Local
January 23, 2018
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Bottom Line: It costs more if we donít recycle

By: Family Features
January 12, 2018

In January 2018, Recology of San Francisco replaced The Ratto Group as Santa Rosa’s garbage hauler. As goes Santa Rosa so goes the rest of the county. Curbside residential rates are expected to increase by 58 percent. If you’re paying $16.97 a month now, expect it to rise to $26.85. Commercial rates will increase by an even greater percentage. Yet, these new rates are still 7 - 18 percent below industry standards for similar size communities in Northern California. One reason these rates seem so high is because Ratto was charging 42 - 48 percent below the average rate. They were able to achieve this, in part, by paying drivers an average of $16 an hour while line recyclers received barely more than the state minimum wage of $10.50 an hour.

Ratto’s below average rates bought us below average service and a dismal environmental record. The deal was a 45 percent diversion rate. A diversion rate is the percentage of trash kept out of our landfill through recycling, composting and repurposing. What we got was a 36 percent diversion rate. The Standish Avenue Recycling Center was closed by the health department. Ratto’s trucks polluted heavily and frequently broke down which led to poor customer service. A 2015 lawsuit shut down Sonoma Compost and we’ve been out-sourcing compost ever since. Up until recently, Ratto employees lacked union protections resulting in few wage increases, dangerous working conditions (garbage and recycling workers are in the fifth most dangerous profession in America), extended work hours and unsafe trucks. 

Recology is a union shop and has been since the 1930s. Their diversion rate for San Francisco is 80 percent. In Los Angeles, they are aiming for 90 percent by 2025. The goal in Santa Rosa is 60 percent by 2029. 

They also plan on introducing a new fleet of trucks and containers. They will expand services, upgrade the Standish Avenue site and try to bring composting back to Sonoma County. Until that happens, Recology’s six composting facilities will absorb the compost. Critical to their success is eco-education. Zero waste specialists will help customers, both commercial and residential, improve their recycling and composting while reducing their trash. For us to reach zero waste, customer buy-in is needed. Consider what a one degree climate change has brought us to date: unprecedented hurricanes, mass migrations, droughts and, of course, fires.  It looks like October’s fires weren’t started by climate change, but climate change most certainly exacerbated them. Proper waste disposal is one way we can reduce the effects of climate change.

Per courtesy of Recology.