Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Makes Strides toward Zero Waste
By Lookout Staff
October 23, 2013 -- Santa Monica’s Recycling Division took the gold and silver awards from the nation’s leading solid waste association this month, but it’s not wasting any time looking for ways to improve.
The City has launched an on-line survey that asks residents and businesses to help develop the Zero Waste Strategic Plan, which lays the groundwork to eliminate waste by 2030. If adopted by the City Council, the plan could lead to ordinances that would make it illegal to throw away recyclable items.
Among the survey questions are whether residents and businesses are satisfied with their building’s current recycling program, whether recycling collection containers should be placed in public places throughout the city and whether they would like to see a citywide yard sale.
Santa Monica is already considered a leader in eliminating solid waste. Last Monday, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) announced that the City’s Resource Recovery and Recycling Division (R3) was the winner of the SWANA Gold Excellence Award in Collections and the SWANA Silver Excellence Award in Marketing.
“The awards recognize outstanding solid waste programs and facilities that advance the practice of environmentally and economically sound solid waste management through commitment to utilizing creativity, effective technologies and processes in system design and operations,” City and SWANA officials said in a statement.
“Both awards exemplify a pledge to advance worker and community health and safety, and implementing successful public education and outreach programs,” they wrote.
The City’s R3 Division received the Gold Award for incorporating state-of-the-art technologies in its daily collection operations that have saved more than $1 million.
“While planning and implementing a customized routing optimization program, R3 developed several other programs that are ongoing and continue to demonstrate cost-saving measures,” officials said.
The Division also won a Silver Award for its “Party Truck Rental Program” that has become a highlight of the City’s annual Santa Monica Festival since its debut in 2009. The program gives children and adults the chance to operate the collection vehicle’s remote collection arm.
“This has become a huge draw with children lined up waiting for their turn,” officials said.
The Party Truck Program also led to the development of the Truckside Ad program, which offers businesses to chance to place ads on collection vehicles similar to those seen on local Big Blue Bus vehicles at competitive rates.
The City survey will gauge support for the Zero Waste Strategic Plan. Those who take the 10 to 15 minute survey could qualify for a free kitchen compost pail, a pressure washing service or a bulky item collection service depending on the extent of the participation.
Presented to the City Council in March, the draft Zero Waste plan could mandate recycling for households and commercial establishments in order to meet the ambitious goal of diverting 95 percent of Santa Monica's waste away from landfills over the next 17 years.
To achieve this, the City could look at drafting ordinances that would prohibit residents from throwing away recyclable items, such as plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, and could lead to bi-weekly trash pickup.
The Plan would also expand the City's recycling program and require residents' to recycle items like mattresses, carpet and textiles.
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