CERRITOS — Residents will be recycling at least part of their trash by the end of the year to get a jump on state recycling laws, city officials said.
The City Council decided April 4 that it wants to recycle something in a hurry, and city staff members have been scurrying around searching for ideas.
"I think we'll go with grass very soon," said Councilwoman Ann B. Joynt, adding that one of her first acts as the new mayor will be to set up a solid-waste management committee for the city.
Under state law, all municipalities must have recycling plans in place by the middle of next year and by 1995 must cut by 25% the amount of garbage and trash produced by residents and businesses. By the year 2000, cities must cut their waste by 50%.
"We are looking for a lot of advice from the (Los Angeles County) Sanitation Districts," said City Public Services Director Vincent Brar. "This is such a new field, especially for cities who have no experience in recycling and haven't done it in the past."
Joynt said she expects little resistence to recycling from residents: "I think this community is ready for it."
The Earth Day celebration today gives the city a chance to capitalize on public enthusiasm for new conservation measures, she added.
"Earth Day represents an awareness that has reached right down to all the people in the community and provided motivation so that they want to be a part of it," she said. "And it's up to us as a council to provide the mechanism."
The resolution to start recycling, which was unanimously adopted by the council, was the last proposal introduced by departing Councilwoman Diana Needham, who was prohibited by city charter from seeking a third consecutive term.
"It was her environmental last hurrah," said Joynt, who was selected Wednesday by the council to succeed Needham.
"The City Council," Needham said, "could wait until we're mandated, but I wanted the city to be in the forefront."
Several cities, she pointed out, already have recycling programs.
Downey, for example, has had residential recycling since 1976 for glass, newspapers and aluminum. The city recently added plastic soft drink and water bottles to its list.
"One of the first things we've got to do," Brar said, "is do a waste-stream analysis to tell us how much and what is in our trash. Then we can say, 'OK, we have so much . . . and this is what can be reduced from it.' "
The most likely choice on the list of possible recyclable items, Brar said, is clean green waste: grass clippings, shrubbery, leaves and tree branches. It can be sold and reused as compost or as cover for landfills.
It is so difficult to come up with markets for the recycled items and so expensive to hire waste management consultants to draw up plans, Brar said, that he will talk to other cities and to Sanitation Districts officials about possibly "hiring a common consultant to come up with a common plan."