Getting with the program

by Carolyn Chase


ayor Susan Golding and the City Council have voted unanimously to include expansion of curbside recycling in the City's next budget. Hallelujah! It's been a long time coming. This is welcome news for the thousands of San Diegans who have been perplexed for years as to why people only blocks away were receiving curbside recycling services while they waited.

The expansion funding is coming courtesy of the State of California and Assemblyman Howard Wayne's commitment to the expansion of the state's bottle bill, SB332. If passed into law, SB332 will provide $6.84 million for the next three years to the City to expand recycling programs. Most of the funds will go for the up-front capital equipment outlays necessary to expand services to an additional 190,000 homes.

While admitting that the expansion is currently dependent upon passage of SB322, the mayor declared, "I believe it will pass. Even if it does not pass, I'd still like to move ahead. It may be difficult, but not impossible." Citing the huge public and political costs of siting new landfills, Golding stated, "I would like to see recycling done everywhere. Businesses need to do it. We all need to recycle."

Planned to begin in January of 2000 and be completed by January 2004, households qualifying for the city services will receive three cans for their use: a blue can for mixed recyclables, a green can for garden waste, and a black can for trash. The trash pickups will remain weekly while the pickups for the recycling services will switch back and forth each week between green materials and other commodities (paper, metals, glass and some plastics). Services would be extended to all households currently receiving their weekly trash pickups for free from the City. There will be no additional fees to households for these services.

But couldn't the expansion go even faster? At the proposed rate it will still be five years before many residents would receive services. The City Council will hear an item on Tuesday regarding a new franchise agreement with Allied Waste. Any increased fees from trash being stashed in the city forever at Allied's landfill in Sycamore Canyon should rightly be applied toward accelerating the expansion of recycling programs. The faster we can increase recycling, the more useful materials are retrieved and regional landfill capacity extended.

While this program is for residences only at this time, there is also a new cost-free recycling opportunity for businesses throughout San Diego County. San Diego is now home of the Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative (RPPC).

The sole purpose of RPPC is to increase the use of recycled copy paper by making it price competitive with non-recycled or virgin fiber paper. In recent years, the higher cost of recycled copy paper has been the biggest hurdle for businesses and municipalities wanting to use recycled paper. But now, recycled paper doesn't have to cost more.

About 85% of the businesses and public agencies that contact the RPPC are able to get recycled paper at prices which meet or beat what they currently pay for virgin fiber paper. With this economic incentive, more buyers will be able to use recycled copy paper and be a part of the demand-economics helping to make recycled paper competitive.

Everyone uses paper. But nine times out of ten, this paper isn't made with recycled materials. In both the public and private sectors, price and performance have been limiting factors that hinder the use of recycled copy paper. In fact, recycled paper only represents 7 - 9 % of the printing and writing paper market. This means that new trees are continually being harvested to support our paper consumption habits.

It used to be that papers with high recycled content caused performance problems in copiers. Fortunately, many brands of today's recycled copy paper now perform just as well as virgin paper. The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the U.S. Government Printing Office just completed a study with Canon, Hewlett-Packard, and Lexmark. They concluded that the 30% postconsumer recycled multipurpose copy paper performs just as well as equivalent non-recycled papers.

This is one case where you don't have to be an environmental activist to do good. Just use your money wisely by joining the RPPC. Using recycled paper lessens the pressure put on natural resources and helps to keep functioning ecosystems intact. In addition, it supports recycling markets, bolsters the economy, creates jobs, and saves landfills.

Sea World, Union Bank of California, County of San Diego, Clackamas County, Southwestern College, Continental Maritime, Grice, Lund & Tarkington, and many others have all been able to purchase 30% postconsumer recycled paper through the RPPC for prices that beat what they were paying for virgin fiber paper.

There are no fees for being a member of the RPPC. Simply contact Tyson Miller with Solana Recyclers at (760) 436-7986 (email: to receive samples, talk about volume and pricing, and to receive a customer I.D. number which guarantees discount pricing for recycled paper. Currently, the Cooperative is open to interested parties in CA, UT, AZ, ID NV, OR, WA. The RPPC is planning on nationwide service in the first quarter of the year 2000.

What are you waiting for? It's the right thing to do. It saves resources. It saves money. Call now.