Big Turnout At Sanitary District Town Hall
DEFINING "ZERO WASTE"
District General Manager Scott Carroll led off with a presentation about why we were there. In fact, several slides in his presentation were titled "Why are we here?" Several of those slides gave different quotes about "Zero Waste" - theoretically the goal of managing trash. Perhaps the most relevant was the first one, from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, which stated, "Zero waste efforts, just like recycling efforts before, will change the face of solid waste management in the future. Instead of managing wastes, we will manage resources and strive to eliminate waste." Then, later on, he had another slide that said, "Zero waste is NOT about getting to zero. It is about being on the path to zero." Got that? Further we saw one that said, "Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them."
We learned that the State has mandated that 75% of all waste be diverted from landfills by 2020. The Sanitary District Board, at a meeting in April, established a goal of achieving 75% diversion by 2015 and 90% by 2020.
THE QUICK VERSION
In a nutshell, the Sanitary District will provide us with new "carts" - those cans on wheels that we presently load all our trash into for weekly pickup - for the "organics" and will hope we do some self-sorting those new cans to separate "Organics" from the rest of our trash. We will have two types of cans - Organics and Other Trash, including recyclables.
Grass clippings,tree branches, twigs, stumps, leaves, weeds, bushes and shrubs
Fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, eggshells, rice, beans, cheese, bones, frozen/refrigerated food, tea bags, coffee grounds, pasta, FOG (fats, oil, grease)
HOW IT WILL WORK
Some of the details about precisely how this system will work still need to be ironed out, but here are the basics as it stands today.
Households will receive one 64 or 32 gallon organic cart.
Standard service: 2-64 gallon mixed waste carts and 1-64 gallon organic cart.
Households can request one additional organic cart with no additional monthly fee.
Households may have 2 mixed waste arts and 2 organic carts with no additional monthly fee.
A 3rd mixed waste and/or 3rd organic cart will cost $8.00 a month per additional container.
Households that generate no green waste
A. Replace organic cart with 32 gallon food waste cart or
B. Opt out of Organics Recycling Program and keep both existing mixed waste carts.
Household that generates neither food scraps OR green waste.
A. Opt out of Organics Recycling Program and keep both existing mixed waste carts.
Households with limited storage space can also opt out.
NO PENALTIES FOR NON-PARTICIPATION, BUT...
Keep in mind that the goal here is to have EVERYONE participate in this program to maximize its effectiveness. However, it was clear that if you choose to opt out, whether you meet any of those criteria above or not, there would be no "trash police" in your neighborhoods nor would there be fines imposed.
There will be small kitchen pails made available in which participants can collect food waste, which would be dumped into the Organics cart. Several members of the audience expressed concern about odors, both in the house and outside, as the food waste is mixed - unbagged - with the green waste. Carroll and the other speakers expressed the opinion that it should not be a problem. Many observers were skeptical.
WILL COST MORE THAN $500,000 PER YEAR
Carroll also talked about the costs of this program. He told us that it currently costs $2,297,593 @ $8.9054 per property owner. By adding the organic carts those numbers change to $2,527.213 @$9.7954 per property owner for an increase of $229,620.
Under the CRT Recycling/Disposal Plan:
Currently we spend $2,137,266 @ $51.97 per ton for 41,125 tons. Approximately 33% of that trash would be "organic" under the new program, so the numbers would work out as follows:
$1,431,981 @ $51.97 per ton for 27,554 tons (67%)
$ 970,344 @ $71.50 per ton for 13,571 organic tons (33%)
-2,137,266 Current Cost
Hauler Rate $229,620
CRT Recycling/Disposal Rate: $265,059
Kitchen pails 8,000
Community Outreach 2,000
PAYMENT METHODS STILL PENDING
Carroll went into lengthy explanation of possible payment methods, including using reserves to pay the difference or spreading the increase cost over several years. The Board will address those choices following more community input.
DIGESTING YOUR ORGANICS
Then representatives from CR&R Environmental Services, our trash hauler, told us about the technology that will be used for this Anaerobic Digestion Project, using German technology at a facility they are building in Perris, California. Basically, solid and liquid organic waste is placed in something called a Main Digester, which separates solids and gas. Through proven, patented processes the gas is turned into the cleanest CNG fuel available and the other materials become liquid and solid fertilizer. You can learn more about how this process works HERE and HERE.
READY IN A YEAR
According to Mike Silva, CR&R Project Manager for this new facility, the site will be ready to accept delivery of waste for processing in roughly a year. And, we were told, that CR&R chose the Costa Mesa Sanitary District to team-up with on this project because of their great history with us - we were the first to go with the all-in-one-cart program many years ago. And, they guarantee us low rates because we will be in this game early.
DOUBLE THE IMPACTS
FEELS A LITTLE RUSHED, BUT...
I came away from the meeting feeling a little more comfortable with this process, although there seems to be a little bit of a rush right now. According to CMSD Board members and staff, this evaluation process has been ongoing for many years, but this is really the first public outreach, but will not be the last. The second of these meetings will be held at the same venue, the Downtown Neighborhood Community Center at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 11, 2014. I encourage you to attend that meeting if at all possible and to hear the details of the presentation for yourselves.
TAKING THE PUBLIC'S PULSE
Board members Arlene Schafer, Jim Ferryman, Art Perry and Mike Scheafer sat quietly near the back of the room, hearing the presentation and measuring the community responses. Only member Bob Ooten was absent.
After all is said and done, based on what we're told about the State mandates, this train is coming down the track with no way to stop it. It seems prudent for us to carefully consider this proposal and, perhaps, jump aboard early in the process, before it gains much more momentum. The Board will make a decision sometime in January, so express your opinion soon. You can send an email to General Manager Scott Carroll HERE.