Statement: “We find that about two-thirds of the businesses and multifamily complexes are doing a great job, but that means that there’s still about a third that don’t have recycling,” Ken Prue, the city’s recycling program manager, said on KPBS Nov. 17.
Analysis: Nearly three years ago, the city created mandatory recycling rules for residents and business owners — use the blue bins or face a maximum $1,000 fine.
To help enforce the rules, the city requires trash haulers to survey and report which businesses and residential complexes are not recycling each year. Then the city takes that list and decides whether to issue warnings or fines.
Prue’s statement on KPBS accurately referenced how many places the trash haulers reported violating the law this year. Out of 6,126 businesses and multifamily complexes surveyed in June, they found 1,927 didn’t recycle — a 31 percent noncompliance rate.
That’s a notable marker for the city since this summer’s survey was the first to include all businesses and residential properties. Previous surveys excluded some properties since they weren’t yet required to recycle as part of a gradual staging process.
This year’s mass of warning letters will be sent to the noncompliant companies within the next two to four weeks, Prue said. While the city could issue fines, he emphasized that the city would first try to assist the companies and bring them into compliance. The business owners could, for example, apply for financial aid or an exemption to the law.
And so far, Prue added, fines have been rare. The city has issued just three since the law became effective. “What we’re actually finding is that most people, if we visit them and remind them about the ordinance, they generally comply,” he said.
Supporters of the new rules argue that more recycling will extend the life of the Miramar Landfill and help the city continue meeting a state law that requires it to divert at least half of its waste away from landfills. Violating the state law could mean a $10,000 fine per day.
To measure its effect, the city surveyed the total volume of trash and recyclables collected during the same week in June over three years. Since 2008, the city found the volume of trash decreased by 10 percent while recyclables increased by 76 percent.
Because Prue’s estimate of those noncompliant companies accurately reflects the figures reported by trash haulers, we’ve called his statement true.
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