Taking out the trash: Starting this month, Waste Management customers will begin to get letters when their bins aren’t closed completely or if they contain prohibited items | TheUnion.com

Taking out the trash: Starting this month, Waste Management customers will begin to get letters when their bins aren’t closed completely or if they contain prohibited items

It might sound like science fiction, but it’s just the latest in trash regulations.

Overfilled garbage bins and misplaced items will result in surcharges placed on customers’ bills when Waste Management rolls out new plans aimed at correcting the behavior.
Photo: Elias Funez

Waste Management has begun using Smart Truck technology to photograph yard waste and recycling carts in an effort to crack down on overfilled bins and contaminated recycling.

Starting this month, county Waste Management customers will begin to receive letters when their bins are unable to close completely or if they contain prohibited items.

According to Waste Management spokesperson Paul Rosynsky, plastic bags are the most frequent culprit. Other prohibited items include palm leaves, scotch broom, poison oak, Himalayan blackberry, tree stumps, root balls, and items with a diameter greater than six inches.

“Whenever we find an incident, we’re sending letters to customers to let them know what we found,” Rosynsky said.

According to Rosynsky, warnings will begin to tally up in March.

After two warnings for overfilled carts, customers can be charged $10.32 for each additional warning. After three warnings for contamination, customers may have their recycling or yard waste carts removed, which includes a $25.79 fee.

“As soon as you put contamination in the yard waste, it gets collected with all the other yard waste from the route,” Rosynsky explained. “If there’s contamination in that one cart, it has a really good possibility of contaminating the entire load of yard waste, because it all gets mixed together.”

Rosynsky said often offering a larger trash cart can solve the issue, since people sometimes use their recycling or yard waste bins instead or by mistake.

Waste bins with open lids, or refuse that is exposed out the top, may soon mean higher bills for Waste Management customers.
Photo: Elias Funez

Ultimately, Rosynsky said the goal is to reduce the amount of trash that spills onto streets and waterways, increase the amount of recyclable material, and get a head start on further landfill regulations coming next year.

In its last meeting the Grass Valley City Council received an update on coming Senate Bill 1383 regulations that take aim at organic waste in landfills, and would audit the amount of food jurisdictions are throwing away.

The conversation centered around the state-mandated costs associated with the recycling regulations which came with no additional state funding. The state in enacting the regulations argued local jurisdictions or school districts could fund the changes, which impose a 75% reduction in organic food waste by 2025.

“We’re already having huge issues with normal recycling. China’s not taking a lot of our products.” Mayor Ben Aguilar said at the meeting. “It just absolutely frustrates me.”

While not directly related to SB 1383, Rosynsky said these changes would begin to give decision makers more information as they navigate those coming regulations.

“It provides more information,” he said. “How jurisdictions want to use that information is up to them in terms of how it relates to the regulation.”

Rosynsky emphasized Waste Management would be looking for the most egregious offenders, particularly large items and plastic bags.

“No, we won’t be able to read your junk mail or anything like that.”

A Waste Management recycling bin awaits to be emptied in downtown Grass Valley Tuesday. According to new rules being rolled out by Waste Management, fines could be levied if bins are overfilled, or if refuse items are placed in the wrong bins.
Photo: Elias Funez

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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