The San Lorenzo Valley Redemption and Recycling Centers announced that it recycled more than 4.5 million pounds of aluminum, glass, plastic, metals and paper in 2012.
To make up for the lack of curbside pickup in many San Lorenzo Valley neighborhoods, the recycling center has drop-off facilities in Felton, Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek.
They offer residents a way to redeem cash for recyclables or simply unload recyclable materials, according to David Wright, director of the center.
“Our experience is that people understand that recycling is an important activity for the environment,” Wright said, “and we think that in the San Lorenzo Valley that people have a good awareness of it and really appreciate the importance of conserving materials and recycling.”
Nancy Macy, the retired director of the center, agreed.
“This is an enormous community service, but it would not work without the support of the people who recycle,” Macy said.
The state began paying residents for turning in recycled beverage containers through a program called California Redemption Value in the early 1990s.
Today, redemption is about one-third of the recycling center’s total volume, Wright said, and statistically, he said, more than 90 percent of beverage containers in the California get recycled.
Aside from returning cash to consumers’ pockets, recycling reduces the load on landfills.
“Other things that are not CRV — things like paper, cardboard, scrap metal and high grade metals — we take those things because there are high volumes of them,” Wright said. “We feel that it’s important to divert them from the waste stream and reduce the total volume of material that is going to our landfills.”
Recycling in the valley is also important, Wright said, because the local watershed has a significant population that depends on both the natural beauty and the rivers and roads being clean.
Reducing the amount of waste in the valley helps the Pacific Ocean stay clean, too, as local waterways flow to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Santa Cruz County has also taken steps that could reduce the transport of trash, which Wright said is kinder on the environment.
In October, Santa Cruz County passed an ordinance that requires county recycling facilities to use e-steward approved recyclers, a change Wright said should benefit the county by reducing the amount of recyclable material that is shipped overseas for less expensive processing.
“You want to reduce the amount of your carbon footprint,” Wright said, “and the more you haul stuff around the less green things become.”
Increase in waste
According to Wright, recycling now is especially important because the amount of waste produced by each person in the United States has increased in the past 20 years.
Wright said that in 1990, each person in the United States generated about 9.4 pounds of waste, but by 2010 it had jumped to 12.8 pounds.
Today, Wright said, the number is 10.7 pounds per person, which equates to just less than two tons of garbage per person each year.
In addition, 51 percent of garbage statewide still goes to landfills. However, Wright said, most of this garbage originates in cities.
“It’s a double win when we can reduce garbage and recycle as many things as we can by diverting them from the waste stream,” Wright said.
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