Trash turns to awards treasure for sanitary district


COSTA MESA — The city’s sanitary district was honored nationally for its program that teaches kids to recycle which, in turn, sends money to local schools.

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District received the 2011 Bronze Education Excellence Award from the Solid Waste Assn. of North America for its telephone book recycling program that gives schools money for saving the hefty books from the trash.

“We’re very excited about [the award],” said district office manager Joan Revak, who coordinates and manages the recycling program. “We’re very proud of our telephone book recycling program.”


Revak with district board members Mike Scheafer and Jim Fitzpatrick will go to Nashville, Tenn., in August to accept their award at the Solid Waste Assn. of North America’s national conference.

The district opened up its telephone book recycling program in 1996 to local schools to give them a chance to earn money and teach the students about the importance of recycling, Revak said.

The schools are given monetary awards based on how many pounds of phone books are collected per student.

The Kline School in Costa Mesa was awarded $1,500 last year for recycling nearly 60 pounds. The private K-8 school on Adams Avenue has participated for the last 11 years and has earned about $6,550, said school founder Susan Kline.

Kline said she jumped at the chance to get involved because the school puts an emphasis on teaching students to be environmental stewards.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” she said. “We have a great appreciation for our environment.”

Last year, 21 schools participated, and up to 28 schools have been involved in the program over the years, Revak said.

Since the program was opened to schools, more than 206,000 books have been recycled, saving more than 1,300 cubic yards of landfill space, 9,916 trees, 2.8 million gallons of water and nearly 1.7 million kilowatts of electricity. In turn, schools have received more than $141,000 for supplies, books, technology and other essentials.

The books are recycled into new telephone books and phone bill return envelopes.