California county’s organic waste collection experiences big changes

California county’s organic waste collection experiences big changes

Upper Valley Disposal Service has been making preparations to comply with California’s statewide mandate to achieve a 75 percent reduction of organic waste disposal by 2025.

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In September 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown established a methane emissions reduction target to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants in various sectors of the state’s economy. Since then, Napa County, California-based Upper Valley Disposal Service at Clover Flat landfill has been making preparations to comply with the state mandated changes.

With the goal to reduce the level of statewide disposal of organic waste by 75 percent by 2025, Christy Pestoni, chief operating officer at Clover Flat landfill, says this is a big feat. “Nothing this big [in waste management] has happened in 30 years. It’s a big paradigm shift in the way we understand waste in the state,” she adds.

On May 19, Pestoni and Amanda Griffis from Napa County Public Works presented the Calistoga City Council an overview of what preparations the landfill is making, and what the mandate will mean for the community.

Under the bill, waste management and recycling departments are required to provide organics collection services to all residents and businesses, establish an edible food recovery program and provide community education and outreach.

“Right now, we’re just moving forward with educating the public, and preparing the facility to receive the [coming] onslaught,” Pestoni says.

According to The Weekly Calistogan, 75 percent of what now goes into the Calistoga landfill will have to be processed in a different way. As of now, there are only 35 waste facilities in the state that take and process organic waste, which needs to climb to 200 by 2022.

Local government departments are also required to play a role with composing. Construction and landscape projects are also required to comply by meeting CalGreen’s 65 percent requirement for recycling in residential and non-residential projects.

“The impact of this is a monster, and will be a significant challenge for any community,” says Mayor Chris Canning.

As of now, no table scraps are to go in customers’ green waste bins, but by the end of the year that should change, Pestoni says. Going forward, Clover Flat will provide more information on what kind of waste goes where.

In 2022, the state will also begin to enforce regulations, with significant penalties for noncompliance. The regulations will require massive record-keeping and additional staff, which will in turn increase waste collection rates, Pestoni says.