The Claremont City Council recently approved an organic recycling pilot program, which is the first step in complying with a new state law mandating composting of food waste by January 2022. Approximately 1,420 households—17 percent of residential customers—will participate in the pilot program by placing food scraps in their green waste bins beginning February 1. The pilot program will cost the city approximately $40,000 including processing and hauling costs, as well as purchasing countertop containers. The city has funding available in its sanitation budget to cover these costs.

Participants in the pilot program will all be on a single route on the four collection days, Monday through Thursday. The routes were selected based upon clearly defined boundaries and staff’s ability to collect a full route of organic waste in a single truckload, as well as an effort to select a representative sample from various areas of the community.

The new law, SB-1383, requires that all cities adopt a composting program, and failure to meet the January 2022 deadline could result in significant fines. “Recycling food and organic waste helps to reduce harmful methane emissions that contribute to global warming, and is consistent with the goals of the Sustainable City Plan. The pilot program will allow select customers to place food waste in their green container for composting,” acting City Manager Adam Pierre said in a statement.

City staff decided to go with comingled green and food waste to eliminate the need for a fourth curbside collection bin and to avoid creating a fourth refuse pick up route, which would include hiring drivers and purchasing trucks, according to a presentation provided by Kristin Mikula, community services manager.

The lowest bid came from Athens Services which is permitted to accept comingled green and food waste and produces high grade compost, according to the staff report. The city would be responsible for collection of the material and delivering it to the Athens’ facility in the City of Industry. Athens would then truck the waste to its composting plant in Victorville. Composting on this scale is still a new and emerging industry, with few facilities having the proper permits, including the city’s current contractor in Pomona which cannot receive comingled food and green waste.

The pilot program will help the city evaluate hauling times to the City of Industry, including vehicle fuel and maintenance, the amount of food waste collected and the contamination rate. The goal is to estimate a budget preparation for rollout of the full program next year.

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Author: Steven Felschundneff, Claremont Courier
Image: Sri Lanka on Unsplash