A monthly update by Michelle Blackwell, Chair, Richmond Chamber Government Relations Committee.
Go Go Garbage! More Service – Less Money
In November, Chris Lehon from RecycleMore gave the Government Relations Committee an update on the new garbage franchise deal that is under consideration for West County Cities and unincorporated West Contra Costa. The regional program was set up in 1989 to help the area meet the 50% recycled garbage by 2000 goals set by the State. Currently West County recycles around 65%. New goals set by the State to reach 75% by 2020 have induced RecycleMore to make some positive changes to your garbage collection.
Before I go much farther – who is RecycleMore? Well, it’s a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with a Board of Directors made up of councilmembers from each City. In Richmond, Nat Bates, Jovanka Beckles and Jael Myrick sit on the Board. They work together with the other cities to bid out contracts for garbage service in the area. This reduces cost and improves service. Richmond Sanitary, aka Republic Services, had the winning bid in the recent process. After they get through the bidding process each City has to adopt the new program with a council vote.
The good news is, service will improve and rates will either go down or stay the same dependent on which city you are in. How can that be? The facility that was built to handle regional recycling is paid for – so the costs of paying the loan went away. However, since the benchmark for recycling went up – RecycleMore had to get creative with that list of recyclables. Ultimately the two balanced out in favor of the Cities. They will pay less for more service. The big question is will you? San Pablo has decided to pass the savings on to the ratepayers. Hercules and Pinole are looking at maybe spending it on roads – or rate stabilization funds or some combination thereof. Richmond, well Richmond has not decided because the Richmond City Council has to certify the new contract. In fact Richmond’s indecisiveness is holding everyone up. Everyone being all the folks who live in West County in the JPA.
What exactly are you missing out on beside possible lower garbage bills? A partial list of new and improved services and when they were to start is below: You can find out more at http://www.recyclemore.com. Each month Richmond delays approval the new service dates move out too.
- Hiring two recycling coordinators beginning December 1, 2013.
- Expanded list of recyclables allowed in the curbside recycling program beginning January 1, 2014.
#1-#7 plastic beverage and food containers;
Mixed rigid plastic packaging and other food containers;
Plastic film and wrapping (properly bagged);
All mixed plastics;
Milk and juice cartons.
- Expanded organic materials (including food waste) allowed in the curbside green cart beginning January 1, 2014.
- Commercial organics (food waste) program by April 1, 2014 for all interested commercial customers.
- Dry material collection and recycling program beginning May 1, 2014 for commercial customers whose solid waste is identified as having primarily dry and recyclable material.
- Weekly recycling and organics collection starting October 31, 2014. It is currently collected every two weeks.
The Government Relations Committee is recommending the Chamber Board send a letter to the Council to get this moving and let the recycling begin!
In other news… The Government Relations Committee is studying the new planning document, Livable Corridors Form Based Code, and we will have more information forth coming. We are also watching the City’s new GMO Labeling and Urban Agriculture Ordinances. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. GMO is used in agriculture to create various foods. Last election a State wide effort to require food makers to list GMO on their packaging failed. More than 50% of Contra Costa residents voted against it. The City is considering a City wide ordinance. Stay tuned.