In this week’s Couch’s Corner, I wanted to showcase a new and exciting recycling program in Kern County. Americans dispose of approximately 10 million metric tons of glass annually. Most of it ends up in the trash. Only about a third gets recycled. Glass has an unlimited life and can be recycled endlessly to make new glass products with no loss in quality.
Recycling glass has many proven environmental benefits, such as the reduction in emissions, energy savings and reduction in the consumption of raw materials. Some 93 percent of residents and consumers expect to be able to recycle glass.
Bottle recycling rates have dropped sharply in California over the past decade. Even before the pandemic hit, Californians were having trouble finding places to recycle their bottles. Hundreds of buy-back centers had already shut down over the past year. Now, many of the remaining centers have also closed, at least temporarily, to help stop the virus from spreading.
Kern Alliance of Business Inc., a California nonprofit public benefit corporation doing business as Recycling Lives, desires to eliminate non-CRV glass bottles from being taken to the local landfill through its Recycling Lives Program.
KAB serves as the non-profit arm of Employers’ Training Resource, a department within Kern County. ETR is the fiscal and administrative agent for the Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties Workforce Development Board and has been providing workforce training services in Kern County for more than 40 years.
Recycling Lives was established as a California nonprofit corporation started by one of my current staff members, Sal Moretti, in October 2017 with the intent to break the cycle of homelessness, poverty and incarceration by recycling lives and glass in Kern County. In February 2018, RL made a determination that KAB was in a better position to ensure the successful operation of the RL program due to its connection with ETR and the partnerships that ETR has formed through the workforce development system.
RL is partnering with Bakersfield Adult School within Kern High School District for training services for participants. RL is also working with The Mission at Kern County, Bakersfield Homeless Center, Kern County Probation, Garden Pathways and Kern County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services to identify eligible participants for the program.
On June 15, BAS started its first cohort of eight participants. One of the participants left the program due to finding a high-paying employment opportunity. The RL program includes classroom training on basic safety and equipment operation, soft skills and basic work readiness. In addition, the facility will provide equipment operation training, forklift training and warehouse management training.
On July 30, all seven participants completed the program; five were hired by employers throughout Kern County and two have been rehired by the RL program to act as warehouse logistic leads for the second cohort. Eight participants enrolled in the second cohort, which commenced on Aug. 18 and continues until Nov. 18.
RL is using the Andela Glass Pulverizer System (Andela Recycling System), which turns small to large volumes of waste glass into fine sand or gravel and broken glass with no sharp edges or decorative glass of different colors. Participants feed mixed, broken, unsorted glass and take out round-edged aggregate. The Andela Recycling System selectively reduces the glass into 3/8 of an inch in size or finer aggregate, but removes metal, plastics and paper without hand sorting. The sand will be sold in bulk to private businesses, as well as to cities and the county of Kern to be used for public work projects. The decorative glass will be sold in bulk to businesses and the general public for landscape material.
KAB is providing opportunities for RL participants to access the entire workforce development system, which is designed to increase access to, and opportunities for, employment, education, training and supportive services that individuals need to succeed in the labor market, particularly those with disabilities, ex-offenders and other barriers to employment.
Much thanks to ETR, BAS and the Lazzerini Foundation for their contributions to make this program successful. If you have any questions about this or any District 4 matter, don’t hesitate to call at 661-868-3680 or email us at District4@kerncounty.com. Have a safe week.
David Couch represents Kern County’s 4th District.
Read More:COUCH’S CORNER: New recycling program in Kern has multiple benefits