By Bob Brandt

Just as the PRT is about to launch efforts to marshal citizen participation in support of reversing the current sad situation in which only a tiny percentage of recyclable waste actually gets recycled, we have learned, largely through a group of activists in Tubac, the Santa Cruz Environmental Stewards, that Santa Cruz County officials are already weighing changes in the county’s waste processing system that may result in substantial improvements in the current poor level of recycling success.

Dr. Joel Block, a retired physician from Rio Rico, is leading a dedicated and energetic group of citizens in that community focused on the same objective we have in mind here in Patagonia: achieving a robust recycling program for Santa Cruz County.

Brad Sander and I attended the December 17 meeting of Santa Cruz Environmental Stewards in Tubac. Also in attendance was Quentin Lewton, of Sonoita, who had previously established contact with the Tubac group. We came away with important insights into the county’s present operations, awareness of actions now being contemplated by the county to turn things around, and a better understanding of the larger universe of resource recovery in general and recycling in particular.

We learned that one of the most important, and most encouraging, steps the county is contemplating is to provide human oversight of the recycling stations in Tubac and Sonoita. This will help reduce the amount of contamination in the sorting bins to the point where the recyclable items will be declared to be acceptable by materials recovery facilities (MRFs) where the products are sorted and bundled for delivery to buyers and other end users. Patagonia’s recycling setup, totally accessible by anyone at any time, will present quite a challenge in terms of regulating what goes into the sorting bins.

Dr. Block and perhaps others from his group are interested in attending Patagonia’s meetings and attendant activities to coordinate our efforts and to improve our efforts to succeed at reaching our mutual goals.

The Patagonia forum on this topic will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 25 in the Patagonia Library’s Reading Room. Please plan on attending and offering your ideas and energy to meeting this challenge.