In California, recycling and waste management are shared responsibilities between the State, local jurisdictions, and the waste and recycling industry. In light of recent changes to recycling markets, jurisdictions and their industry partners are taking steps to encourage waste prevention, reduce contamination of recyclable materials, and improve post-collection processing.
The diversity of responses to National Sword demonstrates the complexity of the problem in California, where recycling and waste management often varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Some material recovery facilities are hiring more workers and slowing down sorting lines to reduce contamination before baling recyclables for export. Jurisdictions are implementing educational campaigns to reduce contamination at the generator-level.
- Group of California businesses and organizations support The California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act of 2020, a ballot initiative to curb plastic pollution through the reduction of non-recyclable single use packaging and foodware and a Plastic Pollution Reduction Fee on producers.
- In their new contract with hauler Greenwaste, the city of Palo Alto requires the company to gather information about the environmental and social impacts associated with the full life-cycle of the city’s recyclable materials. This includes providing information about the primary purchasers of all paper and plastics, final use of all material, and potential risk for human rights and/or environmental violations at the location where any material purchasers are located.
- Rising curbside collection rates are increasingly difficult to attribute to only National Sword and its effect on scrap value. Jurisdictions also cite rate increases on other factors like rising labor costs, fuel costs, new infrastructure and compliance with SB 1383. Some of the jurisdictions that have announced rate increases for curbside collection include: Napa, Fairfield, San Ramon, California City, Hesperia, Unincorporated San Mateo County, Unincorporated El Dorado County, Needles, Cambria, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Oceanside, Manteca, San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, and Monterey (not a comprehensive list).
- Amador County will soon have to pay a $160/ton processing charge for recyclables delivered to their processor, a drastic shift from the $33/ton of revenue they are currently receiving.
- San Jose is renegotiating its contracts with solid waste haulers and is exploring methods to encourage residences and businesses to produce less waste.
- San Diego’s hauler requests suspension of all revenue payments and charge for materials received from the city instead.
- Grass Valley City Council approved an annual rate increase for garbage collection service.
- City of Fremont increasing residential garbage bills by $1.50 a month to cover additional sorting and processing costs.
- Nevada City will charge a fee to residents and businesses who receive multiple recycling contamination violations. So far, giving residents a warning has led to a reduction in their bin’s contamination.
Incentives and Events
- City of Vallejo has begun the fourth year of their recycling reward program that awards residential and commercial recycling customers a year of free garbage service or a discount for properly sorted recycling and trash bins.
- StopWaste (Alameda County) is convening a regional task force to share information, plan public outreach responses and produce recommendations for changes to local recycling programs. The task force includes recycled commodity brokers, local haulers/processors, facility operators and government officials. They have released a recycling messaging and graphics bank to help jurisdictions communicate with the public about recycling.
- South Bayside Waste Management Authority is hosting a “Rethink Recycling Day” and offering facility tours, and other recycling and reuse activities.
- City of Victorville and Burrtec partner for Victorville Recycles Week to host a school competition that encourages good recycling habits.
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