Petaluma’s City Council prepares to adopt a “Zero Waste” resolution that will ask residents here to cut their landfill deposits by more than 90% by reducing, reusing and recycling more than we ever have before. Currently, Petalumans are recycling just 38% of what they leave at the curb for pick-up by the city’s waste hauler, Recology, according Celia Furber, the company’s Waste Zero Manager. That means that more than 60% of what is left at the curb heads to the landfill near Novato, which emits a considerable amount of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that’s roughly 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Clearly, the Petaluma community has an opportunity to make a positive change. By redirecting organic waste to compost, according to Patrick Carter, management analyst with the City of Petaluma, Petalumans can significantly reduce landfill methane emissions. It can be done by residents placing any and all food scraps, including bones, meat, dairy, egg shells, produce, baked goods, coffee grounds, together with garden and lawn trimmings, coffee filters, tea bags, untreated wood and soiled paper products like facial tissues, paper plates, paper towels and napkins, pizza boxes and wooden utensils, into the green bins provided by Recology.

Not only will increased use of the green bins directly reduce the methane gas emissions at the local landfill, the composting of their contents creates a soil enhancer that benefits local agricultural and gardening endeavors, says Furber, who added that compost actually soaks up greenhouse gases by sequestering carbon in the soil.

Regarding the recycling of plastic containers like jugs, cups, and bottles, as well as other recyclable materials including metal cans and glass bottles and jars, Farber encourages residents to make sure the items are “clean and dry” since lingering food materials make them impossible to market to overseas recyclers who have become increasingly resistant to accepting contaminated materials.

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