by David Goldstein, PWA, IWMD

Much of the public sector’s involvement in protecting the environment is related to mandates, regulations and penalties. Agencies, with direction from voter initiatives or elected representatives, quantify and limit air emissions, water discharge or other pollution, and take enforcement actions to punish people or companies exceeding these limits. This month, however, a different approach, relying on incentives, was administered by local agencies.

$2 million loan to make recycled products

Placing recyclables into curbside carts or commercial recycling bins is only the first step in the recycling “loop.” Without manufacturers to turn discarded material into new products, collection efforts would amount to nothing more than well-sorted landfills.

Some manufacturers use recycled material because of mandates. For example, all newspapers in California (including the Ventura County Reporter) must contain recycled fibers.

For the many manufacturing industries not required to use recycled content, however, incentives provide motivation. One such incentive program is the Ventura County Recycling Market Development Zone (RMDZ), administered locally by the Ventura County Public Works Agency.

Recently, RMDZ presented a $2 million check to Oxnard-based PinnPack Packaging. This long-term (10-year), low-interest (4 percent fixed rate) loan of state funds will help the company modernize its factory, enabling them to purchase 3,000 more tons of recycled plastic per year, and preserving the jobs of 168 local employees. The recycled plastic comes to PinnPack in the form of sanitized pellets from CarbonLITE, a California company processing more than 2 billion plastic bottles annually.

Program payments make carpet recycling possible

Local sorting centers cannot recycle everything. Some items are too expensive to handle and transport. Even after transportation, items such as carpet are so expensive to recycle, that factories using the material to make new products actually charge, rather than pay, to accept the recyclables.

To overcome this barrier, purchasers of new carpet in California pay a surcharge for carpet recycling. The RMDZ worked with Oxnard’s Del Norte Recycling Center to obtain incentive payments from this funding source, administered by the Carpet America Recycling Effort (CARE). Starting last week, the station began accepting rolled carpet from residents without any charge, as long as the loads of carpet contain no trash.

Incentives for plug-in cars extend to used cars

Incentives available to individuals for purchase of new electric cars are well-known and promoted by auto dealerships. A new incentive program available from Southern California Edison, however, also provides a payment of $450 to owners of used plug-in cars.

To obtain this new SCE incentive, you must be the first, second or third owner, and you must provide a scan of your car registration and your SCE customer number (from your bill).
Some used electric vehicles are inexpensive, so this incentive may help people buy the used electric vehicle they always wanted for environmental reasons but could not afford for economic reasons.

For more information: