ReGen (its new name) receives more than 250 tons of recyclables each day. Human hands still play a crucial role in processing—in this case, sorting to separate the most valuable plastics for resale.

This is not your grandparents' dump. And the change in scope as well as name reflects that. 

The Monterey Peninsula Garbage and Refuse Disposal District was founded in 1951 with what now sounds like an incredibly outdated mission: give the public one sanitary place to dispose of trash, which previously went anywhere, including directly into the ocean or getting burned on the beach. Its early years have been described by former General Manager Tim Flanagan as "really just a small hole in the ground." 

With a shift in understand waste streams and how waste is tied into other environmental factors came a new name, Monterey Regional Waste Management District. And now there is a third evolution in mission and in name: ReGen Monterey. 

“We’re planning for a future in which waste is no longer seen as an unavoidable problem that we just have to manage,” spokesperson Zoë Shoats said in a statement. “After all, there’s no waste in nature, because nature continually regenerates itself. Our new name and logo express our commitment to making progress ever closer to that standard.”

Similarly, ReGen's neighbor in Salinas—now known as Salinas Valley Recycles—started out as the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority in 1997, taking on responsibility for managing two former county-run landfills and a city of Salinas-run landfill. 

Salinas Valley Recycles' mission is "to reduce the amount of waste by promoting individual and corporate responsibility, to recover waste for its highest and best use while balancing rates and services, to transform our business from burying waste to utilizing waste as a resource, AND to eliminate the need for landfills."

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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