to be. It’s really important and we all want to make a difference in our environment,” said Ashley Cortes, commercial recycling manager for Waste Management. “I cannot emphasize enough to you how important it is that what you put in your recycling container, really does make a difference at your home and your business.”
Her comments came during the June 5 Greater Tehachapi Economic Council meeting.
“The state’s goal is 75 percent diversion by 2020, so that’s next year. CalRecycle recorded in 2016 we (California) were at 44 percent,” Cortes said.
Waste Management continues to work with the community to meet state laws in regard to recycling. It is working to share practical tips for businesses, multifamily dwellings and residential properties and informs them how contamination impacts good recycling techniques.
The Mandatory Organics Recycling program by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, also known as CalRecycle, required all cities to implement organic waste recycling.
The deadline to comply was Jan. 1 and the program requires businesses and multifamily dwellings that generate four cubic yards of waste per week to recycle. California laws AB 341 and AB 1826 mandate these changes.
The 64-gallon cart for organic materials that is provided to business owners and multifamily dwellings should have grass clippings, food waste without liquids, tea bags, meat, paper products and soil. Leave out all plastic food packaging, glass bottles, cans, metal foil, rope or twine, takeout containers and grease.
Residential properties were also provided extra containers for aluminum cans and plastic, with an organic recycling cart in discussion with the city, said Josh Mann, Waste Management public sector solutions manager.
“The concern of us is that the state is nowhere meeting its goal and it will require us as the hauler in the city to take on additional regulatory stats to further drive diversion,” said Mann.
There are still challenges, with paper and cardboard being put into the same recycling container.
“We have to keep it as clean as possible. You can imagine when we are mixing the trash with the recycling there is a good chance that good recycling is going to get contaminated,” Cortes said.
Community efforts to properly recycle can help others and the overall process.
Ali Vandereyk, residential recycling manager for Waste Management, said, “Our good efforts could be spoiled by putting the wrong things in the recycling. Everybody else who did the right thing and put their things in there no longer matter, because they are too contaminated.”
Big challenges occurring in recycling items are plastic bags being put in the recycling containers that should be recycled at grocery stores, any containers that have not been properly emptied of liquids and educating the community on what items are truly recyclable.
Vandereyk said, “Keep your food and liquids out of there, because one plastic bottle you forget to empty the water out ... once it gets crushed in all the other recyclables it gets all those paper products wet and they can no longer be recycled.”
Recycling containers that were once glass, are now a different type of material and pose a challenge.
“If we looked at recyclables 20 years ago, it was primarily paper and that has really changed and we have some huge increases in cardboard. ... We are also seeing how big the packaging has changed. Everybody remembers the peanut butter glass jar and it’s now an entirely plastic container,” said Mann.
Trash coming from residential, businesses and multifamily dwellings goes directly to the landfill.
The items in the recyclable carts go to the Azusa Material Recovery Facility, where contaminants are hand separated and then the recyclable material is sorted, said Mann.
He added, “It’s tougher for us, but we are keeping up with the material changes and that requires us to come out and educate you in the neighborhood.”