The nuances of waste took center stage at an Earth Day celebration Saturday at the Burbank Recycle Center, where attendees were schooled in the differences between trash and recyclable goods and encouraged to start compost piles.
"I would love to see more food recycling," Ferris Kawar, recycling specialist with the city of Burbank, said of his goals for the community. "I think we do very well on recycling bottles and cans and glass. We are way above average in terms of the state and certainly the country. But food recycling, which is composting, is where we do OK."
The Family Fair marked the first time the city has hosted its own such Earth Day celebration, Kawar said. Volunteers distributed reusable bags, while others demonstrated what sorts of items should be placed in recycling bins and what items need to go in the trash.
Guests inspected booths, learning about the appropriate way to dispose of spent batteries and how to better landscape their yards to minimize water waste.
"It is to really highlight the sustainable resources that are here in the community, and to really show people the different opportunities," Kawar said of the event.
The fair also served as a public debut of sorts for Burrtec Waste Industries Inc., which took over operations at the recycle center in January after the previous operator was accused of fraud.
"We are excited about partnering with the city to create awareness for recycling and diverting material, and finding the benefits of reuse for the material that is collected inside the city," said Steve Kanow, director of recycling with Burrtec.
Last year, the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovering — known as CalRecycle — revoked the recycle center's certification amid accusations that then-operator Burbank Recycling Inc. and its owner, Geoff Folsom, bilked the state out of $32 million by submitting claims for out-of-state recyclables.
Burbank Recycling Inc. had contracted with the city of Burbank to operate its recycle center since 2004.
Burrtec expects to renew the certification within a few months, Kanow said. Once it is restored, Burrtec, the city and residents will once again be able to participate in a state programs that include reimbursements for recyclable materials collected in Burbank.
"Right now, we are paying scrap value for the material that is coming in on the buy-back," Kanow said. "We will be able to up the amount of money that we are paying to the customers that bring in materials. The city of Burbank has actually done a wonderful job on education. People come in here every day."
The Fontana-based Burrtec already operates in Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Claremont, Rialto, Riverside and other cities.
Burrtec aims to enhance the already strong recycling program, including public education, that Burbank has in place, Kanow said.
"If you look at the material coming in here from residential recycling routes, it is really clean," Kanow said.