Ten citizens who attended the PRT-sponsored community forum on recycling in January convened on Feb. 15 at the Patagonia Library as a task force to begin work on fixing Patagonia’s failing recycling program. 

Chaired by Bob Brandt, the task force began by viewing a video that described how recyclable materials are normally processed in a fully functional recycling program.

The group’s main purpose is to bring about changes to recycling in Patagonia so that the items placed in the recycling containers do not wind up in the landfill. However, the possibility was brought up of the group’s taking on a broader environmental mission, a decision that will be made at a future meeting.

While the discussion covered a wide range of issues and ideas, it focused on how to change Patagonia’s open and unsupervised recycling facility that results in unacceptable levels of trash being mixed in with recyclable materials, rendering the load unmarketable. Suggestions included restricting access to the recycling trailers by fencing the area, limiting the hours of operation and providing human supervision to make certain that items are properly sorted, and that trash isn’t allowed to be tossed into the containers.

Consideration was also given to relocating the facility to the town chipper operation opposite the school grounds. 

Joel Block, who heads up the Tubac-based volunteer group Santa Cruz Environmental Stewards (SCES), reported on the group’s activities and the research they had done on what some nearby communities are doing with recycling. He suggested that getting citizens to write letters to county and town officials would help build interest and support for action with those officials.

The task force will try to arrange a meeting with town and county officials to clarify what plans the county has made for improving recycling and what role the town can play in helping the recycling effort. 

Brandt said he would ask town and county representatives to meet with task force representatives before the group’s next meeting which was set for March 14.