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Yes, Piedmont Does Recycle (Don't Believe Everything You Read)

Recent news reports of Piedmont's "lowly" diversion rate are incorrect, say city and Richmond Sanitary staff

"Berkeley meets recycling goals, beats Piedmont" reads the headline on a March 29, 2012 article on the Berkeleyside news website.

The article goes on to say, "Albany was the top scorer in the county with an 83% diversion rate in 2010, and Berkeley was also beaten by Emeryville and Union City which both achieved 77%. Piedmont came in bottom with a lowly 59%, while Oakland scores a more respectable 65%."

The article is based on a report issued by StopWaste.org in mid-February which shows diversion rates – how much discarded material is recycled in some fashion, rather than being buried in a landfill – for Alameda County cities and unincorporated areas. You can see the StopWaste report here.

The report's most recent figures, for 2010, show Piedmont with with a diversion rate of 59 percent, the lowest in the county. But that figure is just plain wrong, say City of Piedmont and Richmond Sanitary Service staff members.

The correct 2010 figure for Piedmont is a more respectable 67.55 percent, according to Janna Coverston, contracts administrator for Richmond Sanitary, which provides Piedmont's garbage collection and recycling services.

That puts Piedmont much closer to the countywide average of 70 percent, although still well below the county's top recycling community (Albany, at 83 percent) and fourth-ranked Berkeley (76 percent).

Coverston said she's sure of the 67.55 percent figure because Piedmont's recyclables are picked up by a special vehicle "so there's no chance of error."

No one seems quite sure how the error occurred, but Richmond Sanitary is working to get the correct figures to StopWaste.org and CalRecycle, the state agency that oversees recycling.

Kevin Jackson of the city's planning staff, who oversees Piedmont's recycling program, said that Richmond Sanitary's contract with the city is coming up for renewal soon. He said he hopes to see corrected figures in place by that time.

"We've been trying to get the figures corrected," he said.

Jackson said the city routinely checks the diversion rate and questions it if figures seem "off." In one instance several years ago, he said, incorrect figures were traced to the excavation of large underground tanks at Mountain View Cemetery on Oakland's Piedmont Avenue. The hauler who transported the tanks for disposal reported them as coming from Piedmont, Jackson said.

StopWaste.Org is the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board operating as one public agency.

Richmond Sanitary is a subsidiary of Republic Services, Inc., the second largest full-service waste management firm in the U.S.

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garrett Keating April 02, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Yes, Piedmont does recycle (and better than Berkeley) and has always been among the top 5 cities with the highest diversion rates: http://www.stopwaste.org/docs/diversion-rates-by-jurisdiction.pdf In 2009, Piedmont's diversion rate was 84%, the highest ever recorded in Alameda County so the 2010 rate is probably a reporting error. It is alarming that Republic is claiming 67.55% as the correct rate for 2010. That is a substantial drop in Piedmont's past diversion rates and below the county goal of 70% and needs to be confirmed.
Rick Schiller April 02, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I suspect the reporting is inaccurate and Piedmont does have a high recycle rate. The current program is a good one and well suits many families, but at a high cost as the current rate is double the previous contract. A two tiered program that will also serve homeowners living alone and couples should be looked at. There is considerable financial waste being paid by those who do not fully utilize our current expensive waste service.

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