Environmental mandates, economic changes, and a growing demand for sustainable practices are all changing the way we look at trash. Laws are changing, landfills are closing, and greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise. Businesses and residencies are being required to address their waste more mindfully, not only to achieve compliance with governmental mandates but to combat significant increases in waste management expenditures.
Environmental mandates are becoming more and more aggressive throughout the country with California setting an impressive goal to reduce organic waste going to landfills by 50% in four years via Assembly Bill 1826 as follows:
- April 1, 2016:Businesses that generate 8 cubic yards of organic waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
- January 1, 2017:Businesses that generate 4 cubic yards of organic waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
- January 1, 2019:Businesses that generate 4 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
- Summer/Fall 2021:If CalRecycle determines that the statewide disposal of organic waste in 2020 has not been reduced by 50 percent of the level of disposal during 2014, the organic recycling requirements on businesses will expand to cover businesses that generate 2 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week. Additionally, certain exemptions may no longer be available if this target is not met.
With so many businesses falling under the above categories and with such limited organic waste recycling options, waste haulers will end up being the primary resource for the collection and transportation of separated organic waste. Waste haulers will require more equipment, man power, and fuel for transportation which will be projected on to their paying customers. Couple this with the escalating labor costs due to the raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023 and the inevitable increase in fuel prices and we can see the immense change coming to the once meager trash bill. On top of all of this, last year, San Diego approved revisions to the city’s municipal code’s recycling ordinance requiring food waste to be collected and transported by licensed franchised haulers only in order to provide funding for their Zero Waste Plan. The City of Los Angeles recently awarded trash hauling contracts as well, allowing only a few trash companies exclusive rights to collect for commercial locations and large apartment complexes. These franchising agreements inevitably shut down small food waste recycling companies, eliminating competition and again leading to growing prices.
California business owners are going to have to decide whether to succumb to the ever-increasing monthly fees presented by waste haulers or discover ways to reduce their organic waste at the point of generation in order to bypass escalating fees.