As California increases its waste diversion quota, La Verne’s business and residential community are emphasizing recycling.
Passed in 2012, Assembly Bill 341 called for California to raise its waste diversion rate to 75 percent by the year 2020, a 25 percent increase from the past state quota established by AB 939 in 1989.
One way to help meet that new goal is to encourage small businesses and local residents to recycle more.
This state-wide push for waste management involves cities actively engaging with residents and businesses about recycling habits, an area to which La Verne are no strangers.
“The City of La Verne has made significant efforts toward recycling and sustainability programs,” read a press release issued by the city last year after AB341 passed.
“Not only has the City of La Verne met the legislative mandate of AB 939, but it has continually surpassed it.”
Before AB 939 went into effect, La Verne was one of the first communities in the San Gabriel Valley to set up a recycling program, said Assistant to the City Manager Jeannette Vagnozzi.
Vagnozzi started with the city as an intern in 1991 and was put in charge of meeting AB 939’s waste diversion goals, a task that put her in touch with the community’s recycling habits.
“Everyone wants to preserve the aesthetics of their community,” Vagnozzi said.
“When we share about these important environmental factors, we get a good response.”
The issue is making recycling as easy as possible for local businesses, Vagnozzi said.
“If you’re a manufacturer or part of our industrial complexes, you’re looking at recycling as part of your business portfolio,” Vagnozzi said.
“Businesses recycle if it makes good business sense to them. If it doesn’t it’s going to be hard unless they have a commitment to environmental issues.”
Environmental advocates, like Professor of Biology Jay Jones, felt that such rapidly changing global conditions have already become costly for more than just the La Verne community, but the entire planet.
“We are modifying our environment in major ways, and we are now beginning to pay the price for that,” Jones said.
“All of the things that we do that enhance our ecological footprint is essentially voting for all the things we don’t want to see: Climate change, floods, droughts, enhanced storms, sea level rise, and so forth,” Jones said.
Depletion of key resources also results in a vote for war, Jones said, pointing out that some nations will go to war to ensure access to certain resources.
Properly recycling presents a key way of sustaining the environment, according to senior biology major Eduardo Fernandez, president of Students Engaged in Environmental Discussion and Service, or SEEDS. But recycling, although a step in the right direction, isn’t enough to curb a rapidly changing environment.
“I don’t think people are currently aware if they’re doing it right or wrong,” Fernandez said about recycling.
Recycling involves more than filtering out assorted plastic bottles, Fernandez said.
If a recyclable item has any sort of damage, it is no longer recyclable, and certain plastics are exempt from recycling altogether.
Cities like La Verne continue to engage residents in environmentally conscious programs, including curb-side recycling and mulching green waste for landscaping purposes, Vagnozzi said.
Still, even with the new quota of a 75 percent diversion rate, citizens have a ways to go, Fernandez said.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of advocacy,” he said. “But it’s not impossible.”
Des Delgadillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.