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Council hears about changes to garbage collection system
• City looks to go back to old policy of residents storing garbage cans out of view
Ceres garbage three can
This graphic supplied by the city of Ceres shows how residents will be asked to sort their garbage by can color effective with the introduction of the third can beginning on Jan. 1, 2022.

State mandates passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor are causing Ceres garbage rates to go up and the city to modify its agreement with the garbage collection company, Bertolloti Ceres Disposal.

Some of those changes include going to a three-can system for all households on Jan. 1, 2022.

Rates went up from $19 per month to $25.55 on Jan. 1, for the first since 2012. On Sept. 1 it goes up to $31 per month.

Part of the rate increase is to finance Bertolloti purchase the 12,000 new Toters required when the city goes to a third can; as well as finance two new trucks that must be purchased.

Commercial accounts saw a 7 percent increase in rates, mostly to help Bertolotti cover the costs of processing recyclable materials. 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.

Last week, Damas gave a brief overview of all the bills streaming out of Sacramento which are burdening cities and taxpayers alike. One such bill was passed in 1989, AB 939, which forces cities to reduce their waste stream by 50 percent. 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.

Another bill is AB 341 which requires businesses and public agencies which generate four cubic yards or more of waste per week to arrange for recycling services to divert 75 percent of the waste stream away from landfills. Targeted is food waste, green waste, landscaping and pruning waste and other non-hazardous waste. Businesses may haul themselves, or arrange for pickup of recyclable materials. Such diversions have to be audited which caused businesses to deal “with a significant amount of paperwork,” said Damas.

Senate Bill 1383, called the “Short Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy” aims to reduce organic waste by 50 percent by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025. The law affects the lives of all Californians.

“It has significant policy and legal implications for state and local agencies,” said Damas. “The regulations take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.”

The new law also sets up an edible food recovery program.

“We will be required by Cal Recycle to procure recycled organic waste products,” said Damas. “So what that means is that whatever percentage of tonnage that we gives, Cal Recycle’s going to have a website produced that all agencies are going to have to procure a percentage of that back, whether it’s in compost, natural gases, paper products, whatever the case may be.”

Fast-food restaurants will be affected by AB 827 which requires containers to be provided to customers to sort out organics and recycling materials. Chipotle has been doing this practice for years. Full-service sit-down restaurants do not fall under the same regulations but they must provide labeled containers next to the trash can for staff to use.

The city is in the process of implementing the three-can garbage can system.

“We need to have an aggressive education and outreach campaign,” Damas told the council.

New state recycling laws gives cities the option of going with a two-can system such as Modesto. 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. Under a two-can system, Bertolotti would 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. Under the three-can system, recyclables like cardboard, phone books, junk mail, magazines and newsprint, brown paper bags, glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans, plastic containers, office paper, empty aerosol cans and certain plastics go into the blue can. The new green can will be for organic wastes like grass clippings, shrub clippings, weeds, garden waste, leaves, twigs and smaller diameter limbs, coffee grounds, fruit, watermelon rinds, leftover foods, meat, paper towels and plates and small pieces of wood. The black or grey can will be for household waste that doesn’t belong in either the organic or recycling cans.

AB 1826 mandates businesses to recycle organics. It will require the cities to conduct “audits” of a small percentage of garbage cans. He said that means the city will have to take random cans, dump the contents on a concrete slab and if it’s being sorted improperly or contaminated. That information then gets reported to Cal Recycle.

“For example, if you were to put recyclables in a plastic bag before placing them into the blue collection cart, the plastic bag would be considered a contaminant.”

Damas addressed illegal dumping which has increased dramatically in Ceres in past years. The new laws allow the city to act enact fines to help offset the costs of cleanup.

The city is trying to retain the popular leaf and limb program on a seasonal basis from Oct. 1 through Jan. 9. The current program will end on Jan. 9, 2022 but begin again on Oct. 1, 2022.

“We’re going to be looking at trying to continue that service year round,” said Damas. “We need to get through the first quarter or first half of the next year with the organics program to see where we are and then we’ll make a determination at that point.”

The green can will be able to accept the leaves, shrub clippings and smaller tree limbs that many now set at their curb for the leaf and limb program.

The city will be required to enforce the new laws and penalize those who fail to contaminate waste. He also said that Bertolotti should not be picking up Toters where the lid cannot close because of too much waste, adding, “It’s against Cal Recycle rules so we have to start enforcing that a little bit more.”

Habitual offenders will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, he said.

New language to the Ceres Municipal Code is being proposed to make residents, once again, be required to place their waste containers screened behind a fence or out of view when it’s not time to place them out for collection.

The code will also be updated to allow the city to enforce pilfering and scavenging violations.

Ceres resident Mark Price expressed dismay over the state mandates.

“We’re going to assume that every citizen in the city puts the right stuff in the right can, correct?” Price queried Damas. “I can’t do my own laundry right and I’m going to have to do my trash can correct.”

Damas said each can will be affixed with a list of what should go into each can.

John Warren complained that residents will have to have three cans inside their house to sort their waste properly.

“We’re not writing citations or enforcing some of our really important issues – at least some of us think we’re not – but now we’re going to start giving people garbage tickets because they got the peanut butter jar in the wrong container, their grass in the wrong thing … you can see the point,” said Warren. “It seems a bit much.”

Dave Pratt commented that his daughter in Tacoma has four cans. 

John Osgood suggested that the city ignore their mandates and commented that local garbage is incinerated.

Gene Yeakley said citizens aren’t even staying educated on existing ordinances and ignore them.

“How are you going to educate people who don’t to be educated?” said Yeakley. He said the city should hold a town hall meeting to go over the city’s expectation in following rules.