Recycling operations expanding

If you’ve been following the news lately you’ve probably been hearing about  challenges with recycling. What used to be an industry accepting more and more materials has contracted over the past year due to global disruptions – especially with plastics. Every community in the U.S. has been affected, including Santa Cruz.

The latest alarm bells went off with the release of a recent study that found levels of plastic pollution in the Monterey Bay similar to those found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The pollution is made up of trillions of tiny bits of debris, roughly the size of a grain of rice or smaller, floating from near the surface to thousands of feet underwater. The particles are being consumed by small ocean animals, the study found.

In the face of adversity, especially in small and coastal counties like ours, grass roots, community-based organizations like Grey Bears are the secret to recycling success. In fact, it’s important to remain optimistic about recycling because real change is afoot.

Grey Bears decades-long stewardship in reuse and recycling was rewarded last week with a new 4-year contract with the County to operate the drive-through recycling centers at the Buena Vista Landfill and Ben Lomond Transfer Station starting July 1, 2019. A separate agreement will be formalized July 1, 2019 for e-waste (TVs, monitors, computers, electronics) and EPS (Styrofoam) processing at Grey Bears’ mid-county Chanticleer recycling campus. Grey Bears will also continue to operate their Chanticleer recycling center.

Jerry and Michael sort donated books at Grey Bears for volunteers who will either list them on Amazon.com or sell for $1.50 each in their Chanticleer bookstore.

The biggest advantage of bringing your separated recycling materials to one of the three Grey Bears recycling centers is to ensure that 99% of that material will be recycled and not end up in the landfill – or worse.

“We are excited to expand our recycling operations to the San Lorenzo Valley,” says Tim Brattan, Grey Bears Executive Director. “We’re very grateful to the staff and Board of the Valley Women’s Club (VWC) for helping to make it a seamless transition.”

Three current VWC employees will be retained so the site will continue to run with the same care and environmental standards. Grey Bears will also accept some items VWC is not currently accepting, including white, colored and shredded paper.

Grey Bears Resource Recovery Manager, Tina Forest, says she appreciates the County Public Works Department’s and VWC’s help during the operational change at Ben Lomond.

“Both of our organizations and the County appreciate that serving the recycling needs of San Lorenzo Valley customers is paramount,” Forest says. “Our goal is to make access to recycling easier and more efficient for customers and to expand what we can accept.”

County residents trust Grey Bears to be the best steward of whatever they drop off at one of their centers. And for good reason. Diverting as much material as possible from all waste streams – including conserving and distributing 2.3 million pounds of food to seniors and those in need each year – has been Grey Bears overarching goal for 35 years. From refurbishing computers, electronics, clothing and housewares, to processing Styrofoam, separated colored bottles, and Repair Cafés, reusing and repurposing materials that would otherwise go to waste has been, and will continue to be a core value.

For questions and more information contact Tina Forest, 831-479-1055 ext 235, tina@greybears.org.