Berkeley, California is a place that is already known for good waste removal habits. Not only on the campus, but even in the city itself, the streets are clean and well kept, with minimal litter or refuse. Also, there is opportunity for recycling all over the place, with houses separating waste for either landfill, recycling or compost. Separating waste for composting (IE food waste) is something many cities across the country do not participate in. Items that are in this category include: milk cartons, flowers, coffee filters, waxed paper containers, coffee cups and their sleeves, chopsticks, food, straws and lids from beverages, tea bags, napkins, tissue boxes, and potato utensils. This compost option encompasses much more than what the residential recycling options are, but this week, the Ecology Center of Berkeley (a nonprofit which handles the residential curbside recycling program for the city) has announced some additions.

The curbside residential recycling for Berkeley will now accept rigid plastic containers like margarine and butter tubs, along with more plastic options. This is just another step in the city’s goal of achieving zero waste being sent to landfills by 2020. It is expected that with this newly expanded program the city will be able to divert almost 200 tons of plastics from landfills just in the first year.

“The very thing that makes plastic attractive to packagers — lightweight, cheap, easy to customize — are the same things that make it an undesirable material for recycling,” said Martin Bourque, executive director of the Ecology Center. “Yet it is an ever-increasing part of consumer packaging, and we need to do what we can to keep it out of landfills and waterways.”

UC Berkeley is also changing its trashcan design helping to not only become more efficient but also to put less of a strain on workers who must empty these bins. These new closed-top bins are able to keep out rain water and pests from the refuse and will hopefully avoid injuring any more workers. The bins are interchangeable (between bottles and cans, landfill waste, and mixed paper) and since they are being manufactured locally cost less than nine hundred dollars to produce. They were also designed by students of the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, with prototypes being made before the final product was rolled-out.

We’ll update you on any future additions to Berkeley’s residential or commercial recycling programs as information becomes available. The Bay Area is certainly one of the more interesting locations in America to keep an eye on in the recycling field.

Story Via The Daily Californian