State laws regarding recycling and organics are prompting the city to increase rates and renew its 10-year-old contract with garbage hauler Bertolotti Ceres Disposal.
Some of those changes include going to a three-can system for all households on Jan. 1, 2022. The proposed fee hike will trigger a protest hearing under Prop. 218 likely held this November and would take place beginning on Jan. 1, 2021.
Also proposed is a 7 percent increase in rates for commercial accounts. Much of that increase is to help Bertolotti cover the costs of processing recyclable materials. The rate increase will be the first for the company since 2012.
Public Works Director Jeremy Damas said that recyclables were worth something several years ago but now it’s costing the company $60 per ton for disposal of recyclable materials.
Currently residential garbage collection rates in Ceres are $21.16 per month, which includes a $16.90 garbage fee, $1.74 fee for recyclables and $2.52 for organics and a small portion for street sweeping dumping, and the leaf and limb and bulky item programs. Those rates will increase to $25.55 per month this fall, which includes an extra $1 per month to cover the city’s costs of cleaning up and disposing of illegal dumping. The new charge is one of the recommendations of the new Beautification Committee, an idea prompted by Councilman Channce Condit.
In September 2021 the rates would jump to $31 per month for garbage service. Damas said that second rate increase would be timed with the end of the leaf-and-limb program in exchange of a third waste-wheeler.
Under the three-can system, recyclables like cardboard, phone books, magazines and newsprint, brown paper bags, glass bottles and jars, plastic containers, office paper, empty aerosol cans and certain plastics go into the blue can. The green can will be for the deposit of organic wastes like yard and garden waste, lawn clippings, leaves, limbs, coffee grounds, fruit, leftover foods, meat, paper towels and plates and small pieces of wood. The black can will be for household waste that doesn’t belong in either the organic or recycling cans.
The fee increase would help Bertolotti hire more staff, buy more equipment and purchase 12,000 new Toters for Ceres residents.
Damas said the proposed rates are comparable rates to what other cities are charging.
Mayor Chris Vierra asked how people will be able to cram all of their leaves and limbs and yard waste into a limited container each week. Damas replied: “You’d be surprised – it’s been done. Manteca has been pretty successful for a lot of years. Modesto’s doing a lot of it as well as curbside (pickup). It’s just a challenge.”
Damas said residents will still have the option of using the bulky item pick-up service as well as haul tree branches and trunks to the Bertolotti transfer station themselves.
Under the changes, anyone cutting up a tree and placing it at the curbside will be deemed an illegal dumper and asked to deal with it. If not the city would be forced to clean it up.
When receiving confirmation that the new state laws are effectively an “unfunded mandate that’s been handed down to us by the state of California Legislature,” Councilman Channce Condit called the move “unfortunate.”
Mayor Vierra went on record as not supporting the state legislation aimed to curb what goes to the landfills.
“In light of all the people that are hurting now we’re going to implement something else that the state’s infinite wisdom thinks is in our best interests,” said Vierra. “There’s a lot of things the state does that I’m not real happy with.”
Bertolotti Ceres Disposal has provided solid waste collection services in Ceres since June 1971 and has worked closely with the city in developing and implementing special solid waste collection, recycling, and organics programs.
New state recycling laws gives cities the option of going with a two-can system such as Modesto has. Under that system, household waste goes in one can while the green container accepts all recycled materials like grass clippings, green waste, cardboard and paper. Bertolotti would then have to take the recycling container to a separating facility and then haul it again which would increase costs “tremendously,” said Damas.
The other option is a three-can system.
The contract with Bertolotti must be changed with adoption of Assembly Bills 939, (California Integrated Waste Management Act), 341, (Mandatory Commercial Recycling), 1826, (Mandatory Organics Recycling) and Senate Bill 1383, (Organic Waste Reduction).
Damas said Ceres is diverting only about 15 percent of its waste to recycling, a far cry from the 50 percent required by state law.
“We just need to get in front of the residents and do some education,” said Damas.
AB 341 requires businesses and public agencies which generate four cubic yards of waste or more a week to arrange for recycling services. That includes food waste, green waste, landscaping and pruning waste and other non-hazardous waste. Businesses can haul themselves, or arrange for pickup of recyclable materials. Such diversions have to be audited.
By 2025 California households have to reduce organic waste disposal by 75 percent. Damas said the law enacts fines. Regulations take effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Fast food restaurants will be affected by AB 827 which requires containers be provided for organics and recycling materials. Full-service restaurants do not fall under the same regulations but they must provide labeled containers next to the trash can for staff to use.
Damas said the city and Bertolotti will have to audit all commercial accounts and determine if each one generates more than four cubic yards of organic waste per month. If not, they are exempt. If they do, said Damas, the city will have to meet with and educate the business owners or managers. The city also plans to develop a series of public outreach materials.