San Jose; The Good, The Bad and The On Going

At the last council meeting, the City of San Jose again decided to not follow industry or staff recommendations and chose to follow their big money donor and established a regressive 18 box cap starting in July. Industry association SMART suggests 1 box for every 3000 residents, which would mean 320 boxes for the City of San Jose. We are working to permit what we can under the old ordinance before this takes effect.

The Planning Department committed an err in stating that the 18 pending permits were individual permits instead of the 43 total boxes they represented, 32 of which were Campus California’s. The Department had an opportunity to correct itself but the Vice Mayor, who has the most to gain with this ordinance, insisted that the number remain only 18. We are 1 of 4 organizations that had permits pending, and can now only permit 5 of our boxes under the new ordinance.

Since 2008 we have diverted 2 million pounds of textiles and clothing from San Jose’s landfill. With a tipping fee of $44 per ton, that equals $44,000 in savings for the city. Capping the total boxes at 18 is going to seriously impede San Jose’s ability to keep working toward their 2022 Zero Waste goal. We have offered to Code Enforcement to do their Dumpster Days at no charge. Both Goodwill and Salvation Army backed out of paid contracts with the City to do this because “it was not cost effective.” We are hoping over the next year San Jose does not dump their entire Zero Waste goals and we can work together to set a cap closer to the industry standard.

Our PR director Julie Wedge, working in collation with an industry college, Julie Watt-Faqir, was able to stave off the ban and we hope to in the next year revisit this issue. A special thanks to Dereck Crutchfield from the City of Vallejo and San Jose African American Community Services Association who wrote letters of support to the Council.

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