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Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

To Sort Up To 35 Tons Of Recyclables A Day, This Bakersfield Facility Relies On A Unique Labor Force

On the campus of the Bakersfield ARC, employees can work in a number of places, but one of the noisiest is the material recovery facility. It’s where about half of the city’s recycling is sorted by material. “On a daily average, we do anywhere from 28 to 35 tons a day,” says Andres Lopez, the Recycling Division Manager at Bakersfield ARC. “So we're doing a good chunk of the city's material.” Just outside the warehouse, contents from the city’s blue bins have been dumped. A conveyor belt...

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Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In a loading dock in northeast Fresno, two men pull up to the warehouse at Saint Agnes Medical Center in a white moving van. They meet a contract coordinator with the hospital named Heather Ritter, who pulls out a clipboard and asks them to sign a form. “As is, no warranty, no service, you know the drill,” she says. “And no charge, how's that!”

Fresno Department of Public Utilities Instagram

Do you know what can and can’t be recycled? Which bin do you use for your Starbucks cups, your wrapping paper or your greasy pizza box? We wondered, where does everyone go to find these answers? So we sat down with the expert behind Fresno’s Public Utilities Instagram, Xitlaly Ocampo. Ocampo takes questions through the account about what can and can't be recycled, and reminds the public about things like where to recycle batteries, or whether a Christmas tree goes in the green bin.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

On the campus of the Bakersfield ARC, employees can work in a number of places, but one of the noisiest is the material recovery facility. It’s where about half of the city’s recycling is sorted by material.

“On a daily average, we do anywhere from 28 to 35 tons a day,” says Andres Lopez, the Recycling Division Manager at Bakersfield ARC. “So we're doing a good chunk of the city's material.”

Alice Daniel /

Neighborhood Industries is a social enterprise. It takes a market-driven approach to business coupled with a non-profit mission to care for the environment and help people in need.

It all starts with too much stuff. The company will pick up your used clothes, stained T-shirts, old rags, ripped jeans, electronics, broken vacuum cleaners, and even random wires.  

“We have routes that service Fresno specifically. But we also service about 320, 330 donation bins between Bakersfield and Sacramento,” says CEO Anthony Armor.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Valley Public Radio gets trashy. Do you ever think about what happens to all of your garbage and recyclables? Well, some California cities are getting creative. And what about all of that ridiculous stuff piling up in your garage? There’s a company that wants it.  

We also explore a recycling program in Bakersfield with some novel - and controversial - labor practices.

Plus: Why is so much medical equipment thrown out before it’s expired? A Clovis organization is repurposing supplies from this enormous industry.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The state of California on Thursday greenlighted a suite of energy projects to serve the San Joaquin Valley, for a total investment of over $56 million.

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved almost a dozen pilot projects to improve energy infrastructure in 11 disadvantaged communities across the Valley.

Courtesy of Anna Armstrong

Leading up to the November election, forecasters predicted that Republican incumbent  David Valadao would win the 21st Congressional District. The District includes all of Kings County, and parts of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern Counties.

It wasn’t until last week, as vote counts were finalized, that the race was decided in favor of Democrat TJ Cox. “We kind of flagged it as a potential upset,” says Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “That said, I ultimately was pretty surprised that Valadao ended up losing.”

Syrian American Medical Society

Ever since the Arab Spring in 2011, the Middle Eastern country of Syria has been in a near-constant state of civil war. As a result, residents there rely heavily on aid workers from non-governmental organizations for medical care. And the president of one of those NGOs, the Syrian American Medical Society, lives right here in Fresno.

Dorothea Lange / Library of Congress

While some valley congressional districts flipped from red to blue, much of the state’s remaining republican strongholds are still in the San Joaquin Valley -- particularly Kern, Madera and Tulare Counties. This has a lot to do with the Dust Bowl, and the migrants who came to California in the 1920s and 30s. In fact, there’s a link between support for Republican candidates in the 2018 midterms and the degree to which a county’s population came from Dust Bowl states.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In Fresno County, around 10 percent of all babies are born before 37 weeks of gestation. That’s higher than the national average, and among the highest of all California counties. For African-Americans, the numbers are even more concerning: From 2013 to 2015, black babies were 63 percent more likely to be born premature than white babies. But a new program in Fresno is trying to bring those numbers down by teaching women not just about health, but also about leadership and advocacy.

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