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City boosts its zero-waste effort

Plan calls for almost nothing going to landfill by 2030, officials say.

December 10, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Glendale Recycling Center workers sort through trash passing by on a conveyor belt at the recycling center in Glendale on Thursday, December 8, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Glendale Recycling Center workers sort through trash…

The way Glendale deals with trash faces steady change over the next 20 years as the city lays the groundwork to eventually have zero waste reaching its landfill.

Some changes have already passed through City Council chambers, but others — such as a program that uses microorganisms to break down food, and mandatory commercial recycling — are still in their infancy.

The zero-waste effort was unanimously approved by the City Council Tuesday, although the individual components of the broad-based plan will still need to come back for the green light before they’re implemented, said Public Works Director Steve Zurn.

In 2000, the state required 50% of waste be diverted from landfills, but trends point to tighter restrictions, said Tom Brady, Glendale’s senior integrated waste planner.

Glendale currently diverts about 60% of the roughly 162,000 tons of trash generated each year.

The new plan calls for 75% diversion from Scholl Canyon Landfill by 2020 and 90% by 2030, eventually getting to nearly zero waste.

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“That’s a pretty heavy goal,” Zurn said.

The goals are one component of beefed-up environmental sustainability efforts, many of which have been spurred by state mandates, such as reducing city-produced greenhouse gases by 8% in 2020 and 12% in 2035.

The City Council also has supported a proposed ban on plastic bags.

Coming down the pipeline is another state rule calling on cities to plan for commercial and multi-family waste reduction by July 2012, Brady said.

Glendale officials plan to expand the city’s recycling center to do the separating work, since on-site separation would be a challenge, given the city’s diverse languages and large apartment population, Brady said.

The city is poised to implement greater recycling efforts through a new contract approved Tuesday with its recycling center operator, the Allan Company. Under the contract, the company will invest $410,000 to convert the center on West Chevy Chase Drive into a large-scale multi-waste recycling facility.

Commercial waste reduction may cost the city $350,000 a year, according to a city report.

Recycling bottles and cans alone won’t be enough to get Glendale to 75%. The city may have to recycle food as well, Brady said.

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