What makes STR recycling unique?
South Tahoe Refuse and Recycling boasts an impressive recycling recovery. Our Material Recovery Facility recycling works for both residents and visitors alike.
One truck picks up solid waste, Blue Bag recyclables and yard waste curbside.
These materials are unloaded inside our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
- Larger recyclables, like wood, yard waste and steel, are removed for further recycling.
- Mixed materials are loaded onto a sorting line.
- Recyclables are sorted by type: cardboard, newspaper, other papers, plastics, glass, tin and aluminum.
- Materials are baled and shipped nationwide to recycling markets.
STR also participates in composting and revegetation programs using our renewable resources locally.
Residual waste is compacted and trucked to the landfill daily.
Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
During the early 1990s, the South Lake Tahoe Solid Waste Joint Powers Agency (JPA), comprised of elected representatives from Douglas and El Dorado Counties and the City of South Lake Tahoe, reviewed alternatives to address the mandates of AB 939. The JPA reviewed the characteristics of our local waste stream and balanced costs, benefits, practicality, and future planning in making their decision.
The JPA is responsible for directing which recycling programs we implement. After a year of study the JPA approved a system with the technology and flexibility to meet today's needs and address our future goals.
The cornerstone of our local recycling plan is our Materials Recovery Facility, which opened in May, 1995. Referred to as the MRF, collected materials are sorted for the larger recyclables, such as wood, steel and tires. The waste is then loaded onto a conveyor belt where glass, aluminum, tin, plastics, and 5 grades of paper are separated, baled, and stored until transported to market.
Centralized processing of mixed municipal solid waste achieves both a significant reduction in landfill usage and a maximum rate of recycling. The MRF has allowed STR to implement a diverse range of programs addressing both residential and commercial sectors to steadily increase our material recovery rate without increasing traffic in our neighborhoods.
In 2008, STR began a Blue Bag recycling program in cooperation with our local agencies. Blue Bag recycling provides recycling for families who want to recycle at home. It reduces contamination and makes us more efficient. Blue Bag recycling was expanded to all of our schools in 2009, so that children can practice their recycling ethic at home and at school. Blue Bag recycling compliments the MRF system, as materials from the Blue Bags are sorted by type, while resort and other waste streams are still sorted as well.
STR has developed on-site recycling programs for large volume businesses, particularly for businesses with compacted or "wet" trash. STR provides separation containers for targeted materials to many of our largest generators. Over 300 smaller local businesses reduce their garbage bills by recycling their cardboard at no charge at the Transfer Station and recycling beverage containers at the STR Buy-Back Center. Fees at the MRF and RRF are reduced for clean loads of metal, wood, asphalt and concrete.
The MRF and RRF provide the capability to sort and store materials for markets ranging from glass, aluminum, plastic and paper reprocessing, to local concrete and asphalt recycling, to composting of wood waste in the Carson Valley. Markets shift, quality specifications tighten and material prices fluctuate. The worldwide economic slowdown has effected both export and domestic demand for scrap material.
But STR is in the recycling business for the long run. Markets are stabilizing and new technologies will create new markets. Our MRF and RRF provide us with the flexibility to implement the programs that best suit our individual community now and in the future.
In addition, residents who wish to receive their California Redemption Value (CRV) for glass, aluminum and plastic #1 - #7, can redeem those materials, as well as drop off all of our other recyclable materials at the South Tahoe Recycling Center, located down the street from the Transfer Station/MRF facility on Ruth Avenue.
Resource Recovery Facility
STR has developed an extensive wood recycling program in South Lake Tahoe, diverting natural vegetation and milled wood for beneficial use. Clean forest products, including processed slash and clean pine needles are now marketed for soil erosion and stabilization projects around the Tahoe Basin, reducing the introduction of non-native seeds and harmful weeds into the Basin. Agencies like the California Department of Transportation and South Tahoe Public Utility District have taken the lead by prioritizing use of these materials in their contract specifications. Although we are still building these markets, the program is proving cost effective. The remainder of our natural vegetation and all of our milled wood are sent to regional composting projects with Bently Agrowdynamics and Full Circle Compost in the Carson Valley.
The opening of the Resource Recovery Facility (RRF) in 2009 doubled our capacity to recycle wood and yard waste. Selected residential green waste routes and self-haul from contractors and
landscapers have steadily increased the volumes recycled.
Our wood program also supports local Fire Departments and Fire Safe Councils efforts to reduce fuel loading in the Tahoe basin. Chips and slash from agency thinning projects from forest and urban lots are accepted at the RRF, processed and transported directly for composting. Christmas trees are collected by STR and chipped at the RRF shortly after the holidays. STR diverts over 5,000 tons of wood waste each year, including milled wood, slash, stumps and pine needles.
STR has established business plans with Full Circle Compost and Bently Agrowdynamics in the Carson Valley. These plans solidify working relationships developed over the past decade supporting the development of regional composting facilities in the Valley, assuring a long term recycling plan for wood and vegetation material. Other beneficial materials, such as sludge, food and grocery green waste, are potential candidates for diversion via these compost projects.