Several years ago, the City of San Jose enlisted a consultant to help them understand the extent of illegal dumping throughout their communities. After finding substantial increases in the number of incidents and amount of material, the Environmental Services Department created the RAPID (Removing and Preventing Illegal Dumping) team. San Jose uses the payments received through MRC’s California Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative to partially fund it. This enables RAPID to focus on completing clean up assignments and implementing preventative measures. Between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, RAPID cleaned over 14,000 illegal dump sites in San Jose.
RAPID was created in July 2016 with four team members, and four more people were added to the crew in July 2017. RAPID consolidates illegal dumping information received by other City departments and streamlines how residents inform the City of an incident. Prior to its implementation, each department responded independently. This made reporting illegal dumping confusing for residents. Now there is a unified response – call, go online, or use the My San Jose app.
Joining Mattress Recycling Council’s Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative came naturally, since the City’s Environmental Services Department already collects illegal dumping data. Through their participation in MRC’s initiative, they can partially fund the RAPID team.
“Being part of this program has helped San Jose because mattresses are being recycled and the compensation goes back to those who are out there cleaning up our community,” said Anna Szabo, Enforcement & Regulations Supervisor with San Jose’s Integrated Waste Management Division.
Anna and her team collect critical data such as the type of debris, where it was dumped, when an assignment was received and when it was completed in a database. This has helped the City to identify illegal dumping hot spots and proactively monitor them, and develop new outreach tactics. It also makes reporting their mattress data to MRC simple. A spreadsheet is copied and pasted each month, and in 2017 San Jose reported over 4,300 illegally dumped mattresses to the MRC.
“I would encourage other jurisdictions to track as much data as possible, since it can be used to inform program and outreach decisions,” said Anna.
If you would like to join California’s Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative, contact Mark Patti.