At its July 25 meeting, the Glendale City Council heard updates on the city’s progress on public outreach and education on organics and recycling programs.
Following the implementation of Senate Bill 1383, which aims to reduce organic waste statewide, the city has been working to supply residents and businesses with the appropriate waste disposal materials and educate them on proper disposal practices.
Stephen Groner from SGA Marketing emphasized the importance of “community-based social marketing” during public outreach efforts.
“We’re not just trying to raise awareness, but we’re actually trying to change people’s behavior,” he said.
Providing Glendale with the proper waste materials is multifaceted with residential and commercial considerations.
Enrique Vasquez, who works with Southland Disposal, one of four haulers helping the city distribute waste containers, spoke to the News-Press about the implementation efforts for SB 1383.
“The first deadline was Jan. 1 for all the California cities to have an organics collection program,” he said. “It’s a big, big undertaking.” In the past two years, the company has distributed containers to businesses and multifamily units of five or more, he explained.
He went on to describe the standardized three container system: black or gray for trash, green for organics and blue for recycling. In addition to distributing these materials, Southland Disposal also collects the contents from bins around the city. The organics collected are either turned into compost or are used to generate renewable energy, Vasquez said.
On the commercial side of things, Vasquez said that distribution is completed and the focus is now on education.
There is still work to be done for residential distribution.
Dan Hardgrove, assistant director of public works, reported to the Council that phase one for residential distribution is complete, meaning every single-family residential household in La Crescenta has received new containers. Phase two will provide these materials to the area from Riverside Rancho up to Brand Park.
Groner identified focus areas for outreach to ensure the public is aware of proper recycling and organics practices. This includes informational videos, fliers, newsletters, mailers, how-to signage, notices, webinars and more. Additionally, the city has taken advantage of paid advertising with Google, Nextdoor, Meta, Facebook and Instagram. This advertising has resulted in 4.9 million impressions and 68,000 clicks.
SGA Marketing has also completed nearly 1,500 business site visits to go over best practices and reached almost 7,000 students through school assemblies and classroom presentations. Groner emphasized the importance of getting children involved in the process.
“We’re doing this for the next generation because [climate change] is something we created and hopefully we can do something to help them out,” he said.
As for the future, SGA Marketing plans to come out with Recycle Coach App — which will be a searchable database of what’s recyclable — evaluate resident awareness and conduct presentations to various councils, HOAs and community groups.
In addition to mandating an organics collection program, SB 1383 also requires cities to have food rescue programs. Natalie Lessa, cofounder of ReCREATE Waste Collaboration, has been working with the city “to assist in developing an edible food recovery program and expand the services of food to the insecure individuals in the community.”
She explained that Tier One edible food generators — wholesale food vendors, food service providers, food distributors, and grocery stores and supermarkets of a certain size — were required to have food donation programs by January of last year, which the city successfully accomplished. By January 2024, Tier Two edible food generators — hotels, large restaurants, health facilities, large venues and event spaces, local education agencies and state agency cafeterias — will have to do the same.
Food recovery organizations take the food collected by EFGs to provide food to insecure individuals, Lessa said. Glendale has seven FROs: Ascencia, YMCA of Glendale and Pasadena, The Salvation Army, International Families Association, Catholic Charities of L.A., Armenian Relief Society of Western USA and Glendale Community College. Together these organizations recovered more than 2 million pounds of edible food.
“That is food that is directly being diverted from the landfill and redistributed for human consumption,” Lessa said.
Vasquez noted that the most important thing for people to do is pay attention to what materials they are putting in each waste container.
“It’s really important to familiarize yourself with what goes where,” he said. “The biggest problem we have is contamination, and by contamination, we mean putting the wrong material in the wrong container. It’s become more important than ever.” He added that even when items claim to be recyclable, that is oftentimes not the case and it’s always important to double check.
“One of the phrases that’s often used is ‘when in doubt, throw it out.’ If you really can’t tell, throw it in the black container. Don’t contaminate the good stuff if you don’t know,” Vasquez said.
To find out more about which items should be placed in which disposal containers, visit southlanddisposal.com/Glendale.
First published in the August 5 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.