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Step One Continued – Successful Waste Diversion Requires Mandates

by Alan Housley / VP Marketing, LoadMan Scales.

To further drive down the amount of waste carried to the landfill, residents and businesses are receiving smaller and smaller waste cans.  And some communities have mandated bi-weekly pickup.  These container and pick-up tactics are forcing customers to rethink their own home and business waste habits.  And if a customer still demands greater solid waste capacity by ordering larger bins, then they are charged a premium service rate/fee.

The ban on commingling waste is fairly new.  If a recyclable or compostable item is found in the solid waste container, then some cities will refuse pickup or even fine the customer.  This new ordinance has recently made headlines in Seattle, where zero waste is a committed goal.

iStock_000006840026SmallThe Seattle city council has voted to impose fees for not composting. Homeowners found with food scraps in their trash container will be fined $1 for each violation. The fine is up to $50 for a business or apartment complex.  

Under the new rules, collectors will take a look when they dump trash into a garbage truck. If they see more than 10 percent of the trash that should be composted, they’ll enter the violation into a computer and leave a ticket on the bin that says expect a $1 fine on the next garbage bill. Or they may even skip future services to a repeat offender.

San Francisco Recycling Mandates

private-san-francisco-city-tour-in-san-francisco-164077In 1989 California approved the California Integrated Waste Management Act, which has been the template for state mandates across the United States.  This action requires cities and counties to:

“reduce, reuse and recycle (including composting) solid waste generated in the state to the maximum extent feasible before incineration or landfill disposal of waste to conserve water, energy and other natural resources, and to protect the environment.  AND, the plan calls for a goal of “zero waste.”

From this state mandate, San Francisco has fully embraced zero waste by setting the goal to:

“send nothing to landfill or incineration.  We create policies that reduce waste, and increases access to recycling and composting.  San Francisco is doing everything we can to make it happen.” 

The Results? In 2013 San Francisco exceeded its goal to divert 80% of materials away from landfills.  They are now well on their way to 100% landfill waste reduction by 2020.

Other City’s Diversion Benefits

In addition to diverting waste and converting a portion of the waste stream into renewable energy, other benefits are realized:

– Drastic reduction in truck and rail transportation and their associated air quality, traffic congestion and road/highway wear & tear.
– Conservation of limited, virgin resources
– Creation of construction jobs and permanent operational “green collar” jobs at Municipal Recycling Facilities.

Anyone who is responsible for sustainability programs in their institution, municipality, business, university or military base should benefit from these postings to further their knowledge of sustainability best practices; especially for waste materials and their effects on environmental sustainability.