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EYE ON OUR ENVIRONMENT | FAQs on food scrap collecting – VC Reporter
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EYE ON OUR ENVIRONMENT | FAQs on food scrap collecting – VC Reporter


David Goldstein

Information meant for one city residents is seen by other cities. New programs can be confusing, so I received several inquiries over the last two weeks about new residential food scrap collection programs.

Here is a list of some of the most popular questions.

What is the purpose of this new program?

California’s legislature passed Senate Bill 1383 in 2014 to combat climate change. It also sets deadlines for counties and cities to implement, monitor, facilitate, and enforce programs to reduce organics landfilling. Organics include anything that was once live, including yard clippings, food, and even food. Organics that are not oxygenated in landfills can produce methane emissions which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Organics degrading in aerated compost facilities emit far less.

Is curbside food scrap recycle available in my locality?

Programs have been implemented by cities, counties and haulers. If you have any questions about whether the program is available, you can call the number on the refuse bill. The call center staff will ask you for your address and provide information specific to your area.

Should I bag my food scraps

Residents living in cities served by Harrison Industries should place food scraps in bags and place them in yard waste carts (now called organics carts).

Oxnard residents must also bag food scraps in their yard waste/organics carts.

Residents in Athens Services cities and Waste Management/GI cities are asked to stop using bags. Food scraps should go directly into organics bags.

Where is it composted

Bag-based programs in areas are used to keep food separate from yard clippings, lumber, and yard trimmings so that haulers can continue to take material to local compost sites like the Agromins Limoneira facility near Santa Paula or Shoreline facility at Ormond beach.

Ventura County has not yet issued a permit to compost food waste. All food scraps, yard clippings and other food scraps that are contaminated must be taken out of the county to be composted. Kern County is home to the most popular destinations.

Agromin anticipates that its Limoneira facility will soon be issued permits for food scrap recycling. However, it could take almost two years to upgrade the site to meet mandated standards. Agromin will open its Mountain View Food Waste Processing Facility in Oxnard later this year. The facility will mash commercial and residential food waste and send it to other places to be used for animal feed, bioenergy, or compost.

What is the estimated cost of this?

Santa Paula and Thousand Oaks are two examples of cities that have recently negotiated contracts with refuse hauling companies. These rates already include organics recycling.

Haulers for other cities have been able to implement food collection without increasing rates. However, this extra recycling is costly and could affect future rates. About 30% of the residential waste stream comes from yard clippings. It was once relatively easy to recycle yard clippings and lumber at the local compost sites. Bags must now be pulled from the mix in certain cases and food-contaminated loads must also be taken to distant compost sites.

The bag program’s success is one of the keys to reducing costs in the areas where it is implemented. Three violations by inspectors could lead to a facility being required to obtain a full solid-waste facility permit if food is found in excess of 1% of the loads at sites that are authorized to handle yard clippings or lumber.

Costs may fall eventually when Agromins Limoneira starts accepting yard waste along with food waste. Bags will no longer be expensive and hauling distances will be reduced by the availability of local facilities.

Who is going to buy all of this compost?

Farmers must balance the cost of spreading compost and the purchase price against the agronomic benefits. Therefore, farms cannot expect to buy enough to meet demand. California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, CalRecycle, has set ambitious procurement goals for cities and county, which require extensive purchases of compost, mulch, and bioenergy to increase supply in the future.

Locally produced compost and mulch can help residents keep costs down and increase organics recycling.

David Goldstein, a Resource Management Analyst at the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached by calling 805-658-4312 [email protected].


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