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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More on Santa Monica Recycling

Earlier in the month I posted about a short Q&A from the Santa Monica DPW regarding their recycling program. Here is some follow-up information based on questions I asked not long after the original ones. Again, the responses are slightly edited for readability. (Note: the answer to how we pay for the luxury of dealing with commingled material is great.)

I recommend you read the first set of questions and answers. There's a little bit of context in this conversation that comes from that first one.

Sorry for the delay getting these out.

Recycling pickup isn't really free since we pay for it through our taxes. How much does our recycling program cost?

Just to clarify - recycling in the City of Santa Monica is not paid for through any taxes. The Solid Waste Management Division is in charge of refuse collection, as well as recycling, yard waste and food waste collections (and bulk item pick ups to remove mattresses and other miscellaneous items dumped in alleys). The Solid Waste Management Division is an "enterprise division" that is required to pay its own way. All services we provide are paid for by the actual users. In this way, recycling is "free" because the trucks are already out on the streets collecting everything else and we are trying to encourage folks to recycle through this adjusted fee schedule.

Even though we receive no taxpayer money, we are still required to have our fee schedule and expenditures approved by the City Council.

How much do we pay for the luxury of commingled material?

Our recyclables buyer allows us to submit our items in this way at no extra charge. We receive full price for the recyclables collected by the City trucks. I believe that they utilize Community Service workers to sort everything once it arrives at their facility. In this way, the facility does not pay the "volunteers" and the volunteers repay their debt to society.

Recycling programs across the country cannot pay for themselves. Santa Monica is no different. We encourage people to recycle, but there's a lot of misinformation spread around that is difficult to counteract. Wes Thompson is our Recycling Outreach coordinator and he tries to educate people regarding WHY it is a good thing to recycle.

Once recycling is regarded as something that's "natural" to do (rather than an inconvenience or something "other people do"), a larger recycling revenue stream is likely - due to the increase in the number of buyers available for the recycled items.

Where does recycling money come from?

I hope I explained that with the description of the fee schedule. However, if you mean "in general", then recycling money comes from the commodity buyers.

Regular folks can take their recyclables to the Buy Back Center at 2401 Delaware Avenue. I'm not sure what their rates are, as it is a private enterprise run by the Allen Company. Their phone number is 1-310-453-9677 if you would like to check on the current pricing structure.

Also, if you would like to have Wes Thompson come out to your office and discuss the City of Santa Monica Recycling program, please give him a call at 310-458-8546 and he will be more than happy to help.

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