A plan for recycling residential trash in Los Angeles drew criticism from unexpected corners Friday at the first public hearing on the project.
Residents of the city’s 720,000 houses and small apartment buildings, who would bear the weekly burden of having to prepare their trash for recycling, were conspicuously absent from the hearing before the Board of Public Works. But environmentalists and private trash haulers were ready to debate the 800-page proposal submitted by the city’s Bureau of Sanitation.
If enacted by the City Council, as expected, the plan would require city residents to sort their glass and plastic bottles, aluminum cans, newspapers and yard debris before the trash is collected.
In addition to the extra work, city residents may also have to pay for the project. Among the financing plans being explored by a special mayoral task force is a $3.66 monthly fee for each household.
But no one who appeared at the hearing complained about extra work or new fees.
Instead, several environmentalists criticized the proposal for not going far enough.
“Styrofoam really should be banned,” said Sally Neubauer of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park.
Neubauer also said she was concerned that the city would use landfills that have already been converted to public parks to process the recyclable trash.
Others complained that the proposal does not adequately address what will happen to the recycled trash. For the plan to work economically, some environmentalists said, the city must find buyers for the recycled trash.
“The key to the success of this recycling program will be the ability to develop new markets for this material,” said Barbara Fine, chairwoman of Solid Waste Citizen Advisory Group.
Hearing chairman Dennis Nishikawa, vice president of the Board of Public Works, said he was not surprised that no residents came to oppose the plan Friday.
“I think residents are pretty well educated to the fact they want to do something about the environment,” Nishikawa said.
Under the proposal, each household would be given three containers, one for recyclable trash such as aluminum cans, the second for garbage that cannot be recycled and the third for yard debris.
About 90,000 households would begin separating all but the yard wastes as early as July. The rest of the city’s households would be phased in within three years. Separating yard wastes would also be added within two years.
During the first five years, the program would cost an estimated $66 million a year, city officials have said. But $13 million of the cost could be earned back through the sale of recyclable material and reduced landfill costs.
The Board of Public Works will hold a second public hearing on the plan at City Hall on Thursday at 6 p.m.