With a population of over 1 million, San Jose is the second largest city in the Bay Area.
Every day, mountains of trash are stuffed into in landfills like Guadalupe Mines, Kirby Canyon and Newby Island. According to city officials, 1,000 tons of polypropylene (#5) plastic waste is generated by homes and businesses in San Jose each year.
This Tuesday, Councilman Johnny Khamis will introduce a new recycling program that could reduce plastic waste in San Jose by up to 88%. Of course, the best thing we can do is avoid buying new plastics whenever possible. But what about the plastic we already have? We need to ensure it does not go to landfill. As necessary as efficient recycling facilities are to our country, we cannot use the convenience of recycling as an excuse to buy plastic bottles or other single-use items. We still need to embrace our zero waste/sustainable habits to really effect change.
If approved, this public-private recycling facility would take several years to construct. Right now, it is set to be built proximal to the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility.
So yes, I think this facility could be helpful in reducing plastic waste as long as we treat it as a last resort before landfill. Remember, recycling still requires energy, clean water, and emits greenhouse gasses even with modern carbon capture installations.
The best solution to plastic pollution is prevention. Go package-free whenever possible, and if that fails, at least try to go plastic-free. If you in the San Jose area, package-free products are available in multiple locations, from Sprouts, to Whole Foods, to The Source Zero:
The Source Zero, a zero waste and refill shop in San Jose
There is even a zero waste/refill delivery service called Fillgood.co that carries a wide range of household and personal care products. They deliver around the Bay Area and even have a few pick up locations.
For a full list of Zero Waste/Bulk/Refill stores in California, check out our list. For the rest of the United States, we have a growing list located here.
“More plastic, more problems”
– Notorious PVC
Sources: SanJoseCA.gov, Chris Nguyen/ABC7News