A City Council committee considering City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s mandatory recycling proposal asked for more information today, deferring a decision on the proposed ordinance.

The ordinance would require all city homeowners who receive free city trash service to participate in curbside recycling. (Participation is currently voluntary.) The law would also require office and apartment complex owners to provide recycling pickup to their tenants.

San Diego’s recycling policy lags behind most others in the region. While the city provides free trash and recycling services to residents of single-family homes, it doesn’t offer recycling pickup to more than 100,000 units in apartment complexes, condos and multifamily dwellings.

Most cities in the region adopted mandatory ordinances more than 15 years ago. City officials estimate that San Diego apartment residents and office dwellers without recycling today throw away an estimated 100,000 tons of recyclables annually.

Council members showed some support for the ordinance, though the Mayor’s Office does not support it because of its potential costs, said Jeff Gattas, a mayoral aide.

Many details about Aguirre’s proposal remain unknown. The city does not know how much the ordinance would cost business and apartment owners. The city also has not estimated the cost of enforcing the regulation, though Aguirre volunteered his office for enforcement duties.

Several business groups, waste haulers and property managers said they supported mandatory recycling, but wanted more information about how the ordinance would be implemented.

Councilman Ben Hueso said he supported the ordinance’s intention. “We just have to work out the details,” he said.

Councilwoman Donna Frye said she had heard the same reasons for delay put forth before. It needs to be studied and pushed forward now, she said.

“We need to do this,” she said. “We’ve been waiting awhile.”

The council committee asked the Mayor’s Office to investigate the questions raised and report back. The committee will discuss the issue again June 20.


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