City's recycling is improving, officials say

GLENDALE — The city has exceeded the state requirement of diverting 50% of solid waste from the Scholl Canyon Landfill for three consecutive years due to more residents and businesses using city recycling programs, officials said, and the amount diverted continues to rise.

The city’s diversion rate was 53% in 2006, 54% in 2007 and is expected to exceed 57% in 2008, officials said.

“We’re very, very proud,” Public Works Director Steve Zurn said.

Assembly Bill 939 stipulates that at least 50% of solid waste must be diverted from the landfill each year. Diverting some trash from the landfill to recyclable programs allows the city to be more green and extends the life of the landfill, which is predicted to reach its capacity in 2020, Zurn said.

“It’s saving landfill space . . . this is saving that space for future generations,” he said.

The 57% diversion rate is the highest the city has hit since the state requirement took effect in 2000, Zurn said.

But the city has been trying to reach state diversion rates since 1995, when the state required that it meet a 25% minimum rate at that time, he said.

The state’s diversion rate is 58%, but cities and counties are not required to match the state’s rate, said Jordan Scott, a California Integrated Waste Management Board spokesperson.

Some cities don’t reach 50%, while others exceed the minimum requirement, Scott said.

Glendale’s recycling programs, particularly in residential areas, made the most impact on the diversion rate, Zurn said.

“The residents that are doing it themselves at their homes are the biggest contributors to this,” he said.

Residents have been separating cans, bottles and plastics from their trash bins and have been placing their yard clippings in green bins provided by the city, he said.

The city recycles materials gathered by residents, and crews take the yard clippings to the landfill and process them as cover for the landfill, Zurn said.

The city’s construction and demolition debris program also helped with the increased diversion rate, he said.

The program requires builders to put up a deposit and, at the end of their project, show proof that they recycled some of their building waste, Zurn said. The builders’ deposit is returned after they prove that they recycled their project’s debris, he said.

Recycled materials are a common element in projects around Glendale. Most city road projects use rubberized asphalt, which is partially made from recycled tires, Zurn said.

The city also recycles asphalt or concrete from old projects, crushes it and puts it back into streets as a base for new projects, he said.

 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at

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