On Jan 8, 2020 Santa Cruz County officials John Hayes, manager for solid waste / flood control and Jesus Valdez, Director of Public Works met with Santa Cruz Environmental Stewards (SCES), a group of volunteers who have been advocating for increased recycling since the county almost completely ceased recycling in 2019. 

The proposal for recycling in the county is currently in Phase One. The county is preparing the sites at the Rio Rico landfill and the Tubac transfer station, is working to find buyers for the recyclable items, is educating the public and is increasing its presence on social media. 

The county presented two site plans for the Tubac transfer station recycling area and the Rio Rico landfill recycling area. In both plans they would place seven bins under a covered area to accept plastics 1 and 2, other plastics (3-7), cardboard, mixed paper, glass, aluminum cans, and tin. 

The approximate cost to develop the two sites would be between $40,000-$60,000. The cost for employees to work on these sites every day would be approximately $25,000 for six months. 

The concern about the Patagonia recycling site is contamination because the current site is not secure. County officials do not believe that residents are at fault, but it is more likely that it is used as a dumping site for garbage by people traveling through the area.

Patagonia Recycling Forum 

Approximately 50 people attended a PRT-sponsored public forum on Jan. 25 to discuss the state of recycling in Santa Cruz County, facilitated by PRT board member Bob Brandt. 

Santa Cruz County Public Works Director Jesus Valdez spoke at the forum and answered questions from the audience. He explained why most recyclables are going into the landfill. Until a little over a year ago a company was coming to pick up the recyclables from all the receptacles in the county. When the firm abruptly stopped collections, the county did not have the operational power to pick up and transport the recyclables to Tucson. For now, the county is still recycling aluminum, tires, cardboard and some glass. 

Valdez said that the county wants a better system for collection of recyclables. They are learning more about what happens once recyclables are picked up and before the end of the fiscal year want to create a list of recyclables that have buyers in the market. Once they set up sites for collection in Tubac and Rio Rico they will extend it to other parts of the county, including Sonoita and Patagonia. 

Joel Block, Tom Gelvans and Homero Lopez, representing the Santa Cruz Environmental Stewards, shared the work being doing by their group of community activists based in Tubac. They have visited possibly the most sophisticated recycling program in the state, the Southern Sedona Recycling Program, and have toured the Sierra Vista compost facility. They encouraged people from Patagonia to attend their bi-monthly meetings at the Tubac Community Center the first and third Tuesday of the month at 5p.m. 

The meeting concluded with a group of people committing to form a Patagonia task force for recycling. Anyone interested in joining this task force can email prtasted@gmail.com or leave a message at (740) 2069594.