The city of Palo Alto near San Jose has a plan to cut down the amount of waste that is going to be sent to their landfill. The strategy is to separate food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard trimmings into a green waste container and send it all to the Sunnyvale Smart Station (located in the nearby city of Sunnyvale, CA) where it will be sorted. The debris will then be shipped to the Z-Best facility in Gilroy, California where it is utilized for composting and creating various compost products. As of now, the city sends 6,000 tons of this potentially compostable material to its landfill every year.

This pilot program would also provide citizens of Palo Alto with blue bins to use for items that are recyclable to be sorted at the GreenWaste facility in San Jose. This is in conjunction with standard refuse pickup in regular trash bins for those items that are not able to be composted or recycled. The call for this program arose after the city council Finance Committee asked the city to come up with a way to cut costs in regard to its waste collection and how that was handled in Palo Alto. If the program is approved by city council it will be implemented in its first neighborhood as early as April according to a Mercury News article on the subject.

The program would be run for twelve months with an overall review of it being taken in 2014 to gauge its effectiveness. Not everyone, of course, is a proponent of this plan. According to one resident of Palo Alto in an email to city council via Mercury News, “I urge you to vote against this plan. It appears to be a public health hazard.” Others don’t feel that way however, championing it for being ahead of the curve when it comes to handling waste in new and unique manners. This type of service is already implemented elsewhere, as we have mentioned in previous blog posts, specifically on the West Coast of the United States.

As made abundantly clear, the state of waste removal has drastically changed in recent years, especially in the handling of recyclable materials. Refuse hauling companies are looking at the industry very differently from how they have in the past. There is no longer recyclable and non-recyclable, there are classes in between. It’s fascinating to see the progression of cities across the country as they are making major steps of progress in how they handle specific forms of debris. Moving forward there will hopefully be a spark that ignites in many more cities in the United States and across the world.