In 1989, California’s State Legislature passed the California Integrated Waste Management Act. This initiative mandated that, by 1995, 25 percent of the state’s annual waste should be recycled. By the year 2000, 50 percent of waste should have been diverted from landfills. But of the 100,000 tons of garbage annually contributed to Yuba-Sutter’s landfill, only 30 percent is currently recycled.
This October, in an effort to meet the state’s mandates, Yuba Sutter Disposal, Inc, part of Nor Cal Waste Systems began the Curbside Recycling Program for its 30,000 residential customers. According to YSD, Inc., recyclable products are paper, glass, cans, aerosol cans, egg cartons, milk cartons, bags and plastics, all of which go into the same blue canister, picked up by a truck and separated at the facility. Garbage goes into the gray cart and yard waste into the green cart. Simple enough in the driveway, but inside the home, the “Garbage Can” has a new identity: the “Waste Community.”
In the average Yuba-Sutter resident’s kitchen sits a canister for all recyclable products, a bag for plastic bags, bags for paper and newspapers, a bucket of compost and a little can for what is now considered true trash. To make this separating system work, residents must change their lifestyles and put a little effort into the cause. The website www.YSDI.com answers questions and concerns about how the program works.
Many local citizens are taking advantage of this new program as a way to make a little cash. YSD, Inc. does not hold a monopoly on Yuba-Sutter’s recycling goldmine. Instead of being hauled off in trucks, recyclable products can be taken to a collection center, so the profit goes directly back into residents’ wallets.
There are many collection facilities in the Yuba-Sutter area: Recycle America, 360 Bridge Street, Yuba City; Pioneer Recycling Center, 4833 Olivehurst Ave., Olivehurst; Yuba City Scrap and Steel, 1721 Colusa Hwy, Yuba City; Yuba-Sutter Disposal Recycling Buyback Center, 3001 North Levee Road, Marysville; and Recycling Industries, 389 Wilbur Avenue, Yuba City.
Noon on a Monday morning, Recycling Industries was a bustle of activity. “We handle about one customer every six minutes,” said Doug Ransom, who started recycling in 1975, driving a truck to collect materials from Chico to Sacramento. Recycling Industries found its current home in 1987. Since then, they have made a huge business of buying cardboard, glass, plastic, newspapers and magazines, which are packed into bales and shipped off to mills where the real process takes place. Six weeks later, materials are processed and “new” products are back on store shelves. “We’ve got to stop throwing it away,” said Ransom. He recalls the Forties, when Americans turned tin cans into planes. “We stopped recycling after the war. England didn’t. Now we’re catching up.”