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BREA : Recycling Method Paying Off, City Says


There aren't any Earth First! pins on John W. Boyd's collar, and the 18-year resident of Brea hasn't plastered environmental slogans on his bumper. But Boyd and many of his neighbors have jumped aboard the recycling bandwagon.

In fact, about 90% of Brea's 8,500 households participate in the city's recycling program, which started last November.

Of the nearly 1,400 tons of garbage generated in a month by the city, 27%, or 375 tons, is recycled.

Director of Maintainance Services Patrick McCarron credits both the citizens of Brea and the program that the city adopted for the success.

"We did a lot of research into other cities' programs. We wanted it to be as easy and efficient as possible," McCarron said.

The system chosen by Brea is called co-mingling. All recyclable items are placed in a green, 110-gallon container and other trash goes into another container.

The recyclables are picked up every other week, and the non-recyclables are picked up weekly.

Many cities require residents to separate glass, paper, plastic and aluminum products, and place the materials in baskets that are picked up at the curb.

At first, Boyd thought that Brea had adopted that kind of system. But when he saw that the process was not as time-consuming as he once thought, Boyd became a believer.

Instead of throwing trash into the compactor, Boyd and his family are now accustomed to sorting trash into two bins.

"I think this program is incredible," Boyd said. "It's obviously a well-thought-out program."

Both bins are provided by the city and are designed to be picked up by an automated trash truck.

The city switched to the automated trucks when the recycling program began.

The added expense of the two bins per household and the new trucks raised trash bills by about 43 cents a month, McCarron said, although the program saves the city money.

The city receives half the proceeds from the sale of the recyclables, splitting the profits with Brea Disposal Inc., the company that collects, sorts and processes the garbage.

So far the city has earned an average of $4,500 a month from recycling.

Coupled with a savings of $17.75 for every ton of trash Brea avoids dumping in landfills, the program results in a $11,000 monthly bonus for the city, McCarron explained.

Another benefit of the co-mingle method is the broader range of materials that the city can accept for recycling.

Anything from junk mail to cardboard to tin cans can be tossed in the green containers, while basket programs generally are limited to newspaper and paper bags, glass, aluminum cans and plastic items.

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