City curbs garbage output
4.5 pounds. That’s the approximate average weight of garbage each resident in Martinez sends to local landfills on a daily basis.
Since the goal set by the state is 6.1 pounds of waste per person per day, “we’re below the target rate,” said city staffer Mike Chandler.
In California, municipalities must divert 50 percent of its garbage away from landfills. This is due to a 1989 law entitled the California Integrated Waste Management Act and it set a solid waste diversion goal of fifty percent by 2000.
Because of this law, local jurisdiction, such as the City of Martinez, began encouraging residents to divide up the kitchen-sink bin into various recycling bins as far back as 15 years ago. Since then, the City has implemented 41 different programs to help meet this target.
Ironically, these days it’s not state law, but rather empty pockets that is resulting in a lot less garbage going to the dump.
The amount of garbage disposed into landfills lowers during economic recessions, since people are buying less consumer products.
In 2010, the City on a whole threw away 30,000 tons of garbage, contrasted with 45,000 tons in 2009 and 54,000 in 2008.
“A lot of [the lowered total] is the economy,” said Judith Silver, a staff member at Environmental Science Associates, the consultant contracted to assist with the City’s recycling and solid waste programs and climate action plan. “People are buying less and wasting less.”
The effort to reduce landfill totals is a driving force behind the new laws. Smaller landfills mean less greenhouse gases polluting the skies.
In mid-2012, said Silver, a new state law ordering mandatory commercial recycling will kick in.
The law mandates that the 150 to 175 businesses in town that produce more than four yards of garbage per week must institute and follow rigorous recycling programs. Multi-family residential complexes of five or more units will also have to comply with the new rules.
In April of 2009, the City’s residential and commercial garbage collector Allied Waste sent out a letter to downtown property owners and managers informing them of the location of a cardboard recycling bin – the 20-yard dumpster at 111 Taratino Drive, in the Martinez Yacht Club’s parking lot.
Next year, commercial enterprises will be compelled to bring their cardboard to the Waterfront for disposal.
As for residential disposal rates, so far the City is surpassing its target rate set by the state.
“The Martinez rate is almost two pounds less than what CalRecylce [stipulates], so we’re doing significantly better than other cities,” said Silver.
Chandler explained that in the past, there was a different calculation used to determine the amount of trash coming from a particular jurisdiction.
“SB 1016 changed the traditional [California Integrated Waste Management Act] reporting model by calculating public agencies’ waste diversion success based on a per capita disposal rate. Instead of looking at percentage of waste diverted (as through reuse and recycling), it established a “target” disposal number for each community based on 1) population and 2) actual waste quantities reported by disposal facilities,” explained Chandler in an email sent this week.
“For us, the target disposal number for 2010 was 6.1 lbs of waste/person/day. We came in at 4.5 lbs/person/day in our latest Annual Report. We also had to list various program-related things we’re doing as a City to improve overall waste diversion.”