By Judith Anderson
Recently, I overheard a resident active in the community declare that barely 2% of containers thrown in our residential trash bins were actually recycled.
Because recycling, reusing and repurposing (the triple Rs) is a personal choice I made years ago, especially concerning the endless supply of consumer plastic, I was alarmed, and wondered if that statement was true.
Reaching a spokesperson in the sustainability department, through a personal phone call to CR&R, our region’s environmental waste services contractor, I learned the following fact:
“Up to 91% of the recyclable containers and packaging” tossed in those recycling carts are recycled if, and only if, they are clean.
So how much discarded plastic will, indeed, be recycled?
The final statement made was that he wished residential customers would be more diligent in discarding “uncontaminated” plastic.
Senate Bill 1383 requires Californian waste management services to conduct random audits within cities to enforce compliance within state mandates on a path toward reducing methane emissions.
In a CR&R newsletter, an explanation regarding trained auditors conducting random searches in curbside trash bins will be seen, perhaps on your street. These audits will be used to assess the effectiveness of recycling programs.
City residents will be receiving public educational information over the next few months that will provide more details about SB 1383 and our own increasing recycling responsibility.
There are a growing number of consumer goods using alternative packing materials such as sustainable paper products, organic waste composition, completely repurposed fibers and dissolvable or repurposed fabric.
Nevertheless, plastic containers continue to be the most pervasive packaging material. As gasoline-fueled vehicles are gradually being phased out, the petrochemical-derivative industry is producing and marketing more plastics to American consumers to keep their profit margin large.
Our personal and municipal habits of convenience have already resulted in the pollution of waterways in small communities afar. We have wreaked havoc on the other side of our Earth on poorer island nations, where our mixed-use plastics arrive as a final destination of no-longer saleable petrochemical derivatives.
Our conscientious actions will lead toward achieving a cleaner environment for generations to come.Judith Anderson has lived in San Juan Capistrano for 33 years, is a photographer, an architectural assistant and tour guide for the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society and the Friends of the Library of San Juan Capistrano. She has been a member of the Citizens’ Climate Education and Lobby of South Orange County for five years.