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LAH sets new high in waste recovery


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier GreenWaste Recovery collects garbage, yard trimmings and recyclables in Los Altos Hills, where more than 98 percent of residents’ waste is recycled before it hits the landfill.

Los Altos Hills residents can take pride in their disposal habits after recent data revealed that more than 98 percent of the town’s curbside Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) – more commonly referred to as trash – is recycled before reaching the landfill.

That’s a new high – and well above the national MSW recovery rate, recorded at 34 percent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a 2010 survey.

When GreenWaste Recovery Inc. began collecting garbage, recycling and yard trimmings in Los Altos Hills in 2009 – the company’s first full year of service in the community – the town sent 1,357.5 tons of trash to the landfill. By the end of 2012, GreenWaste noted that Los Altos Hills reduced its landfill footprint to 549.4 tons of trash – a 60 percent drop in four years.

“Once you set up your program and give them an education about what can be recycled, most people want to be responsible,” said Sara Treat, GreenWaste’s environmental outreach coordinator.

According to Treat, factors influencing the local trend in waste reduction may include fluctuations in the economy and a host of plastic bag and styrofoam container bans in local municipalities. She noted that GreenWaste’s collection and processing system makes recovering value from even the most overlooked “low-hanging fruit” of commodities possible.

In addition to standard trash and recyclables pickup for approximately 2,800 homes in Los Altos Hills, GreenWaste trucks provide bins for collecting compostable waste. Organic items like food scraps and yard trimmings account for approximately 27 percent of all trash nationally, according to the EPA.

GreenWaste sorts collected waste at its San Jose material recovery facility. Items that can be composted are sent to its facility in Gilroy for processing into MSW compost and organic-certified compost. After all collection and processing, GreenWaste is able to divert 98.9 percent of curbside recyclable materials and 98.1 percent of compostable and garbage waste from landfills.

As part of the company’s contract with Los Altos Hills, 20 yards of organic compost are delivered twice weekly to the town’s corporation lot at 27500 Purissima Road. Waste collected in curbside bins is reused as food for local gardens and landscapes.

For more information, visit greenwaste.com/residential-services/los-altos-hills.

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