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Recycling: Less talk, more action

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Despite talking the talk, Santa Fe hasn’t been all that great on walking the walk when it comes to recycling.

The countywide rate, as reported by the state Environment Department, was 13.2 percent in 2010 and 9.9 percent in 2011. That compares to a statewide rate of 16.2 and 21 percent, respectively.

It was welcome news, then, to see a couple of small breakthroughs recently, with the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station announcing that it will now accept televisions as part of its electronics recycling program. Also, the city has finally positioned some containers for plastic bottles and aluminum cans on the Plaza for recycling of those items – although, we’ve got to say, the disposal containers, largely consisting of braced plastic bags, appear ready to blow across town with the first serious wind.

Also, BuRRT and the Chainbreaker Collective have partnered to reuse bicycle parts, while a pilot program is being established for Reunity Resources to pick up food waste from area businesses and take it to create compost at Payne’s Nurseries.

The Eldorado transfer station also reopened its ReUse Area, where residents can drop off their unwanted but usable items for others to claim.

And just recently the city’s Finance Committee endorsed instructions to city staff to research a number of steps to encourage further recycling, steps that Councilor Patti Bushee called “no-brainers.”

Those include requiring city businesses to set up bins for recyclable materials alongside their regular trash containers, and for the city to establish at least a couple of collection days per year for pick-up of customers’ “green waste” – weeds, tree and shrub trimmings, and other yard waste that can be converted to compost.

All commendable ideas, although we give special kudos to businesses and agencies that have set up their own recycling programs without waiting for the city to order them to do so.

And, since recycling requires a market for its materials to succeed, the city is looking at requiring asphalt used on Santa Fe roads to contain 10 percent recycled glass.

A resolution on the asphalt, business recycling containers and green waste pick-up goes before the full City Council on Wednesday. Since it only calls for city staff to evaluate those potential requirements, we say go full speed ahead so any snags and downsides can be identified.

We wouldn’t mind seeing the research go even further, looking at recycling separation and pick-up at multi-residential dwellings, such as apartment buildings, and maybe even considering programs where the city simply picks up trash all in one bin, but then separates out the recyclable items at the landfill or a transfer station.

Then let’s stop talking, and start acting.

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