By Linda Simonds
Curbside recycling has suddenly boomed big-time in Ramona, thanks to those very large, very bright blue, wheeled carts that Ramona Disposal Service (RDS) recently distributed for free to all its residential customers.
The 65-gallon capacity carts allow residents to place all household recyclables together in one easy-to-move container. The new carts are designed to be lifted by an automated arm that deposits the materials in RDS’ recycling trucks.
This new system has been an instant hit with RDS customers. According to John Snyder, Ramona Disposal’s general manager, participation in the company’s recycling program has increased by at least 30 percent since the new carts were distributed about a month ago. Growing public awareness of the benefits of recycling, as well as the convenience of having one large container for paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, aluminum and tin recyclables have contributed to the new program’s popularity, said Snyder.
Some customers have become so enthusiastic about recycling that they are requesting an additional blue cart.
Patrick Osio, RDS’ market developer, said additional carts will be provided free of charge upon request.
Along with the new containers, Ramona Disposal has distributed guidelines for recycling. Newspapers can now be recycled without removing “slicks,” those shiny inserts or ads. Staples do not need to be removed from any paper products, including magazines, catalogs, or junk mail. Even envelopes with see-through windows can be recycled.
Customers should shred anything containing sensitive personal information before placing it in the carts, cautioned Snyder. One customer contacted Osio with a great idea for handling all those little pieces of shredded material — she will now request paper bags at the grocery store, and then use the bags to contain the tiny pieces of paper so they won’t be in danger of flying off to become litter as they are dumped into RDS’ trucks.
With the holidays here, Snyder expects the recycling volume to increase even more with gift boxes, wrapping paper, and ribbons being added to the mix.
While all recyclables should be clean, they don’t need to be spotless, according to Snyder. Pizza delivery boxes with grease stains are OK, said Osio, but food particles should be removed. Larger cardboard boxes can be flattened or cut up to fit inside the cart so that its hinged lid will remain closed.
Recycling plastics continues to be a bit tricky, but well worth the effort to reduce the burden on the Ramona landfill.
Customers need to check the “chasing arrow” triangular symbol on the bottom of the plastic item. If the number embossed inside the triangle is “1” or “2,” then that type of plastic can be recycled. Containers with “3” through “7” in the triangle cannot be recycled currently. Plastics with no chasing arrow symbol, such as plastic hangers used by stores to display clothing, also cannot be recycled.
Plastic containers, glass bottles and jars, as well as aluminum and steel cans (including pet food cans) should be rinsed out before being placed in the cart. However, according to Snyder, it is not necessary to remove all traces of the former contents.
Some of the more questionable items that customers may want to recycle include milk or juice cartons. The wax coating on such cartons prevents their recycling, said Snyder. That infernal hard plastic clamshell packaging is also non-recyclable.
However, mixed packaging with soft plastic wrap holding an item on a cardboard backing can be recycled. Plastic caps on bottles and jars are acceptable as well, according to Snyder.
Once RDS customers have filled their blue cart, they place it at the curb with their regular trash. The cart should be facing forward with the opening side of the lid toward the street. RDS guidelines state that carts need to be a minimum of two feet away from other trash containers and three feet from obstructions such as parked cars, mailboxes, trees and telephone poles. This will allow the automated arm on the recycling truck clear access to the carts.
After the trucks have completed their routes, they return to RDS’ transfer station on Maple Street in Ramona where the recyclables are piled before being loaded into an 18-wheel truck that takes the materials to recycling centers operated by EDCO Disposal.
Prior to the start of their new system, RDS normally sent one 18-wheeler down the hill weekly. Now workers are filling at least two per week, according to Snyder.
Employees at the EDCO plants separate the commingled recyclables, bundle them, and then ship them to processing plants in the United States, or abroad, where they are rendered into brand new materials.
The continuing push to increase participation in recycling programs was instigated by the passage of California Assembly Bill 939, known as the Integrated Waste Management Act, in 1989, said Snyder.
The bill mandated that by the year 2000 California cities and counties must reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and other disposal sites by at least 50 per cent of the amount sent in 1990. San Diego County met and even exceeded the mandated reduction level.
The growing popularity of RDS’ recycling program will further extend the viability of the county landfill in Ramona, said Snyder.
For more information on what can be recycled, Snyder recommends customers use Ramona Disposal’s Web site at ramonadisposal.com or EDCO’s Web site at edcodisposal.com, or contact Ramona Disposal at 789-0516.