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ANTONIO TO SPEED UP RECYCLE GOAL MAYOR PROMISES HE'LL CURB 70% OF CITY'S TRASH BY 2015.

Byline: Kerry Cavanaugh Staff Writer

With the city committed to Sunshine Canyon Landfill for another five years, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged Thursday to end dependence on dumps and set a goal of recycling 70 percent of the city's refuse by 2015 - five years earlier than the current goal.

The mayor vowed to achieve the goal by recycling and studying trash-to- energy technologies, and in a memo to the Bureau of Sanitation, said city staffers and all Angelenos need to feel a sense of urgency about reducing trash.

``I have heard from Angelenos time and again they want a sustainable city, they want a greener city. They want us to be forward-thinking in our initiatives to clean up the environment. This is in keeping with that effort,'' Villaraigosa said.

He also directed the agency to convert the city's 535 trash trucks to low-polluting, liquefied natural gas.

By 2008, the city must cut a quarter of the trash going to Sunshine Canyon by recycling 1,000 tons of refuse each day. Sanitation Director Rita Robinson believes the city can divert 500 tons per day just by educating residents on what's recyclable.

``A lot of people are just confused and we understand that.''

Beginning immediately, residents can stick clean plastic bags and metal coat hangers in their blue, curbside recycling bins.

Next month, Robinson said, her department will add stickers to the bins explaining what's recyclable and what's not.

Then the city will launch ``Recycling for Dollars,'' a contest that will award residents up to $1,000 for using their blue recycling bins correctly.

The department will also expand voluntary recycling pickup to apartment buildings across the city and offer recycling to small businesses.

Villaraigosa outlined his recycling timeline Thursday morning during a news conference at the city's downtown trash-transfer station as garbage trucks rumbled by on their way to dump at Sunshine Canyon in Granada Hills.

For the past two years, Los Angeles leaders have debated whether they would renew the contract with Sunshine Canyon or send trash outside city limits.

The City Council finally voted last week to pay an extra $5 million per year to truck 600 tons of trash to landfills in the San Joaquin Valley and Riverside County.

Villaraigosa called the decision a good balance between city budget constraints and community desires to get out of Sunshine Canyon.

``Yes, we could have eliminated all our trash from Sunshine, but that was impossible given there was a lack of vendors willing to step forward and allow us to do that,'' he said. ``So ... we're going to put together a comprehensive effort to divert our trash over time.''

Pleased with the promise of more recycling, longtime Sunshine Canyon opponents were still skeptical of the mayor's plan.

``I hope the mayor's doing everything we've asked him to,'' said North Valley Coalition activist Kim Thompson. ``I really hope it's aggressive enough.''

Previous attempts to increase recycling have been slow.

Former Mayor Richard Riordan ordered the Bureau of Sanitation to expand recycling pickup to apartment dwellers and businesses in 1999 after he approved an expansion of Sunshine Canyon Landfill.

It took the city more than six years to launch a pilot project to see whether recycling at apartment buildings could work.

This time, however, the mayor, City Council and Bureau of Sanitation are all committed and enthusiastic about recycling, said Councilman Greig Smith.

Last year, Smith introduced RENEW LA, a 20-year plan to increase recycling and develop European-style trash-to-energy plants to handle the remaining waste.

The City Council and mayor endorsed his plan.

``Now we're getting action,'' Smith said Thursday. ``It's a monumental change in the way the city does business.''

Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 713-3746

kerry.cavanaugh(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 24, 2006
Words:617
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