Trash Costs Set to Go Up

First published in the Nov. 25 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The cost of trash service likely will increase in the near future after the La Cañada Flintridge City Council adopted an ordinance regulating organic waste disposal on Nov. 16.
The city unanimously approved the new regulation to comply with Senate Bill 1383, a new law intended to help the state reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants that come from compostable materials such as paper products, yard trimmings and food scraps.
“We don’t know exactly how much it’s going to go up, but the predictions are that the rates will increase substantially,” Jackson Dodd, LCF management analyst, told councilmembers last week.
The council made no modifications to the ordinance proposed by staff that will require waste haulers to provide organic waste diversion. All city residents and businesses will be required to comply with the new regulation.
“This is really going to hurt our businesses and it’s a shame but I understand it,” said Councilman Mike Davitt.
According to CalRecycle, a state department that oversees waste management and recycling, organic waste in landfills emit 20% of California’s methane — a powerful greenhouse gas that is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide — as well as air pollutants such as PM 2.5, which has been linked to respiratory health problems such as asthma.
The bill allows municipalities to penalize consumers for failing to abide to the ordinance up to $10,000 per day per incident, but LCF proposed to have penalty fees begin at $100 and escalate from there, depending on the severity and frequency of violations.
Though all jurisdictions are required to have a mandatory organic waste disposal ordinance in place by Jan. 1, little is known as to how cities will implement it.
“[Los Angeles] County hadn’t even passed their ordinance yet, so we don’t even know what theirs looks like to model after,” Mayor Pro Tem Keith Eich said during the meeting. “There are a lot of things here. It’s another example of where things get pushed down from Sacramento without understanding how the rubber meets the road and then putting it on our plates to do the heavy lifting.”
Councilman Jonathan Curtis questioned whether the added fees and effort will actually help the state.
“I really wonder if it’s going to do that much good with the amount of energy that’s going to be expended to try to recover food waste, but I guess we’ll see,” he said.
Though the ordinance has been approved, Mayor Terry Walker said that city staff may need to “tweak it as we go along” as the state provides more guidance and SB 1383 becomes more clear.