Isla Vista may be bit less trashy, but it’s still got a ways to go.
Santa Barbara County currently recycles 59 percent of its solid waste – well above the goal of 50 percent set by the Board of Supervisors – according to the most recent annual report from 2000. However, the report also states that the rate of recycling in Isla Vista is still significantly lower than in the rest of the county.
Derek Carlson, Marborg Industries’ business manager, said the percentage of recycling in I.V. rose this past year from approximately 40 percent to 50 percent. This rise occurred at the same time that Marborg instituted commingled recycling – the dumping of all recyclable materials into the same container.
Two major factors hinder a further increase in the rate of recycling, Carlson said. First, landowners are reluctant to request and pay for the extra bins. The basic trash service provides two 95 gallon containers for $32.50 a month and an extra $10 a month to receive the recycling service of one 95 gallon container.
Carlson said contamination from nonrecyclable material within the bins is the second problem. Without the help of county funding, the time and money needed to sort out the trash from the recycling weighs too heavily on Marborg. Certain areas in I.V. are not offered the recycling service because they cannot keep trash out of the recycling bins.
Island View Properties, which owns and manages 18 buildings in I.V., does not provide recycling. Doris Dickery, Island View’s bookkeeper, said a few people had requested the service in past years but were not willing to pay the extra fee. Dickery said tenants should be responsible for recycling their trash if they are inclined to do so.
“We think it’s best if [the tenants] just take care of it on their own,” Dickery said, referring to Marborg’s requirement to receive permission from the landowners for recycling service.
Charles Eckert, the property manager for Eckert Investment, which owns and manages four apartment buildings in I.V., said his business has endured two failed attempts at providing free recycling for his tenants. Eckert said the first time he ordered the service from Marborg, the bin provided was too small and much of the recyclable material was blown out by the wind.
After many requests from the tenants following elimination of the service, Eckert decided to try again. Trash and other nonreusable material contaminated the recycling bins too often and the program was terminated a second time.
“We really wanted to provide recycling for our buildings, and we didn’t give up the first time,” Eckert said. “People weren’t participating properly.”
Mark Chaconas, assistant to 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, said the volunteer work over the past several years is largely responsible for the county’s 59 percent recycling rate. Besides numerous volunteer groups, such as the California Public Interest Research Group and UCSB’s Associated Students, many individuals and families rely on recycling for their income.
Melissa Henry, a UCSB graduate, produced a documentary entitled “Work Ethics,” which follows an average day in the life of one such independent recycler. The anonymous interviewee said he would begin recycling around three or four in the morning, take a short break around eight, and continue until he finished his rounds at night. Despite the long hours, he said he felt rewarded at the end of each day.
“The legendary reputation of this student party town proved to be true,” the recycler said. “And what had been characterized as their wasteful ways became my business.”
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will meet on Oct. 22 with the county’s Solid Waste Dept. to discuss plans for going beyond the county’s current recycling rate.