Santa Clarita’s garbage disposal system is set to face major changes in compliance with Senate Bill 1383, affecting residents and businesses alike.
The Valley Industry Association hosted a panel of experts on Tuesday to educate the community on the changes coming to business and residential waste. The panel of experts included: Curtis Williams, the solid waste administrator at the city of Santa Clarita, Dennis Verner, the general manager for Burrtec Waste Industries, and Steve Youlios, the owner and operator of nine Jersey Mike’s stores.
In attendance was state Sen. Scott Wilk, Mayor Jason Gibbs and Councilman Bill Miranda.
SB 1383 discusses short-lived climate pollutants, methane emissions, dairy, livestock, organic waste and landfills. The bill is requiring the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to approve and implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants to achieve a reduction in methane by 40%, hydrofluorocarbon gases by 40% and anthropogenic black carbon by 50% by 2023.
The bill, which was signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016, also established specific targets for reducing organic waste in landfills.
“It took some time for CalRecycle, who oversees the enforcement of a lot of these laws,” said Williams. “It took until about 2020 to come up with enough requirements and guidelines to be able to get to the counties and the cities.”
The city of Santa Clarita had two contracts for the trash hauling – a commercial contract with Burrtec Waste Industries and a residential contract with Waste Management. Both contracts were set to end June 30, 2023.
In compliance with the new state law, the city put the two hauling contracts out to bid in an open bidding process.
The city awarded Burrtec Waste Industries the new waste services franchise agreement for all residential and commercial waste services in the city.
Starting July 1, 165,000 Waste Management containers will be switched out for 165,000 Burrtec containers. The process is currently scheduled to take eight weeks.
An interactive map will be available where residents can type in their address and see what day their trash exchange will take place.
“Basically, what happens, you just put your trash out like a normal day, and then the trash truck will dump the cans and then following that there will be a flatbed truck that will remove the Waste Management cans after that,” said Verner. “Another truck will come and drop the new containers and those containers will have a welcome package with a lot of information in it.”
The introduction of the Burrtec containers simultaneously introduces a new sorting and color system for waste disposal.
Trash containers will be black, recycling containers will be blue and green waste, now called organics, is green.
“It’s a requirement now that organic waste no longer goes in the trash and goes to the landfill,” said Williams. “It now has to go into a separate container and that container then, with green waste and the food waste, now ends up being recycled, either gets composted and becomes mulch or gets gasified, and then we can take materials from that and create fuel.”
“The thought at the time was when you have food products and other organic products rotting in a landfill, it creates methane,” said Verner. “Methane was then considered obviously something that is part of the climate change awareness was not something they wanted just going up into the atmosphere, and so that’s one of the key points of this bill.”
Organics are described by Verner as essentially anything that comes from the Earth. Some items include landscape waste, organic textiles, lumber, paper products, food scraps, etc.
This new sorting system will also require residents to remove food from its original packaging to then dump into the organics container.
The monthly rate for residential services is set to go up from the current rate of $26.31 to Burrtec’s new rate of $28.92.
“What we are doing behind the scenes is trying to figure out how much it’s gonna cost,” said Verner. “We have to take into consideration how much did the trucks cost? When should they last? How much fuel did they use? How much is it per ton at the landfill today and how much will it be in the landfill? You know, coming up in the future, (Consumer Price Index) increases, we have labor costs, workers’ comp, all those types of things, and you come out with the price and you divide it by the amount of households, you end up with the number… and on the commercial side, it is a little bit more complicated because everybody has different service levels.”
Youlios spoke on the panel to offer a business perspective, stating at the outset that any of his comments do not reflect his views on climate change and the merits of the program.
“I think that legislators need to take in account this economic impact,” said Youlios. “The other thing that has to be taken into consideration is not just the cost of the program, but then the administrative costs internally of having to administer these programs. See, because even if it’s something I pay, well, you’re (gesturing to the audience) gonna have to pay it eventually because I’m not gonna take it off for myself. I’m gonna raise my prices to a point.”
Youlios said that with these mandates, he has had to rethink his entire business model.
Local business owner Lisa Burke said that at her business, 90% of her trash is recyclable. Burke’s bill is going from $135 a month to over $2,000 a month, a 950% markup.
Verner responded, saying that Burke is one of approximately 15 experiencing such a large markup.
“I told her, and I’m committed to her, that I will help her,” said Verner.
Verner and Williams encouraged all attendees to contact them if they are experiencing any issues with the price changes.
To contact Burrtec, email [email protected].
Williams also hinted at new resources potentially being available soon for edible food recovery services. However, Youlios said food-based charities and food pantries will not accept most food, citing opened or unpackaged food.
Verner went into detail about the protocol for residents who do not comply with the new system:
“We really don’t want to be out giving fines … but it is a provision of SB 1383 and it is in our contract, and the trucks that we have ordered to handle this contract have cameras in them, and there’ll be GPS to each house. If your trash can is blocked by a car, or it’s not out, or when we go to dump and there is stuff falling out, like sometimes people put paint cans in there and then the paint cans break open and then it leaks out of the truck and gets over the street, those types of things. It also it videotapes, everything that’s being dumped into the trucks and we’ll be able to see what’s going in there.”
“Now people are like, ‘Oh, well, I’ll just put it in plastic bags.’ OK, that’s fine. But what will happen is, when we take it to the processor or the landfill, wherever it is, we’ll spot check certain loads, we know where that truck came from and then individuals will go down the street either in a truck or something with some tool that they’ll flip, they call this flippers, and open the lid and cut the bags to see who’s not complying.”
“Then there’s a whole notice thing, we want to give notices. We want to encourage compliance, we don’t want to just say, ‘Here’s a fine.’ We just say, ‘Oh look, we found all this food waste in your trash, is it possible that you could put it in the next trash can instead of this trash can?’ That’s what we’re going to try to do as opposed to you know, just going down and red tagging trash cans. That’s pretty much how it’ll work.”
“Obviously if this was an easier thing, where it was a changeover of companies and everything kind of stayed the same, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here today,” said Verner.