Berkeley considers cutting recycling non-profit

The city that adopted the first curbside recycling program in the country is thinking about scrapping the non-profit that started it all due to an $11 million deficit.
March 8, 2011 11:35:36 PM PST
The city that adopted the first curbside recycling program in the country is thinking about scrapping the non-profit that started it all due to an $11 million deficit.

When the ecology center started the nation's first curbside recycling pickup program, 40 years ago, it was a radical idea. Now, the Berkeley City Council is proposing the idea of running the program itself to save money.

"I challenge the city to find a city that contracted with a garbage company who did not see costs rise after those changes were made," Karen Pickett said.

At an energetic special meeting, a contracted consultant told the council the city could save $1.5 million by ending its $3 million a year contract with The Ecology Center.

"We're recommending they reduce the crews from two people to one person to increase efficiency," consultant Joe Sloan said.

City Council Member Max Anderson actually worked as a sanitation worker in Philadelphia. He says it's important to have a second person in case there's an accident or injury.

"On the other hand, you got to go up and down the street twice and that contributes to greenhouse gases emissions," he said.

"The report before us that the city has paid for is inaccurate," Council Member Darryl Moore said.

It doesn't consider the fact that the income from selling cardboard has gone up since 2008 from $10 to $200 dollars a ton, and The Ecology Center anticipates earning a million dollars more than it did last year.

"Paper is scary because of the electronic age and the need. That's driving up the price," Sara mackusic from The Ecology Center

The one thing that council members and residents agreed on is that the $85,000 report is flawed, and there needs to be more factual input. The public will have another chance to chime in at a meeting on March 22.


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