Santa Monica Residents Recycle

Santa Monica residents lined up in their cars full of sensitive documents and recyclable electronics at the City Yards on 2500 Michigan Ave. for the monthly recycling diversion program offered by the city this past Saturday. The document shredding and electronics recycling, held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., was free to all Santa Monica residents and attracted large crowd.

"You should have seen the line of cars before we opened. It was all the way out to Cloverfield Boulevard," said Santa Monica Resource Recovery and Recycling Operations Manager Kim Braun.

According to Braun, the major environmental benefits that come from this program include less trash in landfills, reduced carbon emissions, reduced greenhouse gases, and a multitude of products coming back as paper.

This is the second time this specific program has been offered, with the first being in November of 2010. "We had such an overwhelming call for this to continue on that we decided to try again. We've at least quadrupled our attendance this time around for the paper shred and electronics recycling," said Braun.

Braun says the reason why residents come to the paper shred instead of doing it at home is because it is more convenient. While many residents do have paper shredders, it's of little help when you want to shred a mass amount of documents. The center has the ability to mass shred documents in a matter of minutes.

"This event gives residents a sense a security. A lot of people do not own shredders and they want to make sure important information isn't used against them," said Braun. She also says it gives them the feeling that they're doing something good for the environment.

As far as the electronic recyclables go, the recycling center works with the Alianza Electronic Recycling and Recovery. According to Braun, Alianza takes the materials inside the electronics such as CRT tubes, copper wiring, metal chips, and electrodes. For instance, they could take four different wires out of an electronic device, including the chips and reuse these parts. They then sort them out and send them off to different markets for remanufacture; that way nothing is trashed or ends up in a landfill.

Alianza does make money off of the electronic recyclables, with some of it going back to the city. According to Braun, for the previous fiscal year the city received $13,750 in total revenue from the electronics. So far for the 2011 fiscal year, the city has received $12,200 from the electronics in what is an increase in the popularity of the electronics-recycling program.

Residents can conceivably sell the recyclable electronics themselves and receive the money, but it is more beneficial to the city to recycle it through the recycling center. The city uses the money they get to help pay back for some of the diversion programs.

"Believe me, the money we receive on these materials is not nearly what it costs to be able to run programs such as this," said Braun.

The whole idea of going green is not only geared towards major businesses but also colleges such as Santa Monica College.  SMC's sustainable works program opens doors for students who want environmental careers.

One of the Santa Monica city employees at the event, Myesha Jones, is also taking a class at the Bundy campus.  Jones shared that these classes are funded by the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA).  The CRRA was given a grant from the federal government to do required job training in sustainability.

According to Jones, this started with the city about three years ago.  "My classes are very beneficial. I am covering a lot of material, for someone who has very little experience in recycling I am learning a lot," said Jones.

The Resource Recovery and Recycling Division is also looking for volunteers to help with a separate project that they simply do not have enough manpower for.  It involves Assembly Bill 32, passed by the state, and it requires any business in the state of California that generates more than four cubic yards of trash a week to put a recycling program in place by July 2012.

"We're taking one-on-one surveys with owners or managers of local businesses to determine if they currently have a recycling program in place," said Braun. She adds, "If they don't know what types of materials are generated, we can come back with some data to see what types of programs we can establish for their businesses."

The project requires an eight question questionnaire to be administered to over 1,500 local businesses. This is where the help would be needed. Braun says that they could use volunteers to come in once or twice a week to help with the questionnaires.

The next free document shredding and electronics recycling is tentatively scheduled for July of this year. The recycling center holds monthly diversion programs such as a compost giveaway coming in April.

For more information on upcoming events, recycling, and how to volunteer visit