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Prior to the Dialog held last August 2004 in San Francisco, I released a
series of papers that addressed what we call "Managing Discards in the New
Millennium." These papers were presented to stimulate the discussion at the dialog.
For the next nine weeks under the title Dialog Paper #, I will release each
document to the four lists (GAIA, ZWIA, CRRA and Greenyes). Each list is not
linked together, but I would request your response be to "all" or to the
author. The ultimate result of this discussion will be a rewritten and edited
version each document. All the papers can be downloaded from
PAPER 8 Implementing Zero Waste: Reuse and Recycling, California Style
William A. Worrell, integrated Waste Management Authority, San Luis Obispo
California communities are similar to many communities throughout the world.
People have numerous responsibilities, working, raising children, helping
elderly parents, etc. For many, there is a desire to do the “right” thing, there
just isn’t the time.
When developing reuse and recycling programs it is important to recognize
that the simpler and easier the program, the more it will be used. This applies
whether the programs apply reuse, recycling or recovery. To develop programs,
one must understand how the waste stream. This includes how materials are used
in society and how waste is generated.
Use of Materials
The following schematic diagram illustrates the use of materials in our
Figure 1: Flow of material through society
Source: Solid Waste Engineering, Aarne Vesilind, William Worrell and Debra
As shown in the above figure, we do not “consume” materials; we merely use
them and ultimately return them, often in an altered state, to the environment.
The production of useful goods for eventual use by those people called
"consumers" requires an input of materials. These materials can come from one of
three sources: raw materials, which are mined from the earth and used for the
manufacture of products; scrap materials produced in the manufacturing operation
and materials recovered after the product has been used.
The industrial operations are not totally efficient, producing some
byproducts, which are either disposed of or used as raw material in other processes.
The resulting processed goods are sold to the consumers. After the product is
used, there are three options: to reuse the material for the same or a different
purpose without remanufacture; to collect the material in sufficient
quantities to either use it for energy production or recycle it back into a
manufacturing process or to dispose of this material.
As shown on figure 1, this is a closed system, with only one input and one
output, emphasizing again the finite nature of our world. At steady state, the
raw materials introduced into the process must equal the materials disposed
back into the environment. By achieving the zero waste goal, no material is
disposed of, therefore no new raw material is needed.
The key to achieving the zero waste goal is to have the appropriate source
reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery programs. These programs must be
supported with the appropriate technology. In addition, the programs must be
accepted and used by the manufacturers and consumers.
Sources of Waste
The enclosed chart illustrates the various sources of waste for San Luis
Obispo . Depending on the community the various sizes of the 4 sectors, commercial
garbage, residential garbage, self haul and construction and demolition waste
will vary. However it is important the each community develop programs to
address each of these four sectors. At the same time the programs that are
developed should be simple and easy to use otherwise they will not be effective.
San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority
The San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) is a
regional agency which includes San Luis Obispo County , the cities of Arroyo
Grande, Atascadero , Grover Beach , Morro Bay , Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and
San Luis Obispo and 8 special districts.
Since 1995, the IWMA has been working with its members to develop a
comprehensive regional recycling program. The program that has been developed is
convenient, yet cost effective and addresses the three primary sources of waste
received at the landfills: Residential/Commercial waste, self hauled waste, and
RESIDENTIAL/COMMERCIAL WASTE: Because the IWMA has 16 member jurisdictions
and 5 hauling companies, the IWMA has worked to develop a standard
garbage/recycling program that is consistent throughout the region. This allows the IWMA to
advertise the program and prevents confusion as residents move between
jurisdictions. The standard program includes:
RESIDENTIAL GARBAGE SERVICE:
Variable can garbage rates based on 20, 32, 64 or 96 gallon waste wheelers
Weekly collection of commingled recyclables in 32, 64 or 96 gallon blue waste
Weekly collection of greenwaste in 32, 64 or 96 gallon green waste wheelers
Curbside collection of oil and oil filters in containers provided by the IWMA
COMMERCIAL GARBAGE SERVICE:
Commercial customers provided with 2 cubic yards of commingled recycling
and/or greenwaste as part of “garbage” service
Additional recycling or greenwaste collection offered at ¼ the cost of
IWMA offers assistance to commercial customers to establish
recycling/greenwaste service. The IWMA also provides free recycling containers for use in
SELF HAULED WASTE: About 10% of the residents in the County choose not to
have garbage service and still haul their own waste to the landfill. At the
largest landfill, Cold Canyon Landfill, the IWMA worked with the owner to develop a
resource recovery park. Self haulers are directed to an area where there are
stations to recycle: commingled recyclables, cardboard, tires, metals, wood,
greenwaste, concrete and asphalt. Any remaining material goes to the garbage
CONSTRUCTION/DEMOLITION WASTE: Three cities, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay and San
Luis Obispo , have adopted construction and demolition waste mandatory
recycling ordinances based on the model ordinance prepared by the IWMA. Other
communities are also considering adopting the model ordinance. Currently 3
construction and demolition sorting facilities are certified in the County as meeting
the diversion requirement in the ordinances. Other sorting facilities are being
PROGRAMS: In addition to addressing the three primary sources of waste, the
IWMA has also developed the following program:
School Education. The IWMA provides about 300 classroom presentations and 100
field trips each year. The field trips go to our education center and then to
the landfill, composting operation and recycling facility which are located
School Grant Program. For the last two years, the IWMA has provided grants to
schools of up to $4 per student to start or expand school recycling programs.
Twelve schools installed large worm beds and one school purchased an earth
Public Education. The IWMA publishes the annual recycling guide. This 48 page
guide provides information on a variety of topics. The IWMA website is
Model Office. Last year, CRRA recognized the IWMA for achieving a diversion
rate of over 95% in the IWMA office.
Household Hazardous Waste. The IWMA operates 6 permanent household hazardous
waste facilities. This innovative program was recognized by the North American
Hazardous Materials Management Association as the outstanding HHW program in
2000. These facilities also accept electronic waste.
Public Area Recycling. The IWMA has placed over 100 recycling containers in
What makes this program particularly outstanding or unique?
VISION AND LEADERSHIP: While others have wondered what to do and how to get
it done, the IWMA has developed and implemented outstanding programs. In 1998
the IWMA exceeded the 50% diversion goal and continues to exceed it.
Many of the programs described above are new and innovative. For example the
resource recovery park may be the first of its type in California . As another
example, clearly a regional collection program, which includes variable
garbage rates and weekly collection of commingled recyclables and greenwaste from
both residential and commercial customers, is the most effective option. By
working with our member jurisdictions and waste haulers, we have implemented this
The IWMA was also one of the first communities in California to adopt the
zero waste goal. As example of the IWMA’s commitment to zero waste, the IWMA
participated in zero waste workshops in England and Switzerland .
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