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Recycling program aims to influence others about reducing waste

The Burbank Recycle Center's fourth annual Master Recycler Program will be held on Saturday and will be about more than telling people to put recyclables in blue bins.

Amy Hammes, a recycling specialist at the center, said the goal of the free, seven-class program is to teach attendees how to master the zero-waste concept, which is focused on reducing one's waste to a near ultimate level.

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From January to April, the approximately 25 students enrolled in the program will learn the basics of recycling, what can and cannot be recycled and recognize what can be reused and repaired to extend the life of a product.

The program will also cover the impact businesses and corporations have on the environment, as well as the policies that are in place, being proposed and that should be brought forward to promote and enforce sustainability.

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"We're not activists; we're just teaching them to find where their passion is," Hammes said. "It's more about training them to change and to teach others about it. They might just use these concepts in their own home or at their child's school, or maybe it could be them wanting to start their own nonprofit, change their career or invent something … We're not making anyone do anything. We're just giving them the tools to be able to decide what's important for them."

Registration for the program filled up quicker than expected. Hammes said the class size is usually about 20 people, but she opted to increase it to about 25 in case people opt to drop out before the end of the course. She added that there are more than 20 people on a waiting list and that she received several more calls about the program on Tuesday.

Hammes said she can relate to those who are signing up for the program — she is just as enthusiastic about saving the environment as they are.

"We're the ones that wash our Ziploc baggies and reuse them," she said. "We just cannot stand waste."

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Aside from teaching people about what can and cannot be recycled, Hammes said the program will also focus on teaching people to embrace a reuse-and-repair mentality to try and curb the amount of waste a person creates.

In December, the recycle center hosted its first Fixit Clinic, during which people brought in their broken electronic items or appliances to learn how to fix them themselves.

The program was well received and attended, and in April the facility will host another clinic, Hammes said.

She said she hopes the people who will be attending this year's classes will pass on the knowledge they learn about waste and recycling to others.

"When we built this facility 25 years ago, it wasn't just about building a building to be in compliance with the state," Hammes said. "We did it to be a self-sustaining city, but to also have a really educated electorate that knows and understands this concept."

To learn more about the program, visit burbankrecycle.org.

Twitter: @acocarpio

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