An Incentive That's Hard To Refuse
Berkeley's Best Recyclers to Receive Cash Rewards
Chip Johnson / SF Chronicle 11jan01
Oakland -- If you live in Berkeley, you're trash ain't nothing but cash.
From the first week in February through mid-July, recycling specialists from the city's ecology center will wade through the trash of about 38,000 households to ferret out the city's best recycler.
Once a week, the city will randomly select a trash can from a single family dwelling or an apartment building with nine units or less.
If no recyclable material is found, residents will be awarded with a cash prize of $250. Residents with just a few items will win $50. A total of $6,500 will be awarded.
The last time the city held the contest, in 1988, the money kept rolling over until one Berkeley resident won $4,000, which was particularly satisfying to the ecology staff because the person really needed the cash.
Now in another era, anyone but a certified waste management specialist seen going through someone's trash in Berkeley could spark a privacy rights demonstration at City Hall or start a rumor that the FBI is back in town.
In order to allay any concerns about a revival of domestic counterintelligence, announcements will be sent out prior to the start of the contest and recycling checkers will obtain written permission when a resident's trash is selected.
People who don't want to participate can sign a form to be excluded.
The goal of the contest, of course, is to raise awareness about recycling in a city that met the goal of a state law that requires California cities to recycle 50 percent of its waste materials by 2000.
Berkeley achieved the target goal in 1999, said Tania Levy, an analyst in the city's solid waste division.
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