Last month I wrote about summer vacation recycling finds and how some places shine as examples of what can be done in terms of waste reduction and resource recovery. Every town, city, and rural community has different issues to deal with in this regard and Sedona is no exception. The main stumbling block for all of us living in Arizona is a disconnected system lacking any sort of state funding or support. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality had waste reduction and education grant funds taken away in 2009, and there were no longer any opportunities to apply for assistance with new programs or equipment through their grant program. This funding was provided by a portion of landfill fees being allocated for waste reduction, which makes perfect sense. During the recession these funds were swept up into the state’s general fund and, as a result, for the last five years no new programs have been funded. This is not the way most states handled these funds and many are still giving out grants and are creating innovative solutions to waste. In one case, in rural New Mexico, $600,000 was given to duplicate the program Sedona Recycles already has in place. It is called hub and spoke recycling, with our facility in Sedona being an example of the hub and our 20 drop-off sites the spokes. Even without grant funding we were already way ahead. But don’t get me wrong, the financial support is an important part of seeing new programs launched and new materials accepted. Now we come to the part where we talk about solutions. There are a number of ways that each of us can reduce our waste and deal in the most responsible manner with what is left and we can all challenge our state officials to work toward the sustainable future they have said they would like to see.
What would a perfect picture look like in our community? Well if I were queen it might look something like this: We would have one trash hauler on our roads whether it was for the entire city or the city was divided into quadrants with one truck per quadrant. The results of this would be noise reduction, decreased diesel exhaust and the resultant air pollution and decreased wear and tear to our roads. Each garbage truck travelling our streets is estimated to be equal to 1,000 cars in the amount of damage it causes. The trash companies would offer 3 sizes of trash receptacles with a corresponding price reduction based on the size you choose. This is pay-as-you-throw and is a proven method of increasing recycling rates. Next everyone would have curbside recycling using a sort at the curb collection method which would allow the individual to put everything together in their bin and the recycling crew would do the sorting. No compaction and no contamination. This collection method would preserve the integrity of the materials being collected making for cleanest feedstock possible for real recycling eliminating the loss of material that comes with single stream and mixed waste recycling. It would also include glass collection which is an important part of any recycling program and is often not available. Next under my green reign we would have commercial composting which would recover all the food waste from the waste stream before it hits the trash can and would include landscape debris eliminating the need to haul these materials to a transfer station to be burned or buried. The result of composting would be high quality soil which is much needed in an area as dry as Sedona with soil that is less than desirable when gardening or growing food. Speaking of food the next step is an expansive community garden where everyone would have a chance to try their hand at growing their own vegetables. We would have an option available for our hazardous waste that would include chemicals and paint that should never be landfill bound. There would be shops to fix whatever is broken versus throwing it away and this would help to curb the over consumption of resources. There would be a recovery operation for construction materials which could be offered for sale at a much reduced prices making something seen as trash a reusable resource. This is really more than butterflies and rainbows it could be a reality as it is in many communities. Whether all these things I would like to see exist alone or in one place known as a resource recovery park it is possible, so how do we make it happen. The best way is to make it known to the people you have elected to serve your community. The only way they know what you want is for you to tell them and tell them often. I always say that Sedona is in the position to be a model in our state in terms of resource management. We have everything we need to make it happen. So let’s make it more than a dream and move forward into a local, sustainable and green future.
by Jill McCutcheon, Sedona Recycles
Sedona Red Rock News
September 17, 2014