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What Am I Doing? Sorting Trash

Original post made by Trashsorter on Sep 15, 2009

OK, has anyone figured out a clean and space saving method to handle trash with the new PGS sorting requirements? My small kitchen cannot fit 3 bins plus the rules are confusing I can't yet figure out how to get my kids to comply with their trash. Don't even mention sorting bathroom trash please!

Seems like the consumers are in a squeeze when the manufacturers should be helping on the front end to solve this problem. More recyclable packaging, less packaging (costco?), labled packaging as to which sort (scraps/recycle/general waste).

Any suggestions appreciated. . .I want to get on this train but need help!

Comments (33)

Posted by Billie, a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:54 am

Luckily, we have until Oct. 1 to figure something out - that's when I was told the new plan would actually start.

The first thing I did was to call PGS and get on the list for a 35-gallon recycle cart; I'm switching my trash can out to a 35-gallon one at the same time so I can actually, maybe, fit 3 carts by my house.

Inside, I just got an oblong kitchen trash can and I think I'm going to fit two trash bags in it - one at the front and one at the back - one for trash and one for recycle items. I can use my left over "blue bags" for the recycle bag. I may try the little green bin the city gave us awhile back under my sink to collect the smaller recycle items.

For the wet, food stuff that goes in the green cart, I use one of those plastic ice cream tubs to collect it when I need to. I have a small kitchen, and the tub is smaller than the little green bin.

It will be trial and error for awhile.

Posted by m, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2009 at 12:29 pm

weeeellll!!! I've been involuntarily put in the garbage sorting business. I guess I'll start by redesigning my kitchen to accommodate the sorting space required ... then of course, the smell that generates from keeping all the garbage in my kitchen ... and of course, then my male chore of taking the garbage out once a day to three times a day ... yes ... progress is so great with such great architects at the City level thinking this out so profoundly!!!!

Posted by recycling, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm

While the concept of recycling may be new to you it's not a new idea. In fact, Pleasanton is the LAST remaining city/area in Alameda county to implement this program. Yes, it will require you to change the way you dispose of your 'garbage' but you'll soon be used to it and forget what it was like to just throw everything away. I'm not so sure dragging multiple trash/recycle bins inside your house is the best way to do this - I choose the garage for 'things that don't smell' and outside for 'things that might smell' already and this is just another 'things that don't smell' can for the gararge as far as I'm concerned. Yes, it will rob me of a couple more square feet of garage space but I usually have that much recyclable 'junk' in the garage anyway.

I've lived elsewhere where they've implemented these programs and was surprised to see Pleasanton so behind the times with respect to recycling. About time we caught up with at least the rest of the county.

Web Link

Posted by Instruct me, a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 15, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I need instructions and until I get them with specifics, well then, everything looks recyclable to me. Dirty diapers, anyone. They made my garbage can a recycle can and put a sticker with pictures on it, but they haven't brought me a new garbage can. Is rubber recyclable ? What if the waste doesn't have a "recycle symbol 1-7" on it garbage even if it looks recyclable?

Posted by recycling, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm

to instruct me:

my new recycling can (delivered today) has a chart with three pictures on it. one of each of the three cans (recycling, yard waste, garbage). Under these pictures it clearly states what CAN and CANNOT be placed in each of the cans.

Posted by Original Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:01 pm

To "recycling"....I don't know how long you have lived here, but Pleasanton is not "behind the times". We have payed higher rates to have our garbage "recycled" at the refuse site and now the city is requiring us to do it AND we are still paying HIGHER rates. "Going Green" has more than one meaning.

Posted by Instruct me, a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I did not get that, maybe they are still working it all out and that's why I have NO garbage can.

Posted by Grace, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I'm glad that the program is going into effect; I think it will end up making everyone a little more conscious about the amount of packaging waste that we buy and generate. Having the bins outside or in the garage doesn't solve the more immediate question that was originally asked - where to stage the different categories in your kitchen. If you have a modest-sized kitchen, as we do in these older homes, with not huge numbers of cabinets and pantries - where to put it so that you're not having to run out to the side yard or garage multiple times a day with armloads of recyclables.

I was looking around online and found a few solutions from the Container Store:

Web Link

Web Link

Our blue can hasn't arrived yet, so I'm still figuring out the best way to deal with the sorting as well.

Posted by Cliff Jumper, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm

"I've lived elsewhere where they've implemented these programs and was surprised to see Pleasanton so behind the times with respect to recycling. About time we caught up with at least the rest of the county."

Just because all your friends jump off a cliff doesn't mean it's a smart thing to do.

Posted by recycling, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Original Joe, you're correct - I forgot that we were having people do our 'dirty work' for us - but most of the country and all of the county doesn't do it like this anymore. Ironically the PGS website still touts the current method (pretty much just throw everything away and let someone sort through it) as the most economical method as well as the best way to ensure compliance but apparently the party is over.

Instruct Me, I'm confused about why you don't have a regular garbage can - perhaps there's more to the story but I don't see what getting this new recycling can has to do with you no longer having a garbage can. I'll take the leap and assume you are trying to swap to a smaller size and are in between right now... Maybe that's an issue to call PGS about. As far as not getting the instructions along with a new recycling can you can also ask them (PGS) but my instructions were attached to the new black bin with the blue-ish top, left near my driveway this AM.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

The only ones "behind the times" were the ones who didn't know that Pleasanton Garbage Service used to sort the trash. Now we'll have a "dirty stream" of waste that won't get sorted to ensure that all divertable material is indeed diverted and we'll be more prone to thiefs stealing recylcable material out of our cans.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

It seems that if you're keeping your large size trash can, you get a new recycle can. If you are switching to the smaller size trash can, you get a new small size trash can and your old large can gets "converted" to the recycle can. That way PGS can raise their rates, but keep costs down by not having to buy new recycle cans for everyone.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Indeed I'm somewhat curious to know the difference in how much divertable material is diverted when the trash company sorts the waste compared to when the consumers sort the waste and what doesn't get diverted when the trash company no longer sorts 100% of their picked up material. I can't imagine much of a difference. Do PGS trucks run on bio-diesel yet?

Posted by recycling, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Cliff Jumper, I concur, but that's not really the point of switching. The purported reason is cost savings and they claim that rates will go up even MORE if we continue things as we do. Who knows for sure... They'll most likely continue to go up either way. Sometimes when you try to swim against the current it doesn't work out. CA also pays more for gas because we have to have a special blend than the rest of the country.

More than likely it's politics at the wheel rather than actually what's best for the customers or the environment.

Look - it's been a good ride of just throwing your junk in a black can and forgetting about it - but it's coming to an end whether we like it or not. Complaining about not having room for cans or proper instructions won't make it go away. There's not going to be a measure on any ballots for it.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 15, 2009 at 4:28 pm

We never completely fill the big black can - I'm keeping it and will put in it what I please! I do not have space for a recycling center in my kitchen! And, if I go through all the hassle, *I* will take the recycling myself and get paid for it.

Posted by Ruth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Recycling is great, but it sure bugs the heck out of me that we are having to pay more $$$ and doing more of the work.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 15, 2009 at 4:53 pm

When I moved to Pleasanton I called the Garbage company three times to "make sure" it was ok to throw everything into one bin. I grew up in San Jose and we had the multiple bins throughout my childhood.

Its really not all that difficult.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Ponderosa
on Sep 15, 2009 at 8:48 pm

To Pleasanton Parent:

I agree very much - it's really not all that difficult!

Maybe we weren't asked to do the work to recycle in Pleasanton in the past but we are more educated about the state of the environment now so you cannot use ignorance as an excuse. For all of you complaining, I realize most of you are probably adults who did not grow up with recycling but I am in my early 20s and did grow up with recycling. It is second nature now and I am surprised when I am somewhere - whether it is an office building or otherwise, that doesn't recycle. Make the effort, teach your kids, so that it also becomes second nature for them. It may not seem like you are making a big difference but everyone together can make an impact and think of what you are doing for the future of the environment your children will live in. Stop complaining, stop being lazy and just do it. It really isn't all that hard. If you can't figure this out, you would have a difficult time succeeding in school these days. Maybe your children can help you out!

Posted by Try it!, a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:10 pm

You should come by our school during lunch time, the kids sort all of their trash and have for a few years now. The classrooms recycle paper, water bottles, and ink. The fifth graders take a free trip to the Davis Street Transfer station every year. I attended with my child and the experience changed me! When you see how easy it is to prevent our landfills from being filled with recyclable materials, even the most pessimistic might be willing to change.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Try it!

When you say "our landfills" you mean Nevada's right? ;-)

Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2009 at 11:59 pm

PToWN94566 is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent, I'm assuming that you think all of our trash goes to some landfill in Nevada- completely incorrect. I'm not quite sure where the Tri-Valley's trash goes (if we have a landfill in addition to the dumps over off Valley), but I know of two landfills up off 101 near Petaluma. There's large signs that says so and if you drive out there you'll see a nice chunk of land, trees all around, then a couple of very large pits full of the crap that everyone tosses out.

I do agree that it's a nuisance and will cause some beginning problems, with people trying to figure it all out. In time it'll pass though. For some it'll be confusing and others it's just a hassle of following the instruction pamphlet thing. But just like every 'new' item we come across, we learn and make do.

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 16, 2009 at 2:50 am

I'm also without a "garbage can". Only have the "stickered can" and the "green can". Until the 35 gallon can arrives, guess where the "garbage" goes. If they can't get their act together and deliver all the required cans, my garbage goes in what I have available. I'm not in the business of storing garbage...

Posted by Senior Citizen, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 16, 2009 at 8:34 am

It's no big deal to me. I can't even imagine anyone keeping one of those barrels is the kitchen. I have used boxes in the garage to accumulate deposit plastic and glass items and others for just plain glass and newspapers. Periodically I take the boxes to the transfer station on Busch Ave.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 16, 2009 at 9:11 am

When I called PGS I was told there was no way to get a 35 gallon recycle bin with a 35 gallon garbage can. I explained there were only 2 of us and I had no room for 3 huge cans.....I was told there was only one combination - live with it. I told them I therefore would not be participating until there was a better solution - do not deliver a recycle bin to me.

I grew up in a city that has FREE garbage collection to this day as part of the city services. They will pick up anything. They've also had an extremely easy recycling system forever. Everyone uses their own crates/bins which works great for varying sized families. They are picked up by hand - and yes the city is the same size/population as Pleasanton. One week they pick up papers/plastic and the next week they pick up aluminum. In the current proposed system for Pleasanton - someone will still have to sort the what are we solving? I think once again the city council has acted hastily - without thinking through the issues and effects and we are to PAY (literally) once again. In the end we're getting more hassle, less service at a higher rate. I believe in recycling - but we could have solved this more easily and at the same cost. Why aren't we saving any money by this change to offset the huge increase in garbage rates. It's like pounding a square peg into a round hole.

Posted by Stephanie, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 16, 2009 at 9:23 am

To Resident:

Thanks for being lazy and unwilling to contribute to a better environment for my generation. That is very selfish of you. I don't know whether or not you have kids, but think of them. All these little things add up.

Maybe you could consider sharing a recycling can with a neighbor. If both cans are too big, maybe one of you could store the garbage can and the other could store the recycling. There are other solutions, you just have to be willing to change your routine a little bit, maybe make a little space, and before long, that will become your new routine.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 16, 2009 at 9:23 am

I don't understand the sorting in the kitchen that you all speak understanding is that all recyclable material goes in the one recyclable bin. Then it will just need to be sorted again at the transfer station - so what's the difference! I wonder how much the new recycling program is actually a benefit because for some time there has been an issue that barges full of recycled material has been floating on barges because no one needs to buy it. It used to be that we sold it to China but there's currently an excess of recycled material right now. Would PGS like to comment on how the recycled material will be sold/disposed of? Also, I have brought recycled material to the transfer station and received practically nothing off my bill. Why have our garbage rates increased dramatically for this program - but if we bring the same recycled material to the transfer station we get much less off the bill then they are charging us.....Any comments from PGS?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 16, 2009 at 9:35 am

Stephanie I'm sorry you feel that I'm being selfish/lazy....however you know nothing about me. I do not use processed foods - I will not purchase huge packaged goods on principle of the waste it creates and I often recycle completely on my own with newspapers, magazines, and plastic. I have never thought that the "picking of the recyclables" from the garbage made any sense. However, I do have the right to object when there is NO flexibility in a system that I am paying a lot of money for and that just increased dramatically. There are 2 sized bins offered but PGS is unwilling to give me 2 small cans because it's not what the city council voted for. These are their words not mine. So don't go judging me as lazy - you missed the point!

Posted by Billie, a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 16, 2009 at 10:45 am

As far as getting a 35-gallon recycle cart goes - you might want to call PGS again and ask to be put on the waiting list for one. That is, of course, only if you're planning on using curbside recycling. My understanding is that PGS is trying to get a feel for how many folks may want the smaller recycle cart (and garbarge cart) before they order them. I am waiting for mine, which should be delivered sometime in the next two weeks. The recycle cart that was delivered to me last Friday in anticipation of the new plan starting Oct 1 has already been picked up.

I also found out that my selection card was never received by PGS. And yes, before you say that there was no selection for a smaller recycle cart & garbage cart combo on the card, I know that; I had written my selection on the card.

While PGS was definitely limited by the plan that the City helped put together, I believe they are now trying to work with residents to make the plan a little more flexible. I've always found PGS a lot more helpful when I wasn't (Term removed as offensive for Town Square Forum) with the person taking my call - after all, that person really does "just work there"; they don't make policy, nor do they set the rates. I'm just sayin' . . .

Posted by Patricia, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 16, 2009 at 11:05 am

Patricia is a registered user.

It's a transition for all of us and hopefully by October we'll have figured it out. But to the question that was asked . . .

I bought a stainless steel compost bucket from back when we were told to put food waste in the green can (they have a huge selection). Since my family gardened and composted when I was a child, that hasn't been an issue. When I was growing up, my parents used cardboard milk cartons to put food waste in, then took it out to the compost pile after dinner was cleared. I prefer something with a cover that can go into the dishwasher so I don't get little fruit flies or any smell.

In other places I've lived, they've given us a square bin that was no bigger than a plastic kitchen garbage can. My parents in another state don't get one of those, so they just rinse stuff and run it out to the big recycling can as they use it. But they're retired and don't have a big family generating as much. I think I'll get a rubbermaid kitchen trash can to put next to my other garbage can so I can have the kids take it out at the end of the day.

I am still figuring out which plastic goes in recycling. The card says "narrow neck" plastic bottles with such-and-such numbers. But plastic cottage cheese & yogurt containers, for example, have the same numbers but aren't OK? What's that about?

Finally, anyone hoping to take your recycling to the Busch buy-back center is in for a surprise. For years, we've done that with all our glass, aluminum can and plastic soda bottles. We always got redemption value on anything with CRV marked on it (like beer and soda bottles & cans) and scrap glass prices for things without (like wine bottles and pickle jars). A few weeks ago, we were told they will no longer pay for scrap glass -- just CRV items. So now I'll be letting them sort those themselves. Way to discourage recycling, guys!

Posted by Happy to recycle, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Sep 16, 2009 at 11:44 am

I moved here where we had bins for glass,(any type) one for plastics (most plastics) one for paper or magazines. They all went to the street on the same day - recycle on one side of your driveway and trash (anything else- barrel). It's simple and smart.
The trash company comes by with a little train with separate sections and collects it all and I feel better not "stacking my cardboard and hauling it to dump. I like knowing that much more of it will be recycled.
I don't know if Pleasanton is using Naperville, Il's method but it was easy - we had different colored stacking bins for the garage - the smelly stuff went outside and usually was a LOT less after sorting. All this was 16 years ago. We've done it differently than other cities - not behind the times.
We should be worried about what we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. This should be as important as the healthcare debate.

Posted by Not A Trash Sorter, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Hosterman is crazy if she thinks she can pull Mayoral Thuggery on my household by raising the trash prices and making us "trash sorters" for an old out dated agreement by green extremists.

My household is NOT sorting ANYTHING.

Posted by One way, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 17, 2009 at 12:08 am

We moved here from a city that picked up recycle cans one week and trash the next week. This way, only the same about of fuel and personnel time was used.

We were surprised at no curbside recyling when we moved here.

We are going back to the old ways:

In the kitchen we keep a normal size rectangle trash can for paper from the mail, computer printer, and folded up food boxes.

We had a small space on the counter for the plastic, cans, and glass that need to go out. We walked them out to the garage each night where we stored that container immediately next to the door.

The smelling stuff got walked out to the compost bin each night.

A few more steps, but that's also good for you.

I noted on my street that every neighbor received a bin on Sunday afternoon and we did not. I called on Monday to learn that those who received bins did not elect to go down a smaller size....and the employee of PGS said they are going to be surprised at their rates. She mentioned only 6,000 people were electing a smaller bin.

The small regular trash will be delivered in two weeks and the current trash bin will be converted with stickers.

It's going to be interesting folks...and there is still going to be a need to hand sort to make the recyle groups 'clean' from unrecyleable items.

Posted by Fellow Recyler, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Our current garbage gets sorted at the Busch Recycling and Recovery Station. Once sorted and compacted, the trash gets trucked to the Altamont landfill where it is buried. You can access this site by driving on Grant Line Road. Palo Alto has been recycling for years. They have tri-colored bins that they leave on the street on pick-up days. The state has mandated that all cities reduce the amount of trash it produces.

We too did not receive an additional bin on Sunday even though we thought we signed up for the larger bin. The new recycling program will be a painful learning process but is something that needs to be done if we are to reduce the amount of garbage produced each week. Our children's future depends on reducing the amount of waste and natural resources used to produce packaging.

And yes I agree it is ridiculous to pay so much if we're doing the work ourselves.

There will still be sorting facilities to catch what was not sorted by each household.

Perhaps after the new program is implemented, the city (or PGS) will review the process and make changes for the betterment of all.

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