Thursday, February 06, 2014

Another Good Turnout For Organics Recycling Town Hall

Wednesday night the Costa Mesa Sanitary District hosted yet another - the third - town hall for residents to learn about, and ask questions about, the proposed Organics Recycling program.

Approximately 30 residents attended the event at the Halecrest Community Center.  Sanitary District General Manager Scott Carroll and CR&R Environmental Services Project Manager Mike Silva again made presentations explaining the new program, both of which had been updated with information in response to questions asked in the earlier two meetings and the most recent Sanitary District Board meeting last month.  You can view the slide show of Carroll's presentation HERE, Silva's HERE and view a video recorded by Barry Friedland for his Costa Mesa Brief YouTube channel of the second town hall HERE.
Nearly a dozen of the attendees stood to ask questions and/or to make observations.  There were many new faces in this audience.  I estimate that between the three town halls and the Sanitary District meeting last month, nearly 200 residents have attended these briefings, with one more to go on Saturday.
Once again Silva did a good job of describing the technology to be employed in this new process, and the reason why it was necessary.  In a nutshell, new laws require municipalities to divert at least 75% of its waste from landfills by 2020.  The CMSD currently diverts 57%.  The new process, if followed by most ratepayers, could result in 75% diversion by 2015 and 90% by 2020.  CR&R is building a $20 million facility in Perris, CA to handle this new process, which will produce fertilizer and clean natural gas as byproducts.

Carroll explained the collection process and the finances of this new system.  He discussed the possiblity of using $4 million in solid waste reserves to cover the increased costs for the next several years, and also alternatively use an incremental increase over a period of time.  He also discussed the practicalities of the change and his location of biodegradable bags.

CR&R wants the CMSD to be among the first to use this new process and has guaranteed us the lowest rates for using it, even if they negotiate lower rates elsewhere later.  If the Sanitary District Board approves this change at their meeting on February 25th the new process - and new carts to be used - would not take place until a year from now at the earliest.
One of the main concerns many residents had at previous meetings was how to manage the table scraps - the food waste we all now either just run through our garbage disposals and down the drain or throw in our trash cans.  Under the new proposal green waste - grass, tree clippings, etc., would be mixed with food waste in an "Organics" cart.  All other trash would go in our old familiar trash carts.  It is proposed that a small tub be used in the kitchen to collect the food waste, which would then be emptied into the Organics cart.  The CMSD management has identified compostable plastic bags that fit in the kitchen-top tubs that could be used to transport that waste to the cart.  That seems to solve one of the main concerns.  A simple Google search identified several sources, including and Target Stores.

The following image shows the time, date and place of the next town hall - on Saturday - and the next Sanitary District Board meeting on the 25th.  I expect the Board to approve this new process and will probably decide to spread the cost of the new program out incrementally each year by raising the current rates approximately $1.95 per household per month.  If that's the case, the rates will reach the level they were at two years ago by 2020.  The Sanitary District has reduced rates twice in the past two years.

I'm in favor of this change.  It will take a little getting used to and will likely not end up being very inconvenient for most ratepayers.  In cases where space for an additional cart is a problem the CMSD staff will review those on a case-by-case basis.

See you Saturday at the Back Bay High School at 9:00 a.m..

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Anonymous xyn bohemia said...

i think this is a good thing also. my mom's home (my childhood home) already has this in place. though she lives on a quiet neighborhood with large streets so the trash and green barrels don't have to compete for "real estate" on trash day. i would like to know more about how much the degradable trash bags will cost, if there are there larger bags available and if there may some sort of rebate on purchase of these.
also, i would like to see some feedback from sanitation district on how the new process is working out as it is implemented and beyond.
they do a great job of this already--

2/07/2014 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous xyn bohemia said...

also.... what ever happened to recycling news papers? i haven't heard of that for a long time--- can we recycle paper items anywhere? also other paper like mail (after we've removed personal info)

just thinkin' out loud here....

2/07/2014 01:10:00 PM  

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