by Canton Public Library (MI)
January 1, 1995 Edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune
by Sandra Dibble, Staff Writer
TIJUANA- San Diego and Tijuana want to turn trash into cash at a proposed binational recycling zone along the border at Otay Mesa.
The idea, expressed at a meeting here yesterday, is to entice recycling business to the border zone by offering them a huge supply of discarded stuff such as soda bottles, plastic, jugs, used tires and cardboard.
“We think that the two cities would create a (recycling) market that could effectively compete with the Los Angeles area”, said Gonzalo López, manager of the city of San Diego’s Office of International Trade and Technology.
“It opens up a lot of opportunities, ” Lopez added. “We think that we would not only benefit the environment, but create jobs in the process.”
Officials from San Diego and Tijuana discussed the proposal yesterday at a meeting of the Binational Planning and Cooperation Commitee, a group formed by the cities in April 1993 to promote joint projects.
The recycling project would get started with $ 340,000 that has been requested from the U.S. Congress.
Most of the money would help create a computerized data base to keep track of the different recycling commodities available in the Tijuana-San Diego region. San Diego, California and Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego are seeking $ 280,000 to establish the data base.
The $ 60,000 balance, requested by San Diego and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would be seed money to launch the binational recycling, market development zone at Otay Mesa.
Tijuana and San Diego, “have almost 40 percent of the population of the (US-Mexico) border” said Richard Hays, San Diego’s Director of Environmental Services. “Why not have a recycling development zone for both cities?”.
Hays said San Diego officials worked closely with their Tijuana counterpartsin developing the proposal. “It was done totally together, with both staffs”, Hays said, “We’ve been trying to reach a joint decision that is in the best interests of both” cities.
The zone could take advantage of relaxed import and export restrictions under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Hays said, and use waste products generated in Tijuana’s assembly plants.
The data base “would let both sides of the border know what recycling materials are available almost instantly”, he added.
Tijuana has had a recycling program since 1991 and currently recycles aluminium, glass, cardboard, paper, and plastic, said Marco Sarabia, Chief of Maintenance for the Baja California city. But Tijuana sometimes has problems finding buyers for the materials.
“Of what use is it for us to recycle if there is no one to buy the products? Sarabia asked.
“The fact of the matter is that many of the products that we generate here are used on the other side”, said Zefarino Sánchez, Tijuana’s Public Works Director, refering to the U.S. side of the border.
A recycling zone would not only generate jobs, he said, but also reduce Tijuana’s garbage disposal problem, saving money for the financially strapped city.
“We’d all come out winning.” Sánchez said.
By recycling its waste materials in the region, San Diego would save money on transportation, said San Diego’s López. “Everything has to go to Los Angeles now” he said, especially items made of glass. Tijuana and San Diego have been working together on a variety of iisues since the binational commitee was formed. Yesterday’s gathering brought together members of the panel’s environmental subcommittee for the annual meeting. Other subcommittees focus on culture and the arts, planning and land use, public works, economic development and public safety.
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