Tehama County Landfill diverting waste
Mountains of garbage and a lot of diligent work have compacted into an alliance between businesses and recycling efforts.
The Tehama County Sanitary Landfill Agency has been combining grant funding, ingenuity and economic sensitivity to make waste management and recycling valuable and convenient for businesses.
One project has the Landfill Agency staff doing a one-month study, starting Feb. 15, to see how much expanded polystyrene, or plastic foam, is collected locally, said Kristina Miller, manager.
GreenFreak, LLC, a company based in Yuba City, has proposed creating a new manufacturing site in Tehama County to recycle used Styrofoam and other plastic foams into custom bobble-head cake toppers, skateboard decks, Hygenique baths and professional tool sets.
The study will determine whether there is enough plastic foam brought into the landfill, and other nearby landfills, to justify a potential loan through a CalRecycle Recycled Market Development Zone program, Miller said.
CalRecycle offers low-interest loans and other tools to give incentives to businesses that divert waste from landfills, according to the website, www.calrecycle.ca.gov.
Tehama County became one of the newest members of the Recycled Market Development Zone in October 2009, making it possible for local businesses to participate in the loan programs and other benefits.
"It's extremely exciting to bring business to Tehama County and reduce waste going into the waste stream," Miller said.
The company is applying for a $365,000 loan that would fund up to 75 percent of the project costs at a 4 percent interest rate over seven years.
Along those same lines, the agency is in the process of creating a Green Business Guild program to give local businesses incentives and awards for recycling and waste reduction.
Interim Recycling Coordinator Brin Greer is the muscle behind the program, which will offer free waste audits, free employee training and recycling containers and marketing for businesses that commit to the program.
A proposal is to be presented to the Joint Powers Association for approval in March.
The landfill itself is distinctly organized.
Gulls circle and squawk above one hill as trucks painted mostly dark green dart to and from the mound like bees to a hive. Driving closer to the top of the hill, to the open face of the landfill, plastic grocery bags that spin and jump in the wind like flies are confined by fencing to catch debris.
Downhill, in the Material Recovery Center, a large garage contains machines, conveyer belts and large bins that are used to sort and bale recyclables brought in from curbside bins throughout the county. Outside, areas are designated for particular types of waste, such as leaves and grasses or hazardous wastes.
"It's a very scientific construction project," Miller said.
Miller, who took the management role in 2008, has been implementing projects to make waste collection more effective.
"We try to keep all the programs convenient and free," Miller said.
The thought is that people will more willingly discard their waste in an environmentally-friendly way if it is affordable and easy to do, she said.
Some of the programs include the collections of old batteries, used motor oil and fluorescent lights.
Batteries are collected in orange bags, which are available free at nine locations in the county. Residents can put the bags inside their curbside recycling bins, Miller said.
The landfill collects about 18 containers of old batteries, at 55 gallons each, every six months, she said. Each drum weighs about 700 pounds. This is more than many urban areas collect because of the availability and convenience of the orange bags, Miller said.
For each kind of recyclable item, there is a place at the landfill it is collected and stored or taken to facilities to be recycled.
Mattresses are trucked off three trailers at a time by St. Vincent De Paul to be refurbished. Electronic items are baled and loaded on a tractor trailer in pallets to be hauled to a dismantling facility. Medical waste - needles, lancets and medical sharps - are collected separately as well to avoid injuring waste management employees on the job and to keep dirty needles out of the hands of illegal drug users.
Feb. 14 through Feb. 28, farmers and ranchers can get rid of up to six agricultural tires each during a collection event. Farmers and ranchers save up to $200 disposal fees on each tire, depending on the grade of tires, Miller said.
The Agricultural Tire Collection event is funded by a grant from CalRecycle, and participants must obtain a voucher from either the landfill office, Tehama County Farm Bureau, the Agriculture Commissioner's office, Bull & Gelding Sale office or Corning City Hall.
The event is one of a few tire collection events this year. Dumped tires are a blight to the community and harbor mosquitoes, Miller said.
Miller announced the event to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
It is more effective to give people the right choices to make than to force them to do these things, Miller said.