This month I attended the annual California Resource Recovery Association conference in Oakland. This is the statewide trade association for those of us in the solid waste industry.
For the last few years, attendance had been down, but this year there were large crowds. There also seemed to be a sense of renewed interest among the participants that I hadn't witnessed for some years.
Why all the excitement? Simple: Assembly Bill 341, passed in 2011.
This is the state law that requires businesses generating more than four cubic yards of garbage per week to recycle and report. This regulation also increases the statewide "diversion" goal (that is, waste reduction and recycling) from the current 50 percent to 75 percent by the year 2020.
According to some experts in the garbage and recycling industry, this new law is as important as California's original solid waste regulation, AB 939, passed in 1989. Way back then, AB 939 was enacted to help remedy what was seen as a "landfill crisis" in California. Mandating municipalities to recycle at least 50 percent by the year 2000; AB 939 helped to preserve declining landfill space. The statewide recycling rate is now 58 percent, and there are even stricter regulations on landfills. So, aiming for even higher diversion rates seems, to many, like the next logical step.
But, how are we going to get there? That was the focus of the CRRA meeting this year. There were lots of discussions
Closer to home, the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority is gearing up for the next level, as well -- especially given the fact that new garbage and recycling franchises need to be in place by March 2015. The new franchise will reflect the current and potential future state requirements for diverting materials from the landfill.
A new franchise agreement in 2015 may seem like a long way off to most people, but in the world of solid waste, that's practically tomorrow. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "franchising" solid waste services means that only those companies that have a contract with the municipality (or its designee) are allowed to provide garbage and/or recycling services. Franchising allows for economies-of-scale that an open, competitive market place does not.
Additionally, contracted companies are often held to stricter, enforceable standards on important issues like customer service. Another benefit is the elimination of duplicate collection vehicles, thereby potentially decreasing wear and tear on roads.
Solid waste franchise agreements are typically 10-year terms because the required equipment, like trucks and containers, are expensive and therefore amortized over a longer period of time. Due to the significant franchise time frame and the inherent complexity of such an agreement, solid waste agencies like the CCCSWA take a great deal of care to ensure that customers are getting the best array of services for the best price.
The CCCSWA wants to make sure that both commercial and residential customers are getting a chance to weigh in on what's important to them in the next solid waste franchise agreement. That's why we're reaching out during the next couple of months, to hear what the community thinks about current and potential future garbage and recycling services.
Currently, we have two different venues for making your voice heard. The first is a brief electronic survey on the CCCSWA website. Visit www.wastediversion.org or log ontohttps://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CCCSWA_feedback to go directly to the survey. Second, we will hold a series of public workshops in September. We are inviting commercial and residential customers to join us to discuss the future of solid waste programs. The dates and places are:
We need your help to make sure our solid waste services meet and exceed your expectations. To participate in our workshops, call us at 925-906-1801 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your name, city, and phone number. And remember to "Like Us" on Facebook.
If you have a question, comment or idea about current or future solid waste programs, please email them to email@example.com.