Information intended for residents of one city can be seen by residents of other cities. New programs are confusing so I have received many inquiries over the past two week about new residential food scrap collection program.
Here are some of the most frequently asked 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 disposal. 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 there curbside food scrap recycling in my area?
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 staff at the call center will ask for your address to give you specific information about 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 are asked not to use bags in cities that are served by Athens Services or cities that are served by Waste Management/GI. You should place food scraps directly in organics carts.
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 taking material into 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 for recycling. Kern County is home to the most popular destinations.
Agromin expects its Limoneira facility, which is licensed for food scrap recycling to be granted soon. However, it could take nearly two more years to get the site up to current standards. Agromin plans to open its Mountain View Food Waste Processing Facility, Oxnard, in the meantime. The facility will process residential and commercial food wastes, then send it to other locations to make animal feed or bioenergy.
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 in other cities have managed to implement food collection with no rate increases. However, this added recycling is costly and will likely affect rates in the future. About 30% of residential waste stream is made up of yard clippings. It used to be relatively cheap to recycle the lumber and clippings 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.
One key to lowering costs in areas that implement the bag program is the success of the program. Three violations could lead to the requirement that the facility obtain a full solid waste facility permit if inspectors discover that food exceeds 1% at sites allowed to handle only yard trimmings and lumber.
Costs may fall eventually when Agromins Limoneira starts accepting yard waste along with food waste. For some, the cost of hauling bags will end and there will be a local facility that will reduce hauling distances.
Who will buy all this compost?
Farmers have to balance the cost of spreading the compost and the purchase price. This means that farms can’t expect to buy enough to satisfy 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.
By purchasing locally grown mulch and compost, residents can lower public costs and reap the benefits of increasing organics recycling programs.
David Goldstein, a Resource Management Analyst at the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached by calling 805-658-4312 [email protected].