Danville Express

Perspective - September 21, 2007

What's new with waste

Ten years ago, the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District opened its Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility in Martinez to make sure such waste was recycled, reused or disposed of safely. We mention it now because today culminates National Pollution Prevention Week, Sept. 17-21.

The facility provides a safe place for residents and small businesses to dispose of leftover paint, pesticides, motor oil and batteries - stuff that would harm the environment if it was just dumped down the drain or thrown in the garbage to go to a landfill.

The first year, the facility collected 745,000 pounds of materials; last year it was up to 1.8 million pounds so obviously it's catching on. Danville has done its share - the 10-year total collected was 16.2 million pounds and Danville's contribution was 1.3 million pounds. Michael Scahill of the Sanitary District noted that 13.2 percent of Danville's population has been to the facility, and he estimated the participation rate of residents in Alamo, which is tracked with other unincorporated areas, to be as high as 10 percent.

At the other end of the waste spectrum is that which can be put back into the soil. Last year's pilot food scraps program, tried in Danville from March through October, raised a lot of complaints as the hot 2006 summer was not conducive to keeping food scraps around. But a survey sent out afterward received 2,000 responses and a large majority was happy with the program, said Bart Carr, program manager with the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority. About 400 households asked for more information on recycling and backyard composting.

After hearing about the Danville pilot program, Lamorinda requested the food scraps program without a test, said Carr, and it has been implemented there. It will still come to Danville and Alamo, but now the I-680 corridor must wait until a new compost site is completed in Alameda County in a year or two. Then residents will be able to put food scraps, including pizza boxes and other food-contaminated paper, into their green waste bins.

Pollution Prevention Week became a national event in 1995. But guess where it started, three years earlier? In California.

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