FAIRFIELD — Margaret Manzo in 2010 looked at a big dumpster of garbage from the Tomato Festival and saw much of it could be recycled.
“I knew something had to be done,” Manzo said.
The Fairfield Main Street Association did no recycling for its events. As the association’s new executive director, Manzo was in a position to make a change.
Today, the Main Street Association recycles cardboard, paper, bottles, aluminum cans and food waste at the Tomato Festival and farmers market events.
The program has worked so well that the Main Street Association has won a Fairfield Green Business Award. Other winners are the Birchwood Apartments, Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity ReStore and the Travis School District’s Travis Elementary School.
Winners are scheduled to be honored July 15 by the City Council.
The Main Street Association runs its recycling program with $10,000 annually in grant money. Money comes from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery through the Fairfield Public Works Department. Money also comes from Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District and Solano County.
Among other things, the grants pay for crews at the recycling stations to make sure only recyclable materials end up there. Otherwise, Manzo said, some people throw in garbage.
The program has reduced the amount of waste sent to the landfill from the Tomato Festival by 70 percent, Manzo said.
“Seventy percent is a huge number for a festival,” Manzo said.
The Main Street Association works with Republic Services, the former Solano Garbage Co., which provides toters and carts and picks up the recyclable materials.
Birchwood Apartments at 1890 Dover Ave. a year ago made a recycling bin available for its tenants. Things have gone well.
Manager Beverly Campbell estimated that 80 percent of tenants participate in the recycling program at the 110-unit complex. They take their cans, newspapers, cartons and boxes and dump them in the bin.
“It started out with a small dumpster,” Campbell said. “We immediately had to call for a bigger dumpster.”
Republic Services approached Birchwood Apartments about having a recycling program. Residents get reusable recycling bags to hold items they take to the recycling bin.
Campbell initially thought that items that cannot be recycled would end up in the bin. But that hasn’t been a problem.
“My tenants have been really, really good about making sure they don’t put garbage in that bin,” she said.
Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity opened its ReStore in 2011 at 104 Commerce Court in Fairfield.
ReStore recycles the kitchen sink and then some. It’s a place where people can come to buy used cabinets, power tools, sinks and other donated home improvement items, many of them used.
The store recently launched its “deconstruction” program that removes unwanted items from homes and businesses doing remodeling. All of this gives items a second life and keeps them out of the landfill.
Money benefits Habitat for Humanity projects to build homes for low-income residents.
Travis Elementary School won a Green Business Award for the food waste recycling program it began in October 2013. The school had a 49 percent diversion rate in March.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.