By Ben Messenger

Businesses in San José, California have tripled their recycling rate from 22% to almost 70% in the six months to December 2012 as the result of a new collection system.

According to the City of San Jose, the new waste collection services began in July last year and are provides a two container wet/dry sort for businesses.

Wet items include organics, such as food waste, used napkins and paper plates, and landscape trimmings. Dry items include everything else, including glass, paper, plastics, cardboard, and scrap metals.

Additionally, the waste collection has also changed to a single hauler system under a franchise with the City of San José. Previously, the City said that its 8000 businesses selected and negotiated their own garbage and recycling services among more than 20 different City-approved haulers.

In 2011, the City said that it conducted a competitive bid process, bringing in Republic Services (NYSE: RSG) and Zero Waste Energy Development (ZWED), which is developing a number of anaerobic digestion biogas plants in California, to collaborate and develop services and infrastructure that would both escalate the business community’s rate of recycling and reduce carbon output.

In order to process the increased volume of business waste, Republic expanded its San José material recovery facility to an 80,000 square foot (7400 square metre), multi-stream processing centre capable of sorting 400,000 tons (363,000 tonnes) of mixed wet and dry materials every year.

According to the City of San Jose, the facility stands as the largest recycling facility in the world.

ZWED’s facility addresses the waste to energy component of the ‘Green Vision’ and the company is currently constructing North America’s first commercial scale dry waste digester facility in San José, which will take the organic stream generated by the business community and convert it to biogas.

The facility is anticipated to be operational in early 2014.


This article originally appeared on Waste Management World on 3/11/13.