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Tahoe, county ahead of state recycling goal

South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County – like many of the cities and counties in California – are doing well in their efforts to recycle and divert materials from landfills, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

The board, California’s primary recycling agency, announced this week that the unincorporated portions of El Dorado County and South Lake Tahoe were among regional jurisdictions that have exceeded the state requirement to reduce the amount of garbage in landfills.

“The state is extremely pleased with the hard work and determination that these communities have shown in terms of working to keep waste out of landfills,” said Dan Eaton, chairman of the Integrated Waste Management Board.



The state’s waste board reviews the recycling efforts of the state’s jurisdiction every two years, and the results released this week – along with those for Placerville, Truckee and the unincorporated parts of Sacramento County – were for 1995 and 1996.

By 1995, all cities and counties in California were required to keep 25 percent of their waste out of landfills. In 1995, South Lake Tahoe’s diversion percentage was 37; in 1996, it was 38.




“It’s always good news,” said Jeanne Lear, recycling program/safety officer for South Tahoe Refuse, which serves South Lake Tahoe, parts of El Dorado County and Stateline. “It’s nice to get the word out. Believe me, when we first started (diverting garbage from the landfill), the numbers were not nearly as fun to do. The program has built up.”

The other areas did well, too: El Dorado County’s diversion rates in 1995 and 1996 were 34 and 37 respectively; Placerville, 27 and 28; Truckee, 38 and 35; and Sacramento, 25 and 28.

Since May 1998, when the reviews began, the board has determined the 1995 and 1996 diversion rates for 273 of the 531 cities and counties in the state. Of the 273, only three have not reached the 25-percent mark. Fifty-six jurisdictions have exceeded 50 percent.

California’s diversion rate is at an all-time high of 32 percent, exceeding the national average.

With the passing of the Integrated Waste Management Act in 1989, all jurisdictions in California were required to divert at least 25 percent of their waste by 1995. The state also is trying to divert 50 percent of its waste by 2000.

South Tahoe Refuse opened its Materials Recovery Facility in 1995, where South Shore’s incoming garbage is separated for recycling. Over the past few years, the company also has implemented a variety of programs. Wood – including lumber, crates and dead trees – is transported daily to Minden, where it is chipped and used for compost. Through a white-paper route, workers pick up at least 1 ton of paper from South Shore businesses every week.

Lear said South Tahoe Refuse uses different formulas from the state for calculating its diversion rates, but the trend is the same.

“We’re moving in the right direction. Our numbers go along with the numbers the state is representing,” she said.


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