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S.D. Residents Using Recycling To Bolster Income

S.D. Residents Using Recycling To Bolster Income

GLORIA PENNER (Host): People are finding creative ways to earn a little cash during this recession and recycling cans and bottles is no exception. KPBS Reporter Sharon Heilbrunn brings us part two of her series on recycling in San Diego.

SHARON HEILBRUNN (KPBS Reporter): About twice a month, Lamarr Chapman brings a few bags full of cans and bottles to Allan Company, a recycling facility in San Diego. He gets a little money back in return.

LAMARR CHAPMAN (Recycler): Usually we get about $20 or $25 bucks, but sometimes about $40 or $45 bucks.


HEILBRUNN: Chapman doesn't use official recycling bins. He's got his own system.

CHAPMAN: We have a lot of parties, not a lot, but we've got a lot of friends, so ... usually we just get a couple of heavy duty trash bags, put 'em in there and save 'em up.

HEILBRUNN: The money is nice, but it's not just about the cash.

CHAPMAN: It helps with the earth. A lot of good things come from cans and aluminum. Building cars and stuff like that. Using this stuff over again really helps.

HEILBRUNN: That sentiment is what's helped the Miramar Landfill, too. The landfill's capacity was recently extended to 2019 because recycling rates have improved. In 2000, San Diego residents recycled about 48 percent of their waste, and now, they recycle about 64 percent. A few years ago, San Diegans were dumping about 1.5 million tons of waste into the landfill annually, and now the number is close to 900,000 tons. At Allan Company, about 250 tons of trash is recycled every day. That means pretty much everything you see here will be sorted, and recycled, by the end of one business day. It could be because of the recent ordinance that makes recycling mandatory for all residents and businesses in the City of San DIego. It could also be that residents are more educated about what IS RECYCLABLE. It's not just bottles and newspapers, it's computers, TV screens and cell phones, too.


STEPHEN GREALY (City of San Diego, Environmental Services): The way recycling rates are calculated, there was a recent change in the law just about two years ago, and the only thing they focus on is how much waste is being thrown away. So they look at that. No matter where it's disposed, which landfill that waste is counted against our recycling budget if you will. So by measuring the tonnages, as they go up and down, that's how we get our recycling rates.

HEILBRUNN: Everything counts that doesn't go into the landfill, whether it's junk mail, cardboard or organic material that can be used for composting. And of course, there's bottles and cans.

GREALY: Plastic bottles and jars. Ignore the number on the bottom, it's irrelevant. If it's a bottle or jar, it can be recycled in our program.

HEILBRUNN: It may soon be easier to find a recycling facility as well. Governor Arnold Schwarzanneger said he will repay $54.8 million in loans to California's recycling fund, which has been struggling since 2002. This money will fund recycling kiosks, which make it convenient for the average person to recycle their cans and bottles and make a little money back in return.

HEILBRUNN: For a list of recycling centers in San Diego County, visit We want to know if you have recycling tips or advice. Share them with us on our website, at For KPBS, I'm sharon heilbrunn.