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City Report Says San Diego Residents Need To Recycle More

Evening Edition

Aired 4/30/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Ken Prue, Recycling Program Manager, San Diego Environmental Services

Andrea Altmann, Recycling Specialist, San Diego Environmental Services

Pauline Martinson, Executive Director, I Love A Clean San Diego


San Diego residents are not recycling enough of their refuse, according to a report released Tuesday by the city's Environmental Services Department.

The report said the city's overall recycling rate — the amount of yard waste, plastic, bottles and newspaper that's separated from other trash — was 68 percent between Jan. 1 and March 15.

The portion collected from the green and blue curbside bins in residential areas, however, was just 24 percent, the department reported. Residents put 17 percent of their waste in the blue recycling can and 7 percent into the green vegetation container.

The department compared the overall weight of refuse collected to the weight of materials collected in recycling bins.

"When you take commercial, business and construction debris figures out of the disposal equation, we end up with low numbers in our residential communities,'' said Ken Prue, the city's recycling chief. "This shows that we clearly need a better recycling effort by our residents.''

The top neighborhoods for recycling included a Point Loma section known as the wooded area, where 45.3 percent of garbage was recycled; Sunset Cliffs, where 45 percent was recycled; and La Playa, near the Navy submarine base, where the rate was 41.4 percent, according to Andrea Altman, a recycling specialist with the city.

She said areas with the lowest recycling rates were the Midway District, a 1.5 percent rate; the Tijuana River Valley, with 4.8 percent rate; and Logan Heights, with 5.1 percent rate.

Midway and Logan Heights are among San Diego neighborhoods without curbside green waste pickup.

The Environmental Services Department said it is planning to increase outreach to residential curbside collection customers. The city needs to meet a state-mandated 75 percent overall recycling rate by 2020.

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Avatar for user 'tiffanybrenner'

tiffanybrenner | April 23, 2014 at 3:40 p.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

If the city wants the numbers up, why do I only have recycling pick up every other week. I could easily have enough recycling for a weekly pick up. I make much more recycling "trash" than black bin trash. Is this an issue with my HOA or the city?

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Avatar for user 'baywood'

baywood | April 23, 2014 at 5:52 p.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

We have blue and green bin pick up every other week in my neighborhood of Carmel Valley. We need the service switched - we have an overflowing blue bin and often skip a week of the black bin - and we're just two ppl. Maybe ppl are putting recyclable material in the black bin just to avoid a pile up.

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Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | April 30, 2014 at 11:56 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

Well, I hope someone is taking into account the considerable about of recyclables removed from the blue bins by people who regularly raid them. No matter what I would put in the blue bin, I have no control over the people who are living off their contents. Frankly, I've given up on City recycling...I called Waste Management and asked if I could just take my own recycling down and they said that would be fine. I really don't understand the thinking with conservation management in the City. If someone has been conserving water for years, they get dinged for not doing more whereas someone who just started conserving this year will get praised to the hilt because it is easier to cut back if you've never conserved then if you have been cutting back for a long time; they apparently take no consideration out of how much recycling is removed from the bins before they are picked up; and I can't recycle into a green bin because I'm not in a privileged zip code that allows a green bin (no, setting up a compost pile in my yard is not a good solution for me). Don't any of the decision makers live in the real world? Outreach does me no good. The main problem is not with my effort.

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