In an effort to promote environmental awareness and employ the homeless, L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and the Venice Neighborhood Council have launched a new recycling program at Venice Beach. The program, unveiled last week on the famed Ocean Front Walk, will reduce landfill waste, cut ocean pollution, promote recycling, and create “green collar” jobs for the homeless.
Rosendahl, neighborhood leaders, and sanitation officials installed 12 blue recycling bins along the busiest sections of the boardwalk. The bins will be emptied and maintained by homeless people working for the Santa Monica nonprofit agency Chrysalis. “This project is great for the community, great for the environment, and great for the homeless,” Rosendahl said. “Venice Beach is the City’s top tourist attraction, and I hope this program can be a model for the rest of the City.”
Rosendahl and the Venice Neighborhood Council conceived of the idea to install the bins as part of a larger campaign to make Venice into a more environmentally sustainable community. The neighborhood council played an integral role in designing the bins and selecting appropriate locations for them in areas with lots of foot traffic.
“This project is a fantastic example of a neighborhood council working together with the city government and nonprofit sector to effectively address a local challenge,” said Mike Newhouse, president of the neighborhood council. “I envision this process as a model for similar collaborative efforts in Venice and throughout the City.”
The Venice blue bins were specifically designed to be visually consistent with the blue bins that Angelenos use to recycle at home, and the Venice bins can accept the full range of recyclable materials including plastics, paper, cardboard, glass bottles, metal cans, and Styrofoam. The Bureau of Sanitation purchased the bright blue recycling bins using proceeds from a tax on private trash haulers.
This project will help implement the City of Los Angeles’ Zero Waste Plan, which establishes programs and benchmarks for the City to dramatically reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills. The Zero Waste Plan has been gathering public input for the last year on how to deal with the solid waste crisis. Speaking to community stakeholders, project manager Reina Pereira said, “We heard you, and today the Bureau of Sanitation is proud to see the installation of the recycling bins on Venice Beach come to fruition. This is one of many future steps that will pave the way to achieving zero waste in our city by 2030.”
The new recycling bins will be serviced by Chrysalis Enterprises, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless and economically disadvantaged individuals become self-sufficient through employment opportunities. Chrysalis’ recycling program pays for itself at no cost to the city by selling the collected materials to recycling companies, who in turn convert these materials into new products.
The new recycling bins in Venice will allow Chrysalis to provide more quality jobs for its clients who are working to turn their lives around. “A steady job makes all the difference in dealing with poverty in Los Angeles,” said Mark Loranger, vice president of Chrysalis Enterprises. “This innovative environmental partnership will extract value from our waste and give hard-working men and women the opportunity to permanently change their lives.”
The City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, which operates the Venice boardwalk, expects to see its trash disposal costs decrease as a result of the new recycling bins. It costs about $35 per ton to dispose of garbage, while selling recyclables can generate about $25 per ton in revenue. While space is very limited on the boardwalk, which is often crowded with vendors, artists, and beachgoers, the Department saw the importance of making room for an environmental cause that will help its bottom line.
Rosendahl expressed his pride in bringing all these players together to create a quality program. “Government is most effective when it works hand in hand with local community groups,” he said. “I applaud the leadership of the Venice Neighborhood Council for focusing its energy on such tangible neighborhood improvements that will improve the environment in which we all live.”