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City’s solid waste fees could increase
Garbage cans
A public hearing has been set for the City Council to consider solid waste fee increases as Turlock Scavenger prepares for new organic waste requirements in the new year (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

New state-mandated requirements are calling on municipalities to help reduce California’s organic waste by 75% in the next three years, resulting in changes to how Turlock residents and businesses separate their trash — and potential fee increases. 

The Turlock City Council voted during their Dec. 14 meeting to incorporate changes related to upcoming Senate Bill 1383 into the Turlock Municipal Code. By Jan. 1, 2022, the City is required under SB 1383 to adopt and enforce an ordinance for residents and businesses generating solid waste which complies with the mandate. Turlock Scavenger is proposing fee increases in order to help the company shoulder the cost of these new requirements. 

R3 Consulting Group helped the City of Turlock draft its compliant ordinance, which the Council voted to approve in replacement of previous municipal code language. Garth Schultz of R3CG explained to the Council that the new mandate is meant to divert organics from the garbage stream, instead collecting them and directing them to more beneficial uses such as composting.

Organic waste also includes food waste, soiled paper and papers and fibers which go in the recycling bin, Schultz added. 

“You’re in a fortunate position here in Turlock in that you’ve had collection programs for both of those organic stream types in blue and green bins here for quite some time,” Schultz said. 

The ordinance approved by the City Council requires not only residences but also businesses to separate organics and recyclables from trash. Businesses and multi-family dwellings must supply an adequate number of containers consistent with the three-bin program, and businesses are also required to make indoor and outdoor recycling and organics collection containers available to customers for any materials generated in self-serve areas. 

Businesses and multi-family residential dwellings that don’t have the space for containers or generate minimal amounts of organic waste are able to apply for waivers from the requirements. Large businesses and corporations will also be required to participate in an edible food recovery program to donate surplus food — a requirement which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022 for large grocery stores and supermarkets, and Jan. 1 2024for large restaurants and other large food providers. 

While there will be fines for residents and businesses who don’t comply — and for the City if it doesn’t enforce the new requirements — the penalties won’t take effect immediately. Until 2024, the City will provide education and outreach to the community on the new mandate; one example of this is stickers in production by Turlock Scavenger which will be placed on bins to remind people what is able to go into each container. 

SB 1383 also requires the City to complete compliance monitoring and route reviews, keep records and submit annual reports to CalRecycle.

The unfunded state mandate impacts the solid waste industry, forcing Turlock Scavenger to absorb the increases of operational costs to comply with each new requirement. In order to counterbalance these increased costs, R3CG also found that Turlock Scavenger’s solid waste rates are among the lowest in the area and would need to be adjusted. 

In order to move forward with adjusting the rates, the City Council authorized staff to proceed with property owner notification and established a public hearing date of Feb. 8, 2022.

In residential areas, Turlock scavenger is proposing that all trash carts be sized at 95 gallons, replacing the standard 32-gallon black carts and the available upgraded sizes of 64 gallons and 95 gallons. While some homes utilize the 32-gallon trash cart, other homes have upgraded to larger sizes. A universal trash cart size would allow the same truck to pick up all trash along the same route and give residents more room for waste, as R3CG found those with smaller bins often overfill them or move excess waste into the recycling bin. 

If the three different sizes of trash carts are kept, waste fees must increase over the next five years to pay for the different trucks for each size. The proposed 2022 rate for the standardized 95-gallon trash cart is $33.01, an increase of $5.61 per month over the current 32-gallon trash cart service. 

Rate payers that opted to upgrade to the 64-gallon cart will realize a $3.19 reduction of their monthly charge in 2022. Rate payers that opted to upgrade to a 95-gallon cart will realize an $8.69 reduction of their monthly charge in 2022. Jan. 1, 2023 the rate will be $36.51, an increase of $3.50. Jan. 1, 2024the rate will be $38.92, an increase of $2.41. Jan. 1, 2025 there will be an increase of $0.48 plus Refuse -Rate-Index, and Jan. 1, 2026 will see an increase of $0.72 plus RRI.

“This isn’t the county, this isn’t the city, this isn't Turlock Scavenger, this is the state of California who’s putting this in there, and whether you are the greenest person there is that loves this whole concept or wish we could throw it all in one can, it isn’t going to happen,” Turlock Scavenger President Alan Marchant said. “This will not work unless the people of Turlock help us with this thing.”

The City Council will vote on these new rates during the public hearing on Feb. 8, 2022, and if approved, they will be implemented in April.