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June 2010

Making a Difference! Dumpster Diving Findings

For our follow-up waste characterization assessment, we got back into our hazmat suits for round two at the Materials Recycling Facility where we sampled and sorted through 525 lbs. of recyclables and 1,126 lbs. of trash. The contents were analyzed from the same Del Rosa Estates homes we sampled for our baseline measurement back at the start of February.

In order to compare “before” and “after” results, we wanted to measure our follow-up numbers against our baseline numbers to see if there were any substantial changes in both recycling and reducing the overall contamination rate (trash, household hazardous waste and other non-acceptable blue bin items).

Our outreach highlighting recyclables and non-acceptable blue bin items of the month sparked some tangible, successful results! In the follow-up, we found that there was a 54% decrease in blue bin contamination. This time around, 21% of recycling bin contents were contaminants, while 79% of recycling bin contents were recyclables, cutting our contamination percentage by more than half compared to our baseline measurement. Historically, the average contamination rate in the City of San Bernardino is about 40%. Our baseline assessment affirmed this, as we discovered a 46% contamination rate. Dropping that rate through a tailored outreach plan coupled with amazing community energy, down to 21% is quite an achievement.

Check out the table below that shows the amount of recyclables and contamination we observed in the recycling bin at the beginning and end of the project.

This 54% contamination reduction observed from the wrap-up assessment is meaningful because it shows us that together, we made a real difference! Del Rosa Estates, the pilot area, has been a phenomenal participant showing that they truly care about recycling right.
We want to give a special thanks to our terrific partners who’ve made this Curbside Recycling Pilot Program successful and possible: The City of San Bernardino and Del Rosa Estates Neighborhood Action Group (DRNAG)! At the end of the day, most importantly, we needed the participation of the residents – so great job Del Rosa Estates for kicking bad habits to the curb and recycling right.

Check out our photo stream to see the rest of the pictures from our assessments!