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County close to recycling goal

Dave Moller

Nevada County has not reached the state’s 50-percent recycling rate, but it’s getting close.

Like many rural counties, including those neighboring Nevada County, the cost of recycling 50 percent of its trash has been prohibitive, despite a 1989 state edict requiring it. But now, expertise and efforts could bring the county in line with that rate by the end of the year, according to Tracey Harper, the county’s recycling coordinator.

Harper said the cost of recycling equipment and the low rate of trash generated per person in rural areas has made the 50-percent goal elusive in Nevada County. But, she said, the state knows that many cities and counties can’t make the goal and continue to work with them before levying fines.

That’s the case in Nevada County, which hit 39 percent in 2004, the last year for state report figures.

“That’s a very respectable rate for a rural county,” said Roni Java at the state’s Integrated Waste Management Board. “We know they’re trying to reach 50.”

Harper said the county’s numbers will rise for the 2005 report and hit the 50-percent rate per month at the end of this year.

The only other rural county in the region close to Nevada County is Placer County, which had 49 percent in 2004. Sierra County was at 21 percent, Plumas County at 28 percent, Lassen County at 29 percent, and Butte County also at 29 percent. A combined Sutter-Yuba County had a rate of 39 percent.

In her annual report this week to the board of supervisors, Harper said the county’s “Green Team” in-house government recycling efforts have cut trash pickup to three days a week from five at the Rood Center. The county has saved $6,000 annually the past three years due to recycling, Harper said.

According to Waste Management, the area’s trash collector, county offices are recycling 8,700 pounds of materials every week. The firm estimates the Rood Center alone recycles 3,000 pounds of cardboard every year.

The Green Team has also landed $667,000 in state grants to continue trash reuse efforts in the county, Harper said. This year, state grants for household waste and used oil programs totaled $81,000.

The board accepted a request from Harper to use recycled paper whenever possible within the county. County workers will also be urged to recycle through their in-house Internet service, Harper said.

Harper also said the county is spending $2,000 to put vinyl and Rusty the Raccoon recycling mascot faces on its delivery van, “To make a rolling advertisement for the program. It’s going to be very colorful.”

Harper said she will also be working with Waste Management in the near future on plans to dispose of hazardous household waste recently banned from state landfills. Those items include batteries, electronic products and anything else that uses mercury, like greeting cards that light up when opened.


To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

Recycling questions?

To find out how and what you can recycle, contact:

• Nevada County Recycling Hotline, 265-1768, or go online to http://new.mynevadacounty.com/iwm/.

• Waste Management, 274-3090, or http://www.wm.com.

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