We want to hear your ideas… Practical or way out there, you may have something we can use or build from…

Here are a few of my ideas to get this “What Next” discussion rolling. Though they do not directly help with landfill repair or closure, these suggestions could greatly reduce system costs and free up money for planning.

1) Apply our existing landfill material bans to to our trash carts and out-haul vehicles.

2) Implement mandatory recycling 5 years early!

Our County Integrated Waste Management Plan, www.recyclenow.org/CoIWMP, bans numerous materials from being disposed in our landfill– yard waste, some recyclables and toxic materials, and has mandatory recycling planned for 2015.  Let’s use these initiatives to increase recycling – now!

We need not be alone in this. Other cities have mandatory recycling requirements in place and state law (AB 32) may soon require all businesses to recycle. And this month the City of San Francisco is implemented their mandatory ordinance: http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/interests.html?ssi=3&ti=&ii=236.

I am not suggesting fines or other punitive measures – just a loud message. Neither is SF initially, but I believe the ordinance does carry consequences – especially for apartment buildings owners not allowing residents to participate.

(There are also fun ways to bring consciousness to this without negativity. More on that later.)

3) Recycle Better – At Home, Work, School And Play!

If everyone recycled more and better we could greatly reduce the costly out-haul to landfills in other counties.

A) The California Integrated Waste Management Board lists Sonoma County as diverting 64% : www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Profiles/County/CoProfile2.asp?COID=49

B) Our 2007 Sonoma County Waste Characterization Study, Page 10: www.recyclenow.org/ SonomaCountyWasteCharacterizationStudy2007.pdf, reports that 70% of what was still being discarded is:

Compostable (32%)
Divertible (25.4%) or
Potentially Divertible (12.3%).

C) Sooooo…. 70% of the remaining 36% (100% – 64% = 36%) suggests that if 57% can be reused, composted or recycled (as presented in the list above) and 12.3% may potentially be repurposed then only 30% must go to a landfill. . (Yes, I am assuming we can figure out a way to handle that 12.3 % of possibility.)

Perhaps this will help. When we apply these percents to 100 tons of discards, more then half, 57.4 tons, are compostable or recyclable, 12.3 tons are possibly divertible, and the remaining 30 must go to landfill. Thirty tons going to an out of county landfill is much better then the original 100 tons being buried elsewhere.  We save on per ton tipping fees, fuel and climate impacts!

D) A diversion rate of 64% plus 25% or 70% of 36% equals = 89%. This suggests that 90% diversion is within our reach, zero waste is a possibility and the long haul impacts and other issues could be looked at differently.

E) What does 64% diversion really mean? Either about two thirds of us, 64%, are all diverting and recycling very well and 36% are not recycling at all.  Or, more than 64% are recycling but not well. Studies around the county suggests both measures are true. Some people don’t want to take the time to separate any of these goods, and othersmay recycle but neglect to segregate in every room, at work or on the street.

So, please reduce, reuse and recycle better – at home, work, school and play! If you don’t have a system in place call your service provider or visit www.recyclenow.org for contact info.