Pleasanton launches new curbside garbage recycling program | April 10, 2009 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 10, 2009

Pleasanton launches new curbside garbage recycling program

Rates to rise, but only by $1.09 if residents keep non-recyclable waste to a minimum

by Jeb Bing

The City Council Tuesday gave its unanimous approval to a more extensive curbside refuse recycling program that will parallel what many cities in the country are already doing: requiring residents to sort out their recyclable materials from all other garbage instead of having the Pleasanton Garbage Service do it for them.

The new service also will cost more, jumping by $1.09 a month for those who cut back on sending non-recyclable waste to the garbage collector, to as much as 14 percent more for those who don't.

The new rates approved by the council will be increased from $28.04 to $29.13 a month for those opting for a smaller 35-gallon general refuse cart to $34.57 a month for a larger 96-gallon cart, which is the same size as the all-purpose carts residents now have. These will be used for all refuse that is not recyclable, such as broken glass, used pizza cartons and plastics that don't meet recyclable standards.

In addition to the all-purpose refuse cart, residents also will be given a 96-gallon cart for recyclables only. These will be used for materials clearly capable of being recycled, including cardboard, aluminum foil and plastic bags, aluminum, steel and tin cans, glass jars and bottles of all colors, and plastic bottles with the numbers 1 to 7 printed on the bottom, including most water bottles.

Residents will keep the 64-gallon carts they now use for grass clippings and other yard debris. Coffee grounds and other food scraps that are not usually flushed through sink disposers can also be placed in these smaller carts. However, a small, under-the-sink plastic bucket that Pleasanton residents were given free several years ago for these food scraps, will no longer be provided.

Labels will be placed on each of the containers to specify what can go in them, and what can't. In addition, the Pleasanton Garbage Service will make periodic checks in each neighborhood to determine if the new recycling rules are being followed.

Currently, Pleasanton residents dump all of their refuse, except grass clippings, into a single 96-gallon can which is picked up weekly and taken to the Pleasanton Garbage Service's material recovery facility at its Busch Road transfer station. There, crews sort through the refuse on a fast-moving conveyor belt, separating possible recyclables from wet garbage, old clocks and radios and hundreds of other materials. Then a separate sorting-out takes place to send recyclable plastics, glass, paper and other discards to special bins that are sent to recycling companies.

The process, which was heralded as a breakthrough in garbage recycling when the facility opened, has since lagged in meeting the Alameda County diversion target of 75 percent in 2010, with approximately only 54 percent of refuse collected in Pleasanton now being diverted from landfills.

With residents now required to sort their recyclables before taking garbage curbside---nce the new carts are delivered--the recovery facility will be converted to handle only the separation of those recyclable materials. Garbage placed in the all-purpose refuse cans—whether the 96-gallon or the 35-gallon size—will be taken directly to the landfill without sorting.

Steve Bocian, assistant city manager, worked with Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Councilman Matt Sullivan over the last year to study current garbage collection procedures and those adopted by other cities.

"We're the only city in Alameda County without (curbside) recycling," Sullivan said. "We're lagging behind meeting the new 75 percent goal, which is very important."

Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio agreed.

"I have young people asking me all the time why we don't do a better job of recycling," she said. "I like curbside recycling and I don't think the adjustment will be as difficult as some may think. Sure, people will see a rate hike, but consider the cost effectiveness in terms of what we do with our environment by not dumping in our landfill. This is something we need to do."

Bocian said that in their studies, the council group along with representatives of Pleasanton Garbage and a consultant from the Alameda County agency found that many residents didn't know Pleasanton has a material recovery facility where the garbage placed in the current 96-gallon cart is manually sorted through and recyclables are recovered.

New residents moving here from other cities often call the city or the garbage company asking for a recycling cart similar to what they had been using before, he said.

Only one resident showed up at Tuesday night's public hearing, which had been advertised by the city during the previous week. He expressed surprise that a thousand hadn't come to the meeting to object, as he did, to a garbage service rate increase at a time when current weak economic conditions should have called for a rate reduction. It turned out he lives in a town home community where refuse is placed in large commercial dumpsters and collected at a higher rate fee.

At Councilwoman Cindy McGovern's urging, Bocian agreed to look at commercial rates being charged to some residential communities to see if discounts could be made available.

A new commercial program also is under consideration, including a request now that asks companies to voluntarily sort out recyclables. Once details of the program are determined, Bocian said it should be implemented as a new requirement by March of next year.

McGovern also pointed out that residents who are at least 62 years old can qualify for a 15 percent discount on their garbage bills, but she doesn't think most seniors know about that. Bocian said the city and the Pleasanton Garbage Service would send out advisories informing residents of the discount.

Councilman Jerry Thorne said that while he didn't like the idea of raising garbage rates in the current economy, he would vote to approve the hikes and the new curbside recycling program, especially with the reduced rate for the new 35-gallon, all-refuse cart which will raise rates by only $1.09 a month.

"You can bet I'll be among the first to request the smaller-sized can," Thorne said.

The city has maintained an exclusive refuse collection and recycling franchise agreement with Pleasanton Garbage Service since 1989. The franchise agreement runs through June 30, 2019.


Posted by Nona, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2009 at 8:53 pm

RE: the Pleasanton Garbage Service article in yesterday's Weekly: "Pleasanton launches new curbside garbage recycling program
Rates to rise, but only by $1.09 if residents keep non-recyclable waste to a minimum"

So, wait --

Currently there are people, sifting through our trash, removing the recyclables. Right, I knew this.

But now, PGS wants us, the customers to do that for them. Understandable -- lots of communities require the customer to sort out the recyclables.

But -- But -- But -- they're now going to charge us MORE for this? More money for doing the work for them?


Posted by recycling is good, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Check out the staff report! The cost to dump in the landfill has gone up 27%

Posted by recycler, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Nona - I believe PGS is going to create another pick-up. So, instead of two trucks coming to your house, there will be three. Also, there is the cost of the new bins.

I am afraid this may fall into the catagory of "it feels like the right thing to do" when it may be indifferent or worse. Does sending more trucks around offet any additional recycling benefit that may occur? And, will there be domestic markets for the recyclables? Or, will they go on to barges destined for Asia?

My feeling is that a small barbage can should be much less expensive than the big one and the same for a recycle bin. Waste less, pay less. Recyclables are form of waste and it takes energy and money to deal with it.

Posted by Patti, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:16 am

Why have another garbabe can? If rates are going to go up, then why can't the process continue as it is right now.
Now, you want more money and I get to figure out how to do this. How do I get rid of tissue and cans? Do I throw them loose in the garbage can or do I use a plastic bag? What gives?

Posted by Less with More, a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:22 am

"Less with More" is the slogan for everything these days! Did you notice that ice cream is only 1.75Q not 2.0Q and you pay the same if not more... Some soda cans are going that way too! Yogurt has already gone that way!

So, PGS wants us do all their dirty work and want to charge more. Yes, the landfill fee is going up but we are using less landfill if we separate. So, where is the savings?

Sending another truck is a waste of our natural resources. Are they going to use Hybrid or electric trucks? At least they can be GREEN... not in terms of making more money (Green!)...

Higher bills, higher bills... as more people lose their jobs... I see the trend...

Posted by G Taylor, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

Does this mean we get a discount on our garbage bill since we're doing our own recycling ? Seems like we should.

Posted by Lucky Guy, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:43 am

If you had an issue, why did you not show up at council to voice your displeasure or at least email the council. You have a means to do both. It appears that if you lose. PGS provides a great service and have done much for the community in a charitable way--has for years and years.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:45 am

If we do their work we should receive a huge discount. Something has got to motivate people that don't want to do the dirty work!! We do the work = WE SAVE!!!

Posted by ?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2009 at 9:30 am

Sue, (and the others) I'm confused. Are you planning on going to work for PGS? I just wanted to let you know that they are only asking that you seperate YOUR OWN garbage. You know, the trash that YOU and your FAMILY creates. Can you explain to me why something has to "motivate" anyone to be responsible for their own garbage. Here are just a few motivations. The city will fine you for not obeying the LAW. You neighbors might not agree with your idea that you can handle you trash differently than every other resident in town. Don't forget the slow death of Mother Earth. AND, after repeated offenses, the city can revoke your PGS privilege, which would make things much more difficult in the long run for you.
How about we all just stop complaining and be happy that our garbage service is finally evolving and helping us be responsible citizens of this planet.

Posted by Michael, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 13, 2009 at 10:55 am

I will not sort my garbage for them! Fine me if you wish.. but I won't be doing their job for them. Stupid idea...let's add more trucks to pollute the world.. three trucks now?.. dumb dumb dumb.

Posted by ?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Now you have me curious Mike. Are you saying that you are "too good" to correctly prepare your personal trash for disposal OR are you that obsessively concerned with our enviroment that you believe one more truck route will accelerate global warming to a point of disaster? I just want to know why you feel so strongly that you would take on the police and the city of Pleasanton, and risk the punishment?

Posted by Jill, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm

More trucks, more pollution ya, but they figure its a trade-off to be green and trendy for Big Al. But the real question is...are the people in RubyEagleRanch gonna give their maid's a raise to do all this seperating. You know its gonna take more time to do that and they might have to pay some OT. It doesn't matter for us down in the bottoms because our time isn't important.

Posted by Nell, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Wow. I thought I might gain some knowledge re the process of recycling as it might compare to every other town I lived in before Pleasanton. What I got was a great view of the Pleasanton mindset.

Posted by Optimistic, a resident of Parkside
on Apr 14, 2009 at 3:07 am

We came to Pleasanton 10 years ago from a community that had a curbside recycling program and it was really easy to use. There is a sense of pride in showing your kids how to be responsible for minimizing our impact on landfills.
Give it a chance - you may be surprised to find that you can't imagine why we didn't adopt this sooner.

Posted by Where do I put it?, a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 16, 2009 at 9:17 am

I am all for reducing our waste. I have been trying to get others in my home to help. I am a little confused though. It was stated in this article that pizza bozes were to go directly to the landfill. I thought that they could go into the green waste as a soiled food container. I know my worms love the box when they get it.