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GOT SOME JUNK? LET'S MAKE A DEAL RECYCLING PROS MATCH HAVE-ITS WITH WANT-ITS.

Byline: Krystn Shrieve Staff Writer

VENTURA - Construction supplies from Antarctica will be used to build a new state university, tons of coffee grounds from a Camarillo cafe are being turned into compost, and hundreds of empty tennis ball cans have been transformed into study aids for second-graders.

Recycling is the name of the game.

Believing that one person's trash is another's treasure, the Ventura County Materials Exchange program - or VCMAX - connects those looking to get rid of odds and ends with others looking for sometimes off-the-wall items.

``This program is always so rewarding,'' said Lorraine Timmons, recycling specialist for VCMAX.

``One time we had a group of Boy Scouts that wanted a boat and they got it. Other times, it's farmers looking for fertilizer or a homeowner looking to fill a sinkhole with old concrete. There's another company that gives away old Christmas trees that people can plant in their yards.''

Launched in 1994, the county's materials exchange program was modeled after CalMAX, operated by the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Similar programs are operated throughout the nation.

Timmons said VCMAX targets businesses that regularly generate waste that could go somewhere other than the dump.

``We want to get those things diverted out of the landfill and to other companies that can use them,'' she said.

Hoping to give it all away, a vessel from Antarctica arrived in Port Hueneme recently full of surplus construction supplies, furniture and scientific equipment from the continent's research stations.

Raytheon Polar Services was able to donate the materials to a local foster care group, Habitat for Humanity and California State University, Channel Islands.

``It's rewarding to know that materials otherwise destined for the landfill will be utilized by others,'' said Steve Kupecz, a resale specialist for the Colorado-based company.

This week, Coffee Bean & Tea Co. in Camarillo partnered with Shoreline Organics, a composting company happy to receive 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of used coffee grounds.

Recently, Vaughn Masthoff, a tennis instructor in Santa Barbara, gave away hundreds of empty tennis ball canisters to Carolyn Alexander, a second-grade teacher at Tierra Linda Elementary School in Camarillo, who said they'll come in handy for art projects including constellation viewers, time capsules and even minigreenhouses.

``I was going to have the kids bring in Pringles cans, but this worked out even better,'' Alexander said. ``I used the opportunity to talk with the students about recycling, and it's better than having to eat Pringles for the rest of the year.''

The main vehicle for matching donors and recipients is a quarterly newsletter put out by the county. It lists not only goods that residents are trying to dispose of but things that others want to acquire.

For instance, Randy Marsh, who owns a construction company in Thousand Oaks, has surplus windows to give away.

GI Rubbish of Simi Valley is always trying to get rid of truckloads of broken concrete and horse manure.

And Coastal Multichrome in Oxnard, which uses glass granules to clean aerospace equipment, always has at least 500 pounds of glass beads - the size of a grain of salt - laying around.

``Some companies take it to mix in their concrete, some have used it on street signs to act as a reflector,'' production manager Russ Garcia said. ``Some people just want it for decoration. It's just our way of not filling up the dump.''

On the other hand, Partners in Progress, a nonprofit organization that cleans the county's beaches, is looking for five-gallon plastic buckets for the next beachcombing expedition. Habitat for Humanity needs a three-quarter-ton, flatbed truck. And a local homeless shelter is looking for furniture, bike racks, car seats, play equipment and toiletries for clients.

``Our storage unit is like our own personal Levitz,'' said Diana Vogelbaum, project manager of the RAIN Project Transitional Living Center in Camarillo, which recently got a call offering 75-gallon drums of shampoo.

``The clients are overjoyed because when they are ready to move, we basically take them shopping and they get to pick out the furniture they want.''

To list items in the newsletter, call (805) 654-2477. For more information about the program, visit www.rain.org/(TILDE)swmd/vcmax.html.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color in Conejo edition only) Jay Isais of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf digs into coffee grounds that will become organic compost. VCMAX connects firms like his with those that want leftovers and surplus items.

(2 -- color -- ran in Conejo edition only) At The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Camarillo, Recbecca Dahl pours ice-blended mochas, which contain recycled coffee grounds.

Tina Burch/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 26, 2000
Words:768
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