San Clemente will increase trash removal rates for residents and businesses and require both to dispose of organic waste along with recycling and trash beginning Jan. 1.
Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Collegiate News Service, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Collegiate News Service Editor Vik Jolly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is one of the waste management actions some cities in Orange County are taking to prepare for the 2022 statewide mandates limiting emissions from climate pollutants.
Cypress will automatically enroll its residents and businesses into a new recycling program of organic and inorganic waste through updates in its waste management ordinance, according to a city staff report. La Palma is updating its municipal code, according to its city clerk.
Starting in January, the state will require cities to provide organic waste collection services, donate edible food to recovery organizations, and conduct outreach on organics recycling, among other tasks, under Senate Bill 1383.
The bill attempts to address California’s food insecurity, reduce waste, and limit negative environmental impacts, according to Orange County Waste and Recycling, the agency that handles the county’s solid waste disposal needs.
The San Clemente City Council unanimously approved a resolution in September putting changes in place, including a trash rate hike that accounts for increases in the consumer price index and new services mandated by the state.
“The goal is to reduce the amount of organic material green waste like landscape waste and food waste from going to the landfill so that it isn’t generating methane waste,” Cynthia Mallett, the city’s environmental programs supervisor, said during the meeting.
Diverting organic material from landfills is important to preserve landfill capacity and limit methane emissions, according to OC Waste and Recycling.
San Clemente will also continue an agreement with CR&R to provide for the collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal of the waste, according to a city staff report.
Additionally, the city will connect qualifying restaurants and grocery stores with an entity that will prepare leftover food for consumption with its food recovery program.
All these new services will cost San Clemente $91,975 annually, which will be paid for with the increased trash collection rate.
A residential bill for a 65-gallon, three-cart set will increase from $22.82 monthly to $23.51 on Jan. 1. For commercial bins, a split bin dumpster rate will jump from $115.94 to $119.49, according to the staff report.
Since 2016, San Clemente has allowed residents to apply for an exemption from receiving and paying for organic waste collection if they did not find a need for it. The Senate bill discontinues the exemption because “food scrap diversion” is required for all residents starting in January, according to the staff report.
Some public commenters told council members they thought any increase in prices is an overreach by the government.
“The city needs to stay within a budget and stop burdening small businesses. We are just coming out of a pandemic, and we have been struggling with the constant repairs and necessary renovations on our property,” Nancy Moore, an apartment complex owner, said in a written comment.
Another resident said that the number of changes to the rates has been excessive.
“Moving to San Clemente only four years ago, my trash pick-up bill from CR&R has increased three times already. I lived in Mission Viejo for 25 years and the trash bill did not increase every single year,” homeowner Eileen Greene said in a written comment.
Additionally, the city will ask local business owners to make changes. All food establishments will have to meet all requirements of the Senate bill by the start of the year, according to Mallett.
Specifically, restaurants will have to set up a three-way stream system for trash, recycling, and organics by this date.
“It is probably going to be costly for them,” Mallett said in an email, “Costs will depend on the restaurant type (fast food/sit down), the size of the restaurant, the products the restaurant wants to purchase to set up the three-stream waste diversion system, and if there is an effect on the cost of solid waste disposal.”
Through all these changes, the state is attempting to reduce organic waste disposal by 75% and recover 20% of surplus edible food by 2025, according to OC Waste and Recycling.