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Recycling efforts may be paying off

Darin Olde, Sierra Sun

A soon to-be-released recycling study indicates Truckee residents and businesses have done better than previously thought in meeting recycling goals.

Preliminary results indicate that half of the waste generated in Truckee is being recycled, said Dan Wilkins, the town engineer/public works director with the Town of Truckee.

A town-appointed committee working on reducing the waste stream commissioned a report from California Waste Associates about five months ago, Wilkins said. The report will look at the total trash tonnage that was deposited in landfills in 2000 and what was recycled.

“We’re looking at having the report in front of the council in late May or early June,” said Wilkins.

While the results are still unofficial, the study shows a drastic change from estimates compiled in the late 1990s by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, a state agency that tracks the amount of refuse being recycled rather than going to a landfill.

According to the board, Truckee diverted between 30 and 38 percent of its waste during the late 1990s and in 2000.

Wilkins feels the previous estimates were flawed because they did not incorporate satellite recycling efforts, nor did they include adequate representation of the town’s population boom.

The current report will eliminate much of the speculation and extrapolation that occurred before, he said.

“Through this diversion study we’re finding out there is more recycling going on,” said Jim Greco, the consultant with California Waste Associates who has been in charge of Truckee’s waste study.

Legwork by the Citizen’s Waste Management Advisory Committee to get a more accurate count of the number of recycling efforts going on was one way the California Waste Associates were able to incorporate a comprehensive view of community recycling efforts, said Beth Ingalls, chair for the Committee.

“Results from Teichert (a raw materials plant) put us over the top,” she added.

Inert recycling materials, products that don’t degrade over time, such as concrete, have been reused in construction projects, which Greco hopes will be incorporated into the diversion rate calculations.

But the study’s results are still unofficial.

“Right now we’re finalizing the study in draft form, and then we’ll meet with the state to make sure we are counting everything correctly,” said Greco.

The Waste Management Board reviewed the Diversion Study Guide on Tuesday, April 24. The guide, once approved, will determine what counts as diversion and what doesn’t.

If the town can show a 50 percent reduction in the total amount of waste that would have ended up in a landfill, it will avoid fines as high as $10,000 a day which could be imposed by the Waste Management Board.

The statewide diversion rate in 2000 is 42 percent, up five percent from last year, according to the Waste Management Board.

In 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported a national waste diversion rate of 28 percent.


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