Bakersfield Recycling Update

Recycling is going to become a whole lot easier for Bakersfield residents! The City of Bakersfield Solid Waste staff has identified an opportunity to include curbside recycling to the city’s basic refuse service at no additional cost to residents.  The city’s financial conditions, a contract extension with local haulers, steady growth in participation in the voluntary curbside program and positive feedback from residents have come together to make residential curbside recycling economically and systematically viable for the community.  The City predicts that the addition of curbside recycling will be phased over three years, beginning in January 2013.   Collection days will be structured so that residents do not have three different collection days – trash, recycling and yard, but that recycling will most likely coincide with yard waste.  Blue cart collection will continue to be every other week.

The 9,000 residents who are currently subscribed to the City’s voluntary blue cart recycling program will save $48 per year, beginning July 1, 2012.  In conjunction with the voluntary Curbside Recycling Program, other programs, such as the Green Waste Facility, the School Food Waste Recycling Program, and some cardboard recycling efforts, have helped the City reach a 61% diversion rate from the Landfill.  With the addition of universal curbside recycling, the City estimates the recycling level will increase approximately 4%.  The new State goal is 75% by the year 2020 – a level the city of Bakersfield hopes it can reach as well.

The Solid Waste Department is excited to finally share this news with Bakersfield residents.  Sal Moretti, Superintendent of the City’s Solid Waste Department shared his enthusiasm for the new developments.  “This is really exciting for us!  Universal curbside recycling is something we have been wanting to do for quite a while now.  We are thrilled that we are now at a point economically to provide this service to all Bakersfield residents.”  Way to go Bakersfield Solid Waste!

In addition to providing universal curbside recycling to Bakersfield residents, the Solid Waste Department is also working to integrate a lunchtime composting program into city schools.  Actis Junior High School was one of the first schools in the Panama Buena Vista School District to implement the composting project – and is seeing tremendous results.  Head Custodian at Actis Junior High, Don Gutierrez, stated the school has been able to dramatically cut the amount of trash it sends to landfills each week because of the newly adopted composting program.  The program has also saved the school district hundreds of dollars in trash bills.

Last spring, the program was implemented in 20 schools, today the lunchtime composting program has expanded to 51 area elementary, middle and junior high schools.  So far, Sal Moretti states the program brings in over 15,000 pounds of food waste every weekday, keeping that same amount of food waste out of the landfill. The food waste collected is trucked from the schools to the city’s green waste facility where the food is then sent through a grinder.  It is mixed with woodchips then left to decompose for about twelve weeks.  The city then sells the compost to farms for soil.

The program developed out of schools’ desire to save money – the less schools contribute to the landfills, they smaller trash bills they are required to pay.  Actis Junior High Principal Patrick Spears estimates the school has cut its trash bill in half to about $200 per month since they began the program last spring.  The program is not only saving the schools money, but also teaching responsible habits to the students.  Students are not only being told to compost and recycle, but are learning why it is good for the environment.  So far, students have shown enthusiasm and excitement for the new program and it has been relatively easy to implement.  The city hopes to expand the program to all area schools.

The information from this article was obtained from the Bakersfield Solid Waste Department and the Bakersfield Californian.