We wrote yesterday about the financial dilemma that Berkeley’s success with recycling is creating. More recycling by Berkeley residents combined with a decrease in construction projects (and their associated waste), have led to a $4 million budget shortfall. Not good.
The Chronicle article leaves out one of the major problems facing the curbside recycling program. The scavenging of recyclables before the Ecology Center trucks arrive significantly reduce revenues. This is a problem not just in Berkeley but also in other cities.
We usually put our recycling out at the curb at about 7:45 am. I know that when I leave the house at about 8:30 am, ALL the cans and bottles with a CRV value will be gone. I can tell when the price of steel scrap is up because empty tins will also have disappeared. On occasion even our bundled newspapers will have disappeared long before the Ecology Center trucks arrive. They end up picking up only the mixed paper scrap and some recyclable plastic bottles without a CRV value.
I have thought for a long time that our recycling program needs to be rethought. Since no cities I know of have effectively stopped recycling poachers through legal enforcement, may be we should redesign our program assuming that scavengers will get the high value items and reduce the frequency of pick ups for the lower value items like mixed paper and plastic.
Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...
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