San Clemente's mayor is lauding residents and business for recycling nearly three-quarters of their trash.
Thanks in part to a few new programs, the city has achieved a 71 percent recycling rate—a substantial number in a city of nearly 70,000 residents that swells with tourists every year.
City officials credit not only individuals and families for the results, but also new efforts to recycle construction, toxic, electronic and yard waste, as well as a composting program.
A coalition of seven cities throughout south Orange County received a $400,000 grant for such programs from the Prima Deshecha Landfill. The grant comes from extra money the landfill is collecting as a result of raising fees from $27 to $57 per ton. The idea is to reduce shipments to the landfill, City Environmental Services Coordinator Danna McIntosh said.
She said, however, the composting program may not be as environmentally efficient as one would think.
San Clemente's trash hauler, CR&R, is handling the pilot composting program, which has enlisted five restaurants around town to compost food waste. They started out as , The Melting Pot, Gordon James, and Adele's. , and Gordon James went out of business, so those two have been replaced by and the, McIntosh said.
The trash contractor burns through a lot of diesel hauling the food waste to the processing center in Indio, and there seems to be little political will or cash for a composting facility in Orange County, McIntosh said.
She said the city is in the midst of a carbon footprint study to determine if it's worth sending the compost waste to Indio. McIntosh commended the haulers for measuring every pound of trash and ounce of fuel to provide data for the study.
The grant money for the pilot program probably will last through the end of the year, McIntosh said.
Still, a 71-percent recycling rate is something to be proud of, she said.
“To think just seven years ago we experienced a 27-percent diversion rate," said in a news release. "Since implementing new programs from green waste recycling and multi-family recycling to construction recycling and a free door-to-door hazardous waste program, as well as the pilot food waste program and community clean-ups, we reached this impressive milestone."
As a result of Assembly Bill 939 signed into law in 1989, cities have been required to meet diversion goals of 50 percent because of the increase in waste and the decrease in landfill capacity, the release stated.