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Santa Fe panel rejects idea for glass recycling drop-off sites

SANTA FE – Santa Fe’s Public Utilities Committee on Wednesday voted 3-2 to reject the Environmental Services Division’s recommendation to create five drop-off locations for glass recycling in the hope that a plan for a true automated single-stream recycling system can be developed.

That doesn’t mean the proposal is dead, however, as it is scheduled to go before the Finance Committee on July 13.

City Councilors Patti Bushee, Bill Dimas and Joe Maestas voted against the proposal, with Bushee and Maestas saying making a decision to go ahead with the plan would be premature.

Cindy Padilla, Environmental Services Division director, presented the proposal and explained why staff was recommending drop-off locations as a better plan than a second option of biweekly curb-side pickup.

Among the advantages, she said, were that drop-off locations would be more cost efficient, and the sites would be permanent and accessible 24 hours a day.

Bushee interrupted the presentation, which included data on the percentage of glass, plastic and paper waste a national scale, saying she wanted to see local data that would show the kind of waste people in Santa Fe were throwing out.

She also said she was skeptical about the success of a program that required people to sort glass and haul it off to a glass recycling location.

“People want to do the right thing,” she said, acknowledging that Santa Feans support green initiatives. “They also want convenience.”

Maestas agreed, saying people may “sour” on recycling if it wasn’t convenient. He and Bushee both said the city should revisit a “pay as you throw” method and the idea of a true automated single-stream recycling program that wouldn’t require people to separate glass, as well as paper and plastics.

Dimas did not explain his vote.

Though they, too, agreed single-stream recycling would be ideal, councilors Peter Ives and Chris Rivera supported staff’s recommendation.

Ives noted that the City Council had previously expressed support for it by resolution.

The result of the vote made another proposal to fund the program with $4 million borrowed from the Water Division nearly moot.

The committee decided to vote on it anyway, rejecting it 4-0 with Ives abstaining.

In other action, Bushee postponed for six months her proposal to repeal an ordinance that allows $1.7 million to be transferred from enterprise funds, like the Water Division’s, to the general fund as a budget balancing measure.

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