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Santa Fe staff told to examine new ways to increase recycling

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A new round of measures to abet recycling efforts and reduce landfill waste are under consideration at Santa Fe City Hall.

On Monday, the city’s Finance Committee endorsed a resolution directing city staff to look at requiring commercial businesses in town to provide “equal space” for recycling containers as well as trash receptacles.

Also, the city staff would be directed to look at the feasibility of requiring that asphalt used in Santa Fe include at least 10 percent recycled glass collected in the city.

Environmental Services director Cindy Padilla said the details of the proposals still need to be fleshed out. City staff are researching, for instance, whether it’s reasonable that asphalt used in Santa Fe contain 10 percent recycled glass, or whether some businesses could be exempt from having to use recycling bins.

If new ordinances are drawn up, they would still need to be approved by the City Council.

Councilor Patti Bushee, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said at the Finance Committee meeting that the proposals grew out of a meeting she had with members of the Sustainable Santa Fe Commission on how waste in the local landfill could be reduced.

Bushee called the ideas “no-brainers” and “low-hanging fruit.”

“These are just simply appeals to try and get us to do things that we probably should have been doing a long time ago,” she said.

Padilla said it’s important for the city to work at creating its own markets for the recyclable material collected in Santa Fe.

Bushee’s measure also calls for consideration of creating an ordinance that would require the city to schedule at least two “green waste” collection days annually, picking up tree clippings, shrubs and other yard waste of city trash customers at no extra charge.

The resolution goes before the entire City Council on Oct. 30. The council recently passed a ban on distribution of single-use plastic bags at city stores that goes into effect next year.

Recycle food too

The Finance Committee on Monday also approved a contract for a local company to build up a pilot program where food waste is turned into compost.

Reunity Resources of Glorieta would take food waste from local suppliers, likely mostly restaurants, and use it to create compost at Payne’s Nurseries. The compost would then be available for purchase.

Under the proposed contract, the city would lease 64-gallon trash containers for the food waste to Reunity Resources for $1 a year. The city wouldn’t pay anything to Reunity Resources, but the company could collect fees from program participants. Reunity Resources is proposing to charge restaurants $50 for one to three bins collected once a week.

The pilot program contract would last for one year with renewal options.

Padilla said about 20 percent of Santa Fe’s waste stream is food. She said restaurants taking part in the new program might see a reduction in their overall trash bill.

Reunity Resources, a beneficiary of the city’s “Velocity Project” business accelerator initiative, already collects used cooking oil from restaurants and transforms it into biodiesel that can be used as fuel. The company was selected to create the food waste program after responding to the city’s request for proposals.

Padilla said the city will benefit from the data the program provides. It’s possible the city could eventually create its own large-scale food waste/compost program, for instance. Whole Foods Market is working with the city on a small food waste pilot program.

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