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City of Poway – Commercial Recycling Program to Address Climate Change

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Commercial Recycling

A price differential between waste disposal and recycling services is an incentive to businesses to increase their rate of recycling, thus reducing waste material sent to the landfill and potential greenhouse gas emissions.

Community:Poway (San Diego County)

Population: 51,100


Poway’s solid waste ordinance requires that commercial recycling services be provided by its exclusive solid waste franchisee. A tiered fee structure provides financial incentives to businesses to recycle rather than dispose waste.

Program Highlights

  • City ordinance requires that weekly waste and recycling services be provided to businesses.
  • A significant price differential between solid waste and recycling services acts as an incentive for businesses to recycle.
  • City and hauler work to educate businesses about the importance of recycling.

Lessons Learned

  • A higher cost differential between waste disposal and recycling services will encourage increased recycling by businesses.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Commercial recycling has been available in Poway since 1995, but was not mandatory until a few years later when the city adopted an ordinance requiring its exclusive franchised solid waste hauler to provide recycling services to businesses. The ordinance requires businesses to use the recycling services.

Poway recently restructured its utility fees, which has resulted in a considerably steeper price differential between waste and recycling services. Because the fees are tiered according to volume of waste disposal, businesses have a financial incentive to take advantage of lower cost recycling services and recycle more.

For example, weekly service for a three-yard bin is $126.14 for waste disposal, but only $37.88 for a same size recycling bin. A new fee structure was also developed for multi-family housing to encourage greater recycling.

Education the Key

Poway relies primarily on the tiered fee structure and on education of businesses to encourage business recycling. If a business appears to need coaching to improve its recycling, it is provided with information about how to make improvements to its recycling efforts. The hauler is required to initiate education outreach with businesses and to conduct waste audits as necessary or as requested by businesses.

Enforcement and Compliance

Businesses are required to contract with the hauler for weekly recycling services. If a business declines, it must demonstrate that it is either self-hauling, using another hauler for recyclables or demonstrate proof that its recyclables are being properly transported to a recycling facility.

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Integrated Waste Management Board.



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