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County touts recycled goods to help meet state law

Kevin Wiser
Dave MollerThis bench in front of Rood Administrative Center is made of recycled materials.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The bench outside Rood Administrative Center in Nevada City is made up of recycled plastic milk jugs and wood waste that has no further use.

“We’re now finding other uses for these materials, instead of landfilling or burning them,” said Tracey Harper, the country’s recycling coordinator.

The bench, Harper said, is one example of the county’s effort to purchase and re-use “recycled content products,” and reduce the volume of material going to landfills.

The California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 mandated that cities and counties adopt and implement a plan to divert the amount of waste going to landfills by 50 percent by 2000.

Nevada County’s diversion rate currently stands at 43 percent, and failure to achieve the 50 percent mandate could result in fines of up to $10,000 a day.

The county has applied for an extension to 2004, which Harper expects will be granted.

“But the community needs to get involved and participate to achieve that 50 percent goal, ‘the community’ meaning both residents and businesses,” she said.

To serve as a model for the community and promote waste reduction, re-use and recycling programs, Nevada County supervisors adopted a Green Procurement and Sustainable Practices Policy Tuesday.

“We’re going to look at everything we do here and all the waste we generate, and consider ways to reduce and divert that,” Harper said. “Our goal is to reduce the waste coming from the Rood Center by more than 50 percent.”

The county will purchase recycled content and environmentally friendly products, and switch from paper to online and Web-based procedures where ever it can.

“And we’ll be asking our customers and clients to do the same,” Harper said.

A major part of the county’s recycling effort involves community outreach and education, she said.

“You’re not really recycling unless you purchase recycled products,” Harper said. “Read labels in stores. They’ll tell you if a product has recycled content. The higher the post-consumer percentage, the better.”

In May, the county will offer free business waste audits in western Nevada County to identify what recyclable materials are in business waste streams and how they can be diverted.

“The benefit for businesses is that by having an audit, we can help them reduce their disposal costs, which can be significant,” Harper said.

To schedule a business waste-audit program, call Harper at 470-2585.

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