The City Council gave preliminary approval to a recycling plan in which a contractor will separate paper, bottles and cans instead of leaving the task to customers.
The plan, passed by the City Council on Tuesday, parts with the trend toward "curbside recycling" programs adopted by several neighboring cities, in which residents and businesses are given separate bins to separate recyclables.
Consultants from Cal State Fullerton's Environmental Institute say the proposed program will cost residents about 50 cents more a month than curbside programs. However, the proposal will save the city about $4.5 million because it will not have to buy special barrels and vehicles.
The plan was adopted in response to a state law requiring all cities to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills 25% by 1995 and 50% by the year 2000.
The recycling plan calls for all waste to be collected and delivered to a "recovery facility," where trash is placed on conveyor belts and recyclables are removed by hand. In this way, all residents and businesses will participate and less money will have to be spent educating residents on what is recyclable, said Dr. Stewart Long, a consultant for the Environmental Institute.
"Many people don't know what is recyclable," he said.
Experts found that only a quarter of Fullerton's waste came from single-family homes, making a residential, curbside recycling program less effective. A curbside program would reduce landfill waste by only 5%, Long said.
By taking trash to a recovery facility, Long said, the city and its waste hauler, MG Disposal, won't have to spend money re-educating the public when updated technology makes it possible to recycle additional wastes.
"Let's not buy something that in three years isn't going to do the job," Long said.
Long estimated that the recycling program would cost $2.3 million if it uses a recovery facility in Fullerton, $3.6 million if an Anaheim facility is used and $4.4 million if a facility in Stanton is used.
To fund the recycling programs, monthly waste collection fees are expected to rise between 22% and 35%, or a hike of $2.07 to $3.32, depending on which collection facility is selected, Long said. For commercial businesses, rates will go up 14% to 28% a month, or increases of $12.89 to $25.70. For industrial businesses, the fees will rise 30% to 72%, or increases of $65.94 to $161.18, he said.
Administration and program costs were estimated at $247,300, including the salary of an environmental planner and a recycling and source reduction coordinator. The costs would be paid through a surcharge the city imposed on waste disposal rates shortly after the state law was passed in 1989.
Plans also include encouraging homeowners to start their own back-yard composting, strengthening public education and promotion efforts, lobbying for reduced packaging laws, limiting the number of refuse cans that are picked up and offering businesses a lower rubbish rate for auditing their waste stream.
A final draft of the plans will come before the council again Dec. 17.