New Year, New Waste Program for San Dimas

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A Waste Management truck collects green waste in Old Town San Dimas. Starting January 2022, residents and businesses will place all food waste, in addition to yard trimmings, into the green waste bins for weekly collection. Photo: Phil Ebiner

By Amanda Lee

Your organic waste will have new life in the new year, thanks to state regulations that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Under Waste Management’s new organics recycling program, San Dimas residents and businesses will be required to place all food waste into the green waste bin along with yard trimmings. 

This change is a result of Senate Bill 1383, the Short-Term Climate Pollutants Regulations, which passed in 2016 in a state-wide effort to combat climate change. The goal of SB 1383 is to reduce methane emissions from landfills by repurposing organic materials into compost, mulch or other alternatives, explained Lauren Marshall, senior administrative analyst for the city, during a San Dimas City Council meeting on Sept. 14.

According to an email from CalRecycle, California sent about 39 million tons of waste to landfills in 2018, with 56% of that being organic waste, so reducing organic waste could lead to long-term moderation of methane gas.

“Methane gas is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide … and reducing short-lived pollutants, such as methane, can significantly reduce the impact of climate change in the near future,” Hank Brady, a representative for CalRecycle, said in a 2019 public meeting.

Marshall emphasized that the city’s duties include providing organics collection to all residents and businesses, establishing a program for businesses to donate rather than trash food and offering education and outreach programs throughout the city. The city will also need to buy back some of the organic compost or mulch, secure access to recycling and edible food programs for the underserved, as well as monitor compliance and conduct enforcement. 

Residents will be expected to dispose of fruit and vegetable peels, meat scraps, egg shells and even food-soiled paper inside their green waste bins along with their yard waste.

An infographic from Waste Management illustrates the different types of food and organic waste that will now be placed in the green waste bins, starting January. The graphic also shows what materials are appropriate for the recycling and trash carts. Graphic courtesy: Waste Management

A rate increase will accompany the new changes. During the Dec. 14 city council meeting, Marshall presented and the council unanimously approved a 4.922% rate increase. San Dimas residents already saw a 5.67% rate increase for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Terry Muse, a Waste Management representative, explained the added costs result from transporting green waste to a specialized anaerobic digestion facility in Tulare, California, that allows meat to be included in the composting process.

To store waste and reduce odors, Waste Management Communications Specialist Mary Hartley suggested using a small container or pail in the kitchen to collect food scraps throughout the week before adding them to your bin. Hartley also added that keeping food scraps in the fridge or freezer before emptying the contents directly into the organics cart on collection day could also help reduce odors. While plastic should not be disposed of in the green waste or recycle bin, food-soiled paper and paper bags can be used to collect and dispose of organic waste. 

Commercial customers will also be impacted. Businesses such as restaurants, hospitals and hotels will now need to have trash, recycling and organic waste containers available along with signage educating customers on how to use these new systems. This will be at the expense of the businesses themselves — something Marshall pointed out to the city council. 

While the city will be required to audit customers to ensure they are complying with the new organic waste disposal regulations, Marshall said, “The city and any partners will be sure to abide by laws respecting privacy and the authority limitations outlined in the legislation.”

Questions about SB 1383 and upcoming regulations may be directed to the city by visiting sandimasca.gov/trash-and-recycling or contacting Lauren Marshall at [email protected]. You can also reach Waste Management representative Donald Taylor-Stewart at [email protected]. Commercial customers can get more information at business.wm.com/san-dimas. Residential customers can get more information at home.wm.com/san-dimas.

Disclaimer: Isabel Ebiner, managing editor for the San Dimas Community Post and daughter-in-law of San Dimas CIty Councilmember John Ebiner, edited this story for AP Style.


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