NEWPORT BEACH (Calif.) John Pope, spokesperson for Newport Beach has seen firsthand the challenges of messaging for COVID-19 over the two years he’s been with the company.
Now there’s a new challenge: convincing 30,000 households to recycle organic material instead of throwing it in trash.
What you need to know
- Newport Beach will spend $1.5 Million annually on the local rollout California’s organic waste programs
- The city started rollout February 1st and expects to deliver the new bins by March
- The new program is mandatory. However, some cities chose to defer the implementation for one year.
- The city spent approximately $50,000 on education and mailers for its residents
Sacramento issued a state mandate requiring cities to distribute green bins. These bins will be used alongside trash receptacles and recycling bins. The state has now imposed heavy fines on cities that refuse to comply with the mandate and has encouraged these municipalities to enforce the rules on their residents.
The reactions are mixed. Pope stated that the majority of people understand that this is a mandate from the state and is not being pushed by the city. It is rare to hear people say they don’t like it or don’t want them to participate. However, there are many people who see this as an important step to protect our environment.
Some cities have pushed back their rollout date a full year. Newport Beach rejected an extension request and implemented the program on February 1. Under Senate Bill 1383, the city receives 400 to 500 new bins per week.
This strategy reduces waste in overburdened landfills and attempts to curb greenhouse gases caused by rotting fruits, vegetables, and baked goods.
Landfills have been subject to increased pressure since some plastics were no longer being offloaded by counties in the state to Chinese buyers. This increased the need for additional space, which has accelerated the timeline for new landfills in certain counties.
Existing recycling rules are difficult to follow. Bottles are recyclable, but other items might not. You can recycle pizza boxes, but not if they are greasy. Many items have different numbers and symbols to help people make the right decision.
The new strategy is simpler. The new strategy asks customers to place coffee grounds, banana peels, and even greasy pizza boxes into the new bin.
New government programs that require behavior changes have steep learning curves. Some programs, like the new toll roads that take months to implement, come with stiff fines for violators.
Pope stated that education and outreach were a key component of the program. It was also important to get people to make a significant change in their behavior from what they have been doing.
Pope stated that the city has invested approximately $50,000 in education. This is in addition to a state campaign that includes mailers and a booklet along with the new receptacles.
Residents can put leaves and lawn clippings in the new bins. The new bins can be as big as 96 gallons or as small at 36 gallons. Pet waste is considered a contaminant under the program and should be thrown away.
Pope stated that there’s little change in the rules for organic waste bins. California does not sell organic waste, unlike other countries. Therefore, California will not have to adjust its policies based on international decisions.
Pope stated that the program was also successful in other cities.
This is a sign that it can work. He said that organics recycling can be made successful if the consumers are able to adapt over time.
Pope claimed that there has been very little opposition from residents. However city officials had to figure how to add $1.5 million to the budget in order to cover the annual program costs.
Will ONeill, Newport Beach City Council member, stated that a mandate that is not being paid for by state places a significant burden on the city. It shouldn’t be considered a crime to not toss a banana in the correct bin.
The city expects that the rollout for its green, organic trash bins will be completed by March 1.