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Spring/Summer 2019 Newsletter






For a PDF or print version of this newsletter, contact


 Celebrating 25th page banner-01 (2)

Reusapalooza: “Reduce” Is the New Green

The Burbank Recycle Center introduces Reusapalooza, celebrating the lost art of thrift through refusing, reusing, repairing, donating, composting and rethinking our consumption patterns. These Zero Waste principles prioritize conscious actions that reduce disposal and value resources.

When you hear the eco rallying cry “reduce, reuse, recycle,” there is a reason that recycling is listed third and not first. While recycling is useful and should be a household habit by now, waste PREVENTION needs to be the new goal.

Actually, it’s not a “new” way of thinking. Previous generations valued durability, thrift and conserving. Waste was a last resort. Well, it’s time to go retro!

Reusapalooza will include workshops, documentary screenings, collection events, business tips and discussions to help Burbankers think outside the “bin.” For more information on upcoming events, go to or join our Facebook page for daily tips.


Public Works Rock (and Mud) StarsStarlight%20mud_preview_jpeg

After your garbage is picked up or the streets are repaired, you may not think much about Public Works. Yet the department’s staff has responsibilities beyond their regular “day” jobs! Last summer’s La Tuna Canyon fire resulted in months of work, especially after January storms caused mudslides. Public Works crews spent two full weeks cleaning mud flows and debris, working weekday overtime and Saturdays to finish before the next rain. Priority was given to areas that affected the public first to minimize inconvenience, and then debris basins were cleared.

Our hidden heroes are easy to spot in their orange shirts and safety vests, so give them a thumbs up for getting Burbank back to normal so quickly.PW%20Crew%20fighting%20mud%20slides_preview


Re-tooling the Repair Industry

repair guy w pot

When Bill Czappa was a boy, he honed his tinkering skills with his favorite toy: an erector set. Hardened steel rods and screw clamps allowed the construction of hinges and the transmission of mechanical power via rotating parts such as pulleys, gears, wheels and levers. But what it really built was a lifelong love of tinkering, problem-solving and fixing electronics. Having been in the electronics repair business since 1969 (and until recently, the longtime owner of ARC Electronics on Magnolia Boulevard), Czappa has seen the commonplace practice of fixing non-working electronics diminish as equipment has become less durable, more disposable and harder to repair.

One of the first signs of trouble came after U.S. television maker Zenith moved much of its manufacturing to Mexico in the early 1990s. “Zenith’s slogan used to be ‘Quality goes in before the name goes on,’” Czappa said. “The first product of theirs that came into the shop for repair, the name tag had come off.”

The demand for cheap goods was further enabled by cheap disposal. This moved the public away from repair to “replace” by buying new. Electronics became harder to fix due to poor design, low quality components and manufacturers not supplying replacement parts.

More concerning, repair has declined as a vocational career option. As recent generations of young people traded in erector sets for video games, this has meant “game over” in finding qualified employees with repair skills.

These challenges have led to the closing of many of Burbank’s repair businesses. With them, knowledge, skills and history are also lost while more e-waste is created. ARC has survived by diversifying their services and is doing well enough that Czappa recently sold the business. Yet, he still works there to get his “fix” for tinkering and advocating for repair.

Even though products may not be as durable as they once were, Czappa advises not giving up on equipment so quickly. Before heading to an e-waste drop-off, here are some tips:

  • Printers: Often, inkjet cartridges need to be replaced because the ink dried up, not because it’s empty. Don’t let the printer sit for long — try and print something once a week.
  • DVD players: The reason your player quit working? It simply may need to be cleaned. (Czappa estimates that 60% of the “broken” DVD, CD, VCR and other players just need a good cleaning or the circuit board properly soldered.)
  • Antennas: Bypass expensive TV HD upgrades and cancel cable by using an antenna (and the picture is actually better).
  • Replacement Parts: Buy products from companies that stock parts.
  • Durability: “Cheap” often has a cost both financially and environmentally. (Most products today last two years before needing repair compared to 10 years for a product made 15 years ago.)

Let’s not lose our local repair business. Whether it’s fixing shoes, altering clothing, or proactively scheduling regular maintenance on your vacuum cleaner or lawn mower, these are practices with many benefits. You’ll be valuing resources and keeping them from the disposal system, but more importantly, you will be investing in the art of repair and knowledge for the future.

arc man

Bill Czappa displays his re-purposed art.

LineBreak “Right to Repair” Movement



California recently joined 16 other states by introducing a “Right to Repair” bill. If passed, this law would support repair industry jobs, require an adequate quantity of spare parts in the supply chain and keep needless items out of the disposal system. This bill and others like it are a response to the tsunami of electronics that are thrown away every day — many for lack of a minor part, simple upgrade or new battery.

Electronics collection and recycling creates huge costs for cities and counties. For instance, in the City of Burbank, EACH WEEK our Drop Zone e-waste collection area sends out 12 stacked pallets of electronics, such as TVs, microwaves, computers, small appliances, etc. Each pallet is 8 feet tall and weighs an average of 800 pounds. That’s almost 500,000 pounds of electronics each year! With more repair options and higher durability standards, we hope to see a reduction both in the amount of electronics being discarded each week, as well as costs in running the program.

“We should be working to reduce needless waste — repairing things that still have life — but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. Repair should be the easier, more affordable choice and it can be, but first we need to fix our laws,” said Emily Rusch, Executive Director of California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG).LineBreak

Where It All Beganwhere it all began

 Burbank builds its own recycling facility in 1992

Recycling in Burbank had humble beginnings in 1982, when Mayor Mary Lou Howard walked door to door, introducing herself and toting white and green buckets — one each for glass and cans — and a set of recycling instructions. These buckets were collected and emptied by hand and then taken to the recycling facility at the Burbank Water Reclamation Plant. The first year of operation, 1,750 tons of recyclables were processed. Now the City processes an average of 35 tons every day!

City employees were also required to separate their white paper, computer paper and newspaper for recycling. These efforts gave the City a good head start when the State of California passed AB 939 in 1989, a law which required every municipality to reduce its waste stream 50% by the year 2000. The City soon looked beyond recycling to other solutions, such as offering free backyard composting units.

By 1991, the California Department of Conservation honored the City with the first place Public Sector Recycling Achievement Award for its “outstanding, comprehensive” program.

And we were just getting started. A new Public Works state-of-the-art recycling facility was in the works — opening in October 1992. These programs have helped to keep usable resources out of our local landfill, extending its life for generations. Join us as we look back and toward the future.


Recycling’s Hope Lives Onhope mac a loon at stonehedge

Hope McAloon was Burbank’s first recycling specialist. She had a pet name for everyone, usually ending with a long vowel sound, a rhyme, or a rhythm. She smiled a lot, laughed generously and adored her family and friends. With her McGraw Hill publishing experience, Hope typed at freeway speeds. She had a world traveler’s curiosity and a joyous conversational style that put everyone at ease.

Hope started at the City of Burbank in Planning in 1985 but began her recycling journey in 1990 when waste diversion was becoming a priority in California. Soon after, plans for Burbank’s new Recycle Center were gaining momentum. Once it opened in 1992, Hope worked day and night to help the community embrace recycling. Her passion and innovative programs helped lead Burbank to national recognition as one of the first California cities to achieve a 50% recycling rate. Much of that success was built with Hope’s generous teamwork and long hours on weekends and evenings.Hope rainbow

Whenever a brand-new program idea was proposed by staff or a zealous recycling patron, Hope famously would caution, “Lie down until the feeling passes” (quoting her favorite college professor). Yet, just a few minutes later, she would be the one polishing the details on what would often be an award-winning program.

You may have met Hope through her newsletters, pamphlets, Earth Day celebrations, compost workshops, Recycling Heroes, school tours, recognition awards, recycled art reviews, teacher workshops, Zero Waste campaigns or the way she smiled through the phone.

Hope passed away in 2009 but her influence and presence are still felt every day. The Recycle Center’s Administration Building was renamed the Hope Sustainability Center in her honor and to recognize the solid recycling foundation she built for Burbank.


Reducing Waste Takes a Growing Village

In 1989, the average California resident sent 8.4 pounds of waste to landfills each day. By 2016, Burbank residents were sending 4.4 pounds of trash to the landfill daily. The state has established a goal of 75% waste diversion from landfills by 2020. To meet the goal and offset population and business growth, Burbankers will need to generate just 2.7 pounds of waste per day. In order to continue to shrink the trash can, we must rethink what is truly waste and adopt more preventive acts in our daily lives, such as refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and compost!



 Through The Years



  new trash pic


Recycling begins in 1982 with 1,750 tons processed that year. In October 1985, recycling hits a record with 700 tons collected that month. In 1989, AB 939 passed by the State of California setting a landfill diversion goal of 50% by 2000.




BRC Begins! In October 1992, the City commits to reducing its waste footprint by opening a new full-service materials recovery facility (MRF), known as the Burbank Recycle Center (BRC), on a 2½ acre site. This $6.5 million City-owned plant is operated jointly as a public/private partnership. The BRC includes a Learning Center for community outreach and education.

Automation Arrives! Collections are phased in across the CityNovember 1993, collecting trash, recycling and green waste. Recycling is taken to the Recycle Center and yard trimmings are sent to compost, leaving only trash to enter the local Burbank landfill.

With Honors: Amongst the many awards and recognititions, the BRC is featured as the Recycling Facility of the Month in Waste Age magazine.

new recycle truck

, the City’s interactive recycling and composting exhibit opens atthe Learning Center in 1995. Avid environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. was the guest of honor welcoming the new interactive recycling education exhibits, the Junkaranda Recycling Tree and the walk-in compost bin.




Ed Begley

BRC’s mascot is introduced. A “Name Our Goat” contest was held and Billy Rey Cycle was born. It’s a good thing goats have four stomachs, which makes plenty of room for paper, cans,glass and plastic.

                                              Billy Rey Cycle

                                                                                                             Ed Begly Jr.



More Accolades: Burbank Recycle Center receives the National Recycling Coalition’s Best of the Best award, as well as the Beth Brown Boettner Award for Outstanding Public Education for “innovation, leadership, commitment and excellence.” The BRC also received the California League of Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence in the category of land use and environmental quality for its Zero Waste program. “This award is for Burbank’s old, new and future reducing, reusing and recycling efforts,” said Public Works Director Bruce Feng.


compost antThe Compost Corner, a lively outdoor bug and bin demonstration, is introduced.

New Models: The Learning Center added more educational tools like a storm water model that shows how rainwater and litter flow down drains to local waterways and “Buy Recycled,” showing what can be made from recycled materials.

Upgrades: Burbank Recycle Center gets a $1.7 million remodel in 2001, adding new equipment to more efficiently process the 35 to 40 tons received each day



Recycle center machinery



Universal Waste (electronics, batteries, and light bulbs) must now be handled as hazardous waste in California. This prompts the City to add a u-waste drop-off service at the Recycle Center (now called the Drop Zone).

Starlight Bowl begins recycling with BRC providing Zero Waste oversight, after a state law is passed requiring any “large event venue” to recycle.

e wasteorange skirtHope Mac a loon

        Universal E-waste                      zero waste event                        Hope McAloon



Go Zero: City of Burbank officially adopts a Zero Waste Strategic Plan targeting waste reduction, reuse, composting, green purchasing, efficient collection of recyclables and producer responsibility.

Building Hope: On August 11, 2009, the City Council approved a resolution to rename the Recycle Center administration building after Hope McAloon, long-time Recycling Coordinator, who had recently passed away. The building becomes the Hope Sustainability Center.

Zero Waste Events: Burbank Public Works adopts Zero Waste practices at the annual Public Works Picnic and Burbank City Employee Breakfast. Waste is reduced 90% by using washable utensils and plates, composting food scraps, and recycling.


2013-2017mattress drop

Extended producer responsibility expands in California. More manufacturers are mandated to take responsibility for the end of life for their products, such as:

  • PaintCare offers residents convenient drop-off locations for unused paint at participating retailers. (Burbank Recycle Center is not a drop-off for paint.)
  • Bye Bye Mattress begins, keeping 7,000 mattresses out of the Burbank landfill in its first two years. 

Superman recycler


Master Recycler program begins, creating local Zero Waste champions through classes, tours of the Burbank landfill, and community service projects.

The Learning Center continues to  offer exciting educational experiences and waste reduction tips. It welcomes an average of 1,500 visitors annually, from students to seniors.

 kreighs compost

The composting program has taught 10,000 residents how to compost at home and distributed 6,000 home composting units. It’s an investment that has reduced material going to the landfill, collection, transport and processing for green waste, while improving poor soils with nutrients.




Innovative Pilot Projects

In 1997, the Burbank Unified School District and the City of Burbank implement a pilot school lunch recycling program at George Washington Elementary School. The program demonstrates an overall lunch waste reduction potential of 85%, comprised of 72% compostables and 13% recyclables. The innovative pilot program was a precursor to the Food Share Table and other waste reduction activities that the school district is implementing today.

In 2002, BRC kicks off Reuse-a-Shoe. Nike grinds the rubber parts of shoes to make Nike-Grind — crumb rubber used to make playground surfaces and athletic fields. The program collected 224 pairs of athletic shoes in the first six weeks and 4,750 in the first year. (We no longer accept shoes at BRC, but you can still recycle them at Nike stores.)

school foodgirl with shoe


Employee Spotlight


Jorge Sandoval has been working at the Burbank Recycle Center almost as long as it has been open. When he began, Jorge was just a teenager and now he is a proud father of four. Jorge works at the Drop Zone, our universal waste and used motor oil recycling section.


Out With the Old

And In With the New

When the Burbank Recycle Center opened to support and expand Burbank’s recycling efforts, we collected different materials than we see today. In 1992, collections focused on paper, metal, glass and a small amount of plastic bottles. Yes, we still have paper and boxes and cans. However, the increase in “online everything” means a dramatic drop in video cassette tapes and floppy discs. Instead, we collect a mountain of electronic gadgets and their worn-out batteries. We see much less newspaper and fewer phone books but a lot more cardboard boxes and fewer glass bottles and jars but much more plastic.

             BRC bin & man

As the products and packages used in homes and businesses change, the Burbank Recycle Center adapts. Yet our mission remains the same: reducing the amount of trash that heads to the landfill and helping Burbank turn discards into resources.





The Burbank Recycle Center at 25

Kreigh at trash“Our consumption of disposable products is neither innocent nor insignificant. Those who come after will inherit either our thoughtful, good designs or our denial, weakness and mistakes.” ~ Kreigh Hampel, Recycling Coordinator

The Burbank Recycle Center was built 25 years ago to handle newsprint, tin, glass and aluminum. These common materials have been the valuable bedrock on which the modern residential recycling industry was built. But since that time, our world economy has moved to less durable and more disposable products that are technically or financially non-recyclable.

Plastic Invasion

Our disposal system has been greatly altered in the past two and a half decades by the American consumer’s preference for more convenience. At the same time, manufacturers “lightweighted” packaging to save money on transporting their products. This has led to a reduction in durable metal and glass containers and an increase in plastics.

Plastics are desirable to consumers and product producers alike. However, they present challenges after they are discarded, which is where much of their impact arises. Much of the plastic packaging in today’s consumer goods (such as flexible pouches or cartons comprised of different types of plastic) are difficult to recycle or have little value as commodities.

Plastic use has exploded in the past decade, and it is estimated that only 9% of all the plastic created in the past 60 years has been recycled. Plastic, unlike paper, does not biodegrade. As it breaks into ever-smaller pieces, “micro-plastic” enters waterways through our storm drains and puts wildlife at risk. In our oceans, a plastic soup has violated the entire ocean ecosystem, shorelines and food chain.

The Amazon Effect

The greatest disrupter in residential consumption has come from the growth of online technology, leading to fewer newspapers and magazines but more at-home shipping and much more cardboard. Often referred to as the “Amazon Effect,” recycling streams have changed from gray to brown in less than a generation.

As consumers rely less on local retail stores and more on online shopping, the result is less high-quality cardboard being recycled. Local retailers and businesses generally collect their cardboard separately, with little tape and few shipping labels. Moreover, their cardboard streams are clean and don’t include contaminants, such as other packing materials (foam, plastic, etc.), glass, food or trash. Clean cardboard has been one of the most valuable commodities in commercial recycling programs.

Conversely, online retailers’ shipping models require tape and labels which reduce the quality of the recyclable cardboard. Also, less of the cardboard is captured because not all consumers are recycling; even if recycled, it’s mixed in a bin with possible contaminants like food residue or liquids. So, the shift to online convenience has created other unintended consequences for recycling.

China Is No Longer Our “Away”

We need to recognize that there is no such place as “away.” Our collected recyclables must go somewhere and for decades that “away” has been to overseas markets. Recently, the largest buyer of America’s scrap plastic and cardboard, China, announced strict purity standards that cannot be met by U.S. mixed collection and dirty separation facilities. It has become harder to find an “away” that wants our discarded consumer goods.

The recycling industry is doing its best to keep up “downstream” with what is going on in the rapidly changing “upstream” materials and packaging marketplace.

Recycling facilities need to be upgraded to deal with today’s material stream and the mountains of plastic and cardboard that consumers and industry generate. But these upgrades come at great cost to municipalities and private recyclers. With uncertain commodity values and waning profitability, this can be a difficult capital investment proposition.

We must now think outside of the (cardboard) box: throwing something “away” in the recycling bin is no longer all that is required. As packaging materials become more complex, disposability of new products grows and recycling options become more challenging.

ReTHINK, Then Recycle

As the Burbank Recycle Center moves into its next 25 years, or as we call it BRC 5.0, the focus must turn to upstream waste reduction. Recycling and disposal must be the last acts, not the first. Our purchases are direct communication to manufacturers. Perhaps it is time to change the message by letting manufacturers know that we value durability, local economies and less packaging. It’s time to realize that we are not “saving the Earth” by recycling; we need to quickly recognize that we are wasting the Earth’s valuable resources if the things we buy cannot be reused or recycled.


BRC 5.0: Looking Toward Burbank Recycle Center’s 50th Anniversary

The City’s Zero Waste Plan (Resolution 27,623, passed in 2008) challenges us to prevent waste and value resources. Moving forward we will be more strategic as we “go retro,” returning to the basic concepts of conservation — Reduce and Reuse.


Reduce: Designing wisely and using less

  • Mindful consumption
  • Industry responsibility
  • Refuse unnecessary items like straws and disposable shopping bags.

Reuse: Finding new uses for existing materials

  • Redistribution of discarded items through donation and sharing
  • Reuse and repurpose
  • Repair

Recycle: After all other options have been exhausted


Advocate and Promote

  • Durability: Produce items built to last and easier to repair or upgrade.
  • Manufacturer responsibility: Known as Product Stewardship, producers share in the “end of life” management of their products.
  • Right to Repair: Manufacturers make products repairable.
  • Packaging redesign: Avoid disposability, use less plastic and increase recyclability.
  • Closed loop market development: Encourage and support industries that utilize recycled content.

BRC 5.0: Think Big, Not Just “Bin”

  • Empower and educate citizens so they can influence their family and friends!
  • Go big! Develop and pilot waste reduction programs that can become best practices with large institutions, such as schools, studios, public buildings and businesses.
  • Provide technical assistance to help businesses find ways to reduce their waste footprint.
  • Work with apartment tenants and property managers to find ways to improve recycling opportunities that build a recycling culture among residents.
  • Prevent stormwater pollution by ensuring that residents and visitors understand that litter goes straight into our waterways, polluting our rivers, beaches and the ocean.
  • Improve collection of challenging yet useful materials, such as glass, textiles and flexible plastic film.
  • Value organic materials, such as food waste, by moving away from landfill and into composting operations or energy recovery. This will also reduce methane emissions and preserve Burbank’s landfill space.
  • Explore expanded curbside opportunities that will significantly increase landfill diversion, such as curbside food scrap collections in the green bin.
  • Develop networks and promote tools to connect commercial food donors and nonprofit recipients to reduce the amount of edible food sent to landfills.
  • Go small! Expand our backyard composting and city mulch programs to include composting plots at schools, community gardens and urban composting hubs.
  • Train gardeners and residents to adopt greener landscape practices.


Burbank’s Commercial Recycling Bin Program

Do your employees or tenants want to recycle but your waste hauler doesn’t offer a separate recycling bin? Combining your trash and recyclable items together reduces the chance that these materials can be recycled. It’s not surprising that diapers and food scraps ruin clean paper!

The State of California mandates business and multi-family recycling. To help, Burbank Public Works Department offers recycling bins at no additional cost for businesses and multi-family complexes.

  • Call 818-238-3800 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to make the request.
  • Make sure you have room on the property for the bin and easy access to it.
  • Prepare and train your employees, custodians, customers or tenants to know what materials go into the bin. (If the recycle bin is contaminated, you will be charged for a trash pickup.) An Accepted Materials pamphlet is available at the Burbank Recycle Center.
  • At multi-family properties, only the owner or manager may request service. Tenants who are interested in recycling should direct requests to their property manager and inform them of this City program.


Do Pick Up the Doo-Doo

Not only is pet waste a problem to your neighbors, but it can also wash into gutters and storm drains, carrying diseases into our rivers and oceans. Properly dispose of pet waste by regularly scooping it up in your own yard and bagging it on your walks. Put dog doo-doo and cat litter in your black bin. Your neighbors will be watching — and will thank you for doing the right thing!

doggie doo


Bottles Caps — On or Off?

When recycling your bottles curbside or at the Burbank Recycle Center, keep those caps on! For one thing, lightweight, loose caps are one of the largest sources of litter and easily travel into waterways where wildlife may ingest them. Another reason is that it is difficult to recycle tiny items by themselves — especially loose caps. By keeping them ON the bottle, they are more easily captured for recycling and the plastic recycler has another type of plastic to process and sell.

The Burbank Recycle Center sends all of its plastic #1 (PET) bottles to CarbonLITE in nearby Riverside, CA. At CarbonLITE, caps, neck rings, and labels are all separated from the bottle with specialized equipment during the recycling process. These materials are then used to create a polyolefin chip for use in manufacturing items such as utility boxes for sprinkler systems.

When you are finished with your drink, simply put the cap back on and toss the bottle into your recycling bin.

connect the cap

Connect the Cap

Because of the environmental damage caused by stray bottle caps that are littered, Assembly-member Mark Stone (Santa Cruz) introduced Assembly Bill 319. This bill would have required that plastic water and soda bottle manufacturers redesign their caps so they stay tethered to the container. A similar effort decades ago led to tabs staying attached to aluminum beverage cans. AB 319 died in committee in 2017. However, a similar measure, AB 2779, has been reintroduced this year. Meanwhile, Crystal Geyser has already begun to offer some bottled water with a tethered bottle cap, proving that good design can connect with other sustainability goals.



 Spring Cleaning?

Think About Your Sewer Pipes

As you are doing your spring cleaning, you may not think below ground, but maybe you should. According to Burbank Municipal Code (BMC) 8-1-107, the property owner is responsible to clean, maintain, and repair their sewer lateral from the house connection to the City sewer main. Because of the past several years of drought, roots have been migrating further into private sewer laterals. That means your sewer pipes may be slowly clogging, which can result in messy backups and costly repairs. Spring is a great time to clean out above and below ground. The City’s Sewer Lateral User Rebate Program (SLURP) is designed to assist single-family and duplex properties with maintaining and repairing their private sewer laterals. To learn more about the SLURP program, visit or contact the Public Works’ Wastewater Division at 818-238-3915.

LineBreak What about bags?plastic-film_RetailPoster_11x17_Print_preview_jpeg

Despite the statewide single-use grocery bag ban, plastic film, packaging, shrink wrap and trash bags continue to be among the highest volume items in recycle bins. It’s a huge problem. Due to their aerodynamic nature, plastic bags are a prominent source of litter and waterway pollution. They are also a headache for recycling facilities. Plastic bags and other film items are contaminants in a mixed recycling stream and create a lot of extra work for the recycling crews. Loose plastic film is lightweight and makes its way into the spinning sorting equipment, where it gets tangled, slowing and potentially damaging the machines. When this happens, production shuts down while workers cut the tangles out. This is also risky for Recycle Center staff. Once the bags are removed, they go into the trash — after having taken a costly and dangerous route to the landfill.

The lesson? Please don’t use trash bags for recyclables. If your bin is free of liquids or food residue, it is best to keep everything loose in your recycle bin. You’ll save money on bags and save everyone more hassle and expense.

Yet Plastic Film IS Recyclable. Clean plastic film does have a value when collected separately. Plastic shopping bags, dry cleaning covers and shrink wrap from toilet paper are recyclable only when dropped off at a retail collection site or the Burbank Recycle Center. At home, create a collection bag for bags and film. When it is full, simply drop it off when you are out running errands. To find a bag and film drop-off location near you, go to


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Burbank School’s Share Table Program Is Here!

Anyone who has ever been a child realizes that kids are prone to waste food. Schools know a thing or two about kids’ discriminating palettes and when federal guidelines emphasized healthier school meals, kids cast their votes. The results? The amount of food wasted in schools, much of it untouched, increased significantly.

Food share table pic

 Recent California legislation (AB 1826) calls on institutions and businesses to reduce food waste with good reason. Food comprises roughly 20% of the material going into the State’s landfills. When one in six people in Los Angeles County is hungry (many of them children), the first responsible steps are raising awareness and preventing edible food from becoming waste.

Burbank Recycle Center staff have partnered with Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) to reduce food waste in elementary schools. BUSD is adopting the Los Angeles Unified School District’s new campaign “Choose What You Eat, Eat What You Choose.” This campaign reminds students about their role in food waste prevention. This lesson leads to healthy, lifelong, low-waste habits. And while exchanging food between students is discouraged, all elementary schools have committed to starting a supervised Share Table. Share Tables allow students to donate unopened packaged foods or drinks along with unpeeled fruits so other students can eat them.

Burbank Recycle Center engaged high-energy assemblies with Mr. EcoHero to launch the school programs. Mr. EcoHero performs a rap song about why it’s important not to waste food and also tied it into wasting water and other resources. This energetic musical program made it fun — and memorable — for the students. Over the next few years, the partnership hopes to expand waste reduction programs at middle and high schools. As elementary students graduate they can build on their food sharing experience and their positive waste reduction habits.


Wanted: Zero Waste Heroes

 Zero Waste is a growing movement where all discarded materials are seen and managed as a resource. The Master Recycler Program is a volunteer training for people who want to learn more about Zero Waste, engage with our community, and shape ideas to make a difference. The program includes seven classes (January through early April) highlighting the 6 Rs of waste reduction:

      •   Rethink by redesigning systems, habits, and mindsetsSuperman Shutterstock



      •   Refuse by saying “no” to unnecessary waste

      •   Reduce by sharing, renting, and borrowing

      •   Reuse by repairing and repurposing

      •   Recycle by sorting and sending it on

      •   Return by giving nutrients back to nature

The Master Recycler program is free. Classes include lively discussions, hands-on learning, tours, guest speakers, and instruction from the professionals at the Burbank Recycle Center. Master Recyclers who complete all seven classes and 30 hours of community projects and volunteering will receive a graduation certificate and recognition.

Classes are limited in size and begin Saturday, January 13. Visit The Master Recycler Program tab on the Burbank Recycle Center homepage to learn more or contact Amy Hammes, Recycling Specialist at 818-238- 3900 or


Monday–Friday Drop Zone Debut

You may have noticed a new look at our facility with the launch of the “Monday–Friday Drop Zone,” our weekday universal waste landing site. We created a bright and inviting place to safely and conveniently collect problematic items like electronic waste, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and used motor oil for residents and businesses (quantity limits apply).


These items are called “universal” waste because they are common but toxic and cannot be put in the recycling or trash bin. Yet, providing this City service is expensive, so it is closed on Saturday. However, many Burbank residents get confused because the rest of the facility is open for regular recycling and bottle and can redemption. So, it was time to rebrand.

This area now stands out making it clear when the Drop Zone is closed on Saturdays. We’ve also added an “Information Station” wall with flyers on recycling and reuse options, workshops, events, as well as universal waste weekend drop off options.

If you do come on Saturday when the Drop Zone is closed, do NOT leave items behind. Universal waste requires special handling, so dropping off when we are closed is illegal dumping! But the good news is the Los Angeles S.A.F.E. Centers, are open on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Between the Monday–Friday Drop Zone and the Saturday and Sunday S.A.F.E. Centers, residents have free drop-off options seven days a week!


3 Ways to Recycle Your Tree


1.   At the Curb/Alley: From January 1 through January 19, the City of Burbank will collect holiday trees placed in the alley and at the curb.

2.   In the Green Waste Container: Cut trees into pieces to fit into your green cart with your other yard trimmings.

3.   In Three Parks: From December 26 through January 19, drop off trees in:

      •     Verdugo Park at California Street and Verdugo Avenue

      •     Ralph Foy Park in the parking lot on Victory Boulevard

      •     McCambridge Park in the parking lot on Andover Drive 

Because trees are mulched or composted, please remove all tinsel, ornaments, lights, and stands. NO stands will be accepted! Flocked trees cannot be recycled. If you have questions, call the City at 818-238-3800.


Shining a Light on Tree Lights


Please don’t put Christmas lights in the trash or recycling bins! Light strings are electronic waste, so please bring them to the Drop Zone at the Burbank Recycle Center, which is open Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Better yet, try and find a way to get them working again for next year.



’Tis the Season to Reduce


Your holiday season should be merry and bright, not stressful and wasteful. Keep the environment in mind by trying some of these gift-giving alternatives this year.

Make a List (and Check It Twice!): And stick to your budget to avoid over spending.

Give the Gift of You: Is there someone on the list that you’d like to see more often? Instead of giving a gift, make arrangements to get together or promise a monthly visit.

Made by You: Put your skills to work and make homemade gifts, such as scarves, ornaments, and baked goods. Decorate an old picture frame and add a photo. Or if you are handy, fix a broken item for your loved one.

Give an Experience: Do you have friends or relatives who are sports fans but don’t go to games very often? Give them tickets! Not a sports fan? Give tickets to a concert or play, a museum membership, or park passes.

Remember to Reuse: Reusable shopping bags aren’t just for groceries! Wherever you are shopping for holiday gifts, carry your own reusable bags with you to the store.

Avoid a Bad Wrap: Reuse last year’s paper, bags, and bows (and save this year’s for next year). Choose reusable gift bags if you need to buy something new. Use fabric scraps, old pillow cases, or maps to create unique wrapping “paper.” Or just use a different box to keep them guessing!

Don’t Buy Plastic Gift Cards: They are not recyclable. Plus cash fits everyone and is reusable!

Don’t Forget to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: Provide bins during holiday parties. Recycle non-metallic wrapping paper and holiday cards, too. Aim to reduce waste before creating it.


Thanks, But No TanksBalloon tank

Balloons can make a party festive, but discarded helium balloon tanks are nothing to celebrate. They contain helium, a non-renewable resource that needs to be preserved, not wasted. Helium is very important for making rocket fuel, semi-conductors for electronics, and medical MRIs. Plus, helium tanks are extremely difficult to properly dispose and cannot be put in your recycling bin. The Burbank Recycle Center does not accept them for drop off either.

With this in mind, think twice before purchasing a helium tank for your next party. Instead, blow up latex balloons with your own breath or rent a tank from a specialty store. Just remember, balloons and strings can be dangerous to animals and create street litter when released or improperly disposed.

You can take empty helium tanks to the Los Angeles S.A.F.E. Centers, but there are several steps to prepare the tank before dropping it off to ensure worker safety. Most manufacturers have recycling preparation instructions on their website.


Rescue Reduce Rehome

Adopt Don't Shop!


Reduce the pet overpopulation by rescuing from the Burbank Animal Shelter.  It's also one of the best way to practice reuse. 



Composting: The Homegrown Solution

Composting Banner

Our composting workshops are held on the LAST Wednesday of the month. The 2018 season begins March 28th and go through November.

Backyard composting reduces this waste and turns it back into valuable soil nutrients to produce healthier plants and improved water retention in your own gardens. We’ll show you how easy it is to keep your green waste at home working for you.


Baby, It’s Cold Outside

As the temperature begins to drop, you may think about switching to a “smart” thermostat. These thermostats can help save energy, money, and time. They are also more accurate than mercury-based thermostats, keeping your home at the right temperature with fewer adjustments.

If you decide to make the change, be sure your old mercury thermostat is carefully recycled. You’ll be happy to know that older mercury thermostats can be recycled on weekdays at participating heating and cooling suppliers in Burbank. To find a location, go to the Thermostat Recycling Corporation’s website at Mercury thermostats can also be carefully handed to staff at the Los Angeles S.A.F.E Centers, which are open on Saturdays and Sundays.

Just a reminder — mercury thermostats are not accepted at the Burbank Recycle Center Drop Zone. However, digital thermostats can be recycled there, as well as at S.A.F.E. Centers or at special collection events.


Reduce Your Use: ReThink Plastic StrawsPaper-straws_preview

Americans use about 500 million plastic straws a day and they aren’t recyclable. Many become litter and are carried down storm drains and into waterways. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that plastic straws are one of the top five most common items found during International Coastal Cleanups. This is a problem that really sucks up a lot of resources. Yet there are alternatives like reusable straws made from metal, glass, or bamboo. Reusable versions are great holiday gifts for the environmentally responsible folks on your shopping list. Make a statement without making waste.

Here are ways to reduce:

Step 1: Make a personal commitment to say “no” to plastic straws. Whenever ordering a drink, politely request in advance “no straw, please.”

Step 2: Reach out to your favorite local eateries and ask them to change their protocol to provide straws only upon request.

Step 3: Encourage restaurants to switch to non-plastic straw options, like old-fashioned paper.


A Pointed Conversation

Californians generate some 389 million sharps each year and illegally dumped needles have reached epidemic proportions at the Burbank Recycle Center.

In 2016 over 3,000 pSharps hazardounds of illegal needles were pulled from Burbank’s sorting line. Workers who sort materials by hand are always on watch and if stuck, are subject to a minimum of six months of blood tests for Hepatitis, AIDS, and other diseases.

Never place needles in trash or recycling containers! Assume everything you throw away will be handled by your family, kids, or parents.

For responsible disposal, place all sharps in an approved red container and bring your full container to one of the S.A.F.E. Collection Centers. The Centers are open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The two centers nearest Burbank are located at 4600 Colorado Boulevard near Atwater or 11025 Randall Street near Sun Valley.


A Stickler for Needle Product StewardshipKreigh award

A big CONGRATS to our own Kreigh Hampel, Recycling Coordinator for the City of Burbank, who was recently recognized as the California Product Stewardship Council’s “Associate of the Year.”

The California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) advocates for policies that require manufacturers, retailers, and packaging producers to minimize their environmental impact and create “take-back” programs for their end-of-life products.

A CPSC Board Member since 2011, Kreigh has been instrumental in advancing producer responsibility in California, notably his recent work on safe needle disposal. Kreigh’s compelling testimony in Sacramento brought to light the huge problem of medical needles, or “sharps,” that are entering the waste and recycling streams due to lack of safe disposal options, as well as the costs local governments bear in dealing with this medical waste.

For more information on CPSC and product stewardship, visit


Ask Your Retailer to Pick up Your Mattress

Together, we are recycling almost 4,000 mattresses per year, saving space over a half mile high in the Burbank landfill. If you are a Burbank resident with an old mattress and box springs, here are your options:

1.         Ask your retailer to take back the old mattress when a new mattress is delivered.

2.         Bring the old mattress and box springs to the Burbank Recycle  Center during regular drop-off hours.

3.         Schedule a curbside pickup by calling Burbank’s Bulk Item Pickup at 818-238-3805.

4.         Take the mattress directly to a mattress recycling facility in Los Angeles and get $3 for each mattress. For locations and payment details, visit


Don’t Let Your Sewer Take “Root”

According to Burbank Municipal Code (BMC) 8-1-107, the property owner must clean, maintain, and repair their sewer lateral from the house connection to the City sewer main. As a result of the past several years of drought, roots have been migrating further into private sewer laterals. The lack of regular maintenance can result in costly repairs.

The City’s Sewer Lateral User Rebate Program (SLURP) is designed to assist single-family and duplex properties with maintaining and repairing their private sewer laterals. To learn more about the SLURP program, visit or contact the Public Works’ Wastewater Division at 818-238-3915.


Drains Are for Rains

Remember that there is no such place as “away” — storm drain debris and chemical runoff head straight to the ocean. Protect our waterways by picking up litter and avoiding the use of problematic chemicals whenever possible.


Waste Reduction Ends on a High Note

The Starlight Bowl’s Zero Waste efforts climbed to new levels this year! Not only did the staff continue the innovative on-site composting and recycling programs, but they focused on recovering unusual wastes whenever possible. Staff worked closely and quickly with sponsors to make sure that their surprise giveaways avoided the trash bin. On July 4th for examStarlight Megabin stationsple, any unwanted blinking foam light sticks were collected as the crowd exited. The lights were later donated to the teacher supply non-profit, “Trash 4 Teaching” where the they found a second chance to shine in classroom art projects. Concessionaire Canyon Grille joined in the Zero Waste festivities by implementing their own waste reduction efforts (see box). Finally, Recycled Movie, a company dedicated to material recovery, was hired to oversee the working details of the Bowl’s Zero Waste program. The crew coordinated vendors, managed collection stations, and ensured that materials were prepped for recycling after the event.

The Zero Waste program created 16 employment opportunities for green-minded people.

Thesechanges made a difference in moving Starlight Bowl closer to Zero Waste! 77% of discards were diverted from the landfill, up from last year’s 70%.

Canyon Grille Partners for Zero Waste

Canyon Grille, the restaurant at the nearby DeBell Golf Course, served as the concessionaire at the Starlight Bowl this year. After learning about the existing recycling and composting programs, Canyon Grille Executive Chef Mauro Payan decided to embrace waste reduction, too. They:

•     Eliminated the use of polystyrene foam, which becomes trash, and instead used uncoated paper products that were compostable.

•     Set up stations for pump bottles and utensils instead of automatically handing out packaged cutlery and condiment packets.

•     Served beverages in recyclable, clear #1 PET plastic cups.

These actions drastically reduced the volume of material going into the trash and diverted more materials into the compost bins. Best of all, there were very few plastic condiment packets contaminating the compostable food and soiled paper! A big thank you to the staff at Canyon Grille!


Marnell Gibson: Burbank’s New Public Works Director

After an extensive search and agency analysis, the City of Burbank welcomed Marnell Gibson as Public Works Director in July. With over 28 years of civil engineering experience in the planning, design, and construction of public infrastructure, Gibson will oversee the Public Works Department’s six divisions which include City streets, sidewalks, and buildings; sewer and water reclamation; traffic control; and refuse collection and recycling. In the past few months, Gibson has been impressed with the amazing customer service the City provides, as well as the endless opportunities offered to residents and visitors.

She previously worked as the City Engineer and Assistant Director of Public Works for the City of San Diego. Her time in public works has focused on community engagement, fiduciary responsibility, and capital improvement.

Gibson’s management philosophy is built on establishing trust with her team to empower them to do their jobs because “they are the subject matter experts.”

She has been quickly acclimating to her new position in Burbank and the Recycle Center staff have been communicating their “subject matter expertise” about the environmental goals of Zero Waste.

“Recycling Coordinator Kreigh Hampel has me seriously moving away from the use of straws!” she said. (Or, as he prefers to call them, evil-unnecessary-disposable-plastic-liquid-delivery-devices.)

When not cheering on her daughters during their beach volleyball games, Gibson, like any typical SoCal resident, can be found outdoors pursuing a variety of sports and activities.


Meet Marnell

PW Director Marnel

•     Favorite quote: “Do what you love and love what you do.”

•     First job: Janitorial services at my dad’s office. He also reaped the benefit that I would do filing.

•     First job in public works: I was a summer intern for the City of Coronado while going to college.

•     Interesting ways you reduce, reuse, and recycle: One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. I try to “share” my trash whenever I can.

“I’ve committed my career to serving people and the greater good. I’m looking forward to doing the same in such a cutting edge city as Burbank.” ~ Marnell Gibson, City of Burbank Public Works Director


“Eco-Lodeon” Moves into Nickelodeon’s New Burbank CampusEcolodeon

While many businesses struggle with the new California recycling mandates, Nickelodeon West Coast has been entertaining the idea of zero waste. Nickelodeon’s new campus expansion includes 700 employees, a second building, five floors, and also some impressive “Eco-Lodeon” innovations. For starters, the building is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified, which ensures high energy efficiency and environmentally responsible building materials.

Inspired by this new environment, Administrative Production Coordinator Kate Remsen thought there was more that could be done, especially in shrinking their waste footprint. She had already been instrumental in removing disposable drinkware from staff kitchens and supplying each employee with a reusable mug. The reusables saved money on purchasing and disposing of single-use products. With the support of the network’s senior management, Remsen worked with Facilities leaders to develop her Eco-Lodeon program and implement additional Zero Waste practices in the new building. We asked Remsen about the Eco-Lodeon program:

What waste reduction initiatives has your company implemented? We donate electronics, furniture, and extra supplies to Habitat for Humanity and to arts education programs in Burbank and around the Los Angeles basin. All unserved food from our Nick Café, events, and various other sources are recovered. We reduce our food waste and provide food to help LA Midnight Mission. In addition to the move away from disposable drinkware, our newest initiative is reducing our waste by composting food scraps.

Describe your organics recycling program. We teamed up with our hauler to determine the best way to recycle, compost, and reduce our overall waste. Our composting program was implemented in June 2017 and the employees and janitorial staff are working hard to separate their discards into the three-bin system: food and soiled paper, recycling, and waste. Organics are turned into compost. Recycling and waste are taken for additional separation off site.

How did you introduce this to the employees? We started with email announcements and posters introducing the Eco-Lodeon program. We used images instead of words to help children, as well as foreign employees. Posters were placed around the building and signs went up by the bins to let employees know what goes where.

How have employees responded? As with all changes, it was a hard adjustment and we are still getting used to the new system. However, the feedback we have received is positive, with most employees exclaiming, “Finally! I’m so glad we are doing this!” Since Nickelodeon is always kids first, we are making a difference for the next generation and ensuring a future home for them and us!

What is the most surprising thing that you have discovered along this waste reduction journey? The type of things that can be recycled is super strict, especially on contaminated materials. By separating food from recyclables, we not only repurpose leftover food and soiled paper by composting, but we also ensure that our office paper and plastic are cleaner for recycling.

How important has it been to have support from upper management and parent company, Viacom? It’s extremely important! It shows employees that management believes in the Eco-Lodeon project and is committed to a better future for ourselves and our kids. Plus, having management give the OK on the green initiatives allows us to move forward toward bigger and better changes.

Any advice for a business trying to create waste reduction programs?

•           Get the employees involved and excited. We rolled out this program with a massive Earth Day fair. Employees learned what they can do in their own homes to reduce waste and save money while they enjoyed beneficial giveaways like succulents.

•           Implement the program without hesitation. People will adapt to changes more quickly if you simply say, “This is happening.”

•           Provide opportunities for employees to understand the impact of their actions. Why are we composting? What is the compost used for? How much are we reducing our footprint and how am I a part of the change? By providing education, we can all see our direct impact, which increases morale and excites everyone!



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