Food Waste Composting

Background

The Board authorized a survey at its March 8 meeting (see agenda Item 9.b.) because (1) there has been strong interest in allowing food waste to composted with green waste, (2) proposed regulations would, if adopted, require food waste to be diverted from landfills, and (3) the compost facility has said it has capacity for our food waste if we expand our contract now but may not have sufficient capacity to add this service for us if we delay. A Letter to the Editor describing the survey did not make the print edition but was printed in the April Outlook online edition of the Outlook. 

At present, incidental produce from gardens can be added to green waste but no other food waste.  According to our County representative, food waste from the kitchen has the potential to have human pathogens and must be picked up weekly.  Because of the need for weekly pickup of food waste, Bay View has proposed a 7% rate increase for the increase service from 24 pickups a year under our current bi-monthly service to 52 pickups a year – a 200% increase in service for an additional 7%.

The Board will have a meeting on the topic of food waste composting sometime in the near future to discuss the results of the survey and whether to expand our existing contract to include food waste composting. Representatives from Bay View and our waste consultant from HF&H will attend.

Draft Regulations Requiring Food Waste Diversion

The State’s draft SB 1383 regulations require that jurisdiction’s implement organics collection programs, including food waste collection, for all residential and commercial generators. If draft regulations are adopted with this requirement, which is likely according to parties involved in the rulemaking process, food waste collection and composting will be required as of January 1, 2022. At present, incidental produce from gardens can be added to green waste but no other food waste. According to our County representative, food waste from the kitchen has the potential to have human pathogens and must be picked up weekly. In fact, State regulations require weekly collection of food waste, pursuant to State Regulations, Title 14, Chapter 3, Public Resources Code Section 17331.

Bay View’s Rates Compared to Central Contra Costa County Rates

Residential collection rates are dependent on numerous factors and, thus, rate comparisons must compare like with like to the extent possible. Areas with large commercial and/or industrial customers can use the income from those businesses to offset residential rates such as the rates in several cities in Central Contra Costa County. Some cities charge more for “hard-to-serve” areas defined as areas in hilly terrain or narrow streets, areas that describe Kensington.  Many jurisdictions charge more for green waste beyond one or two containers. Kensington has narrow streets, hilly terrain, only two small commercial areas, and has unlimited green waste collection.

Table 1 compares the hard-to-serve rates for garbage collection in Kensington and several cities in Central Contra Costa County.  Kensington’s current rates ($41.65/20 gal and $45.65/32 gal) are lower than Lafayette’s rates ($43.21/20 gal and $47.56/32 gal) and Orinda’s rates ($55.47/20 gal and $60.25/32 gal) even without the additional charge of $10.71 for backyard service. These cities also charge for additional green waste beyond the one 64- or 96-gallon wheeled cart that residents in those areas must use.  Kensington is considered a High Fire Hazard area and it is beneficial to have our green waste removed.

Table 2 compares Kensington’s likely 2019 rates (7% for weekly food/green waste and likely 3% increase allowed under out contract) with those same cities adjusted with their average annual increase based on the rate history for past four years. Kensington’s likely rates ($45.82/20 gal and $50.22/32 gal) are comparable to Lafayette’s ($45.42/20 gal and $50.00/32 gal) and lower than Orinda’s ($48.31/2o gal and $63.33/32 gal), and lower than Danville ($46.87/20 gal and $49.46/32 gal), Lafayette ($53.92/20 gal and $58.27/32 gal) and Orinda ($66.18/20 gal and $70.96/32 gal). 

Table 1
2018 Rate Comparison with Central Contra Costa Cities

 

Kensington

Danville

Lafayette

Moraga

Orinda

Walnut Creek

20-gallon

$41.65

$36.16

$43.21

$27.94

$55.47

$19.35

20-gallon with backyard service

$41.65

$46.87

$53.92

$38.65

$66.18

$30.06

32-gallon

$45.65

$38.75

$47.56

$32.26

$60.25

$22.84

32-gallon with backyard service

$45.65

$49.46

$58.27

$42.97

$70.96

$33.55

 

Table 2
Likely 2019 Rate Comparison with Central Contra Costa Cities

 

Kensington

Danville

Lafayette

Moraga

Orinda

Walnut Creek

20-gallon

$45.82

$38.01

$45.42

$29.37

$58.31

$20.34

20-gallon with backyard service

$45.82

$48.72

$56.13

$40.08

$69.02

$31.05

32-gallon

$50.22

$40.73

$50.00

$33.91

$63.33

$24.03

32-gallon with backyard service

$50.22

$51.44

$60.71

$44.62

474.04

$34.73

 

Kensington Rates Compared to Rates of Nearby Cities

Albany, El Cerrito, and Berkeley all use “automated collection” and have limitations or additional charges for backyard service and green waste quantities.  About two-thirds of Kensington subscribe to the 32/35 gallon service level, and Bay View’s rates for this service are comparable to those of El Cerrito and Albany.  Berkeley rates are lower especially at the 20-gallon rate; however, this may be attributable to Berkeley having a substantial commercial and industrial base. 

Table 3
Rate Comparison with Albany, El Cerrito and Berkeley

 

Kensington

Albany

El Cerrito

Berkeley

Service Company

Bay View

Waste Management

East Bay Sanitary Company co

City of Berkeley

20 gallon

$41.65

$38.09

$35.54

$25.43

20 gallon with backyard service

$41.65

$53.53

Only for senior and disabled

Mandatory curbside service Backyard service only for seniors or disabled

32/35 gallon

$45.65

$42.65

$47.14

$40.68

32/35 gallon with backyard service

$45.65

$58.09

Only for senior and disabled

Mandatory curbside service Backyard service only for seniors or disabled

 

Kensington Rates Compared to Rates of Sausalito and Piedmont

Not surprisingly, labor costs are a significant factor in garbage rates.  Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito and the cities in Central Contra Costa County all use “fully-automated” collection vehicles with mechanical side arms that automatically lifts carts containing garbage, green waste, or recyclables without the driver leaving the vehicle. This automation reduces collection time and labor costs as only one employee is needed to drive and operate the vehicle.  The system employed by Bay View relies on a “semi-automated” lift system and customer-provided containers and is more labor intensive and physically demanding on its employees.  Bay View employees have to manually empty materials from our containers into their containers, take their containers to the street, and empty them into their trucks using a ”semi-automated” lift device. This is the same system used in Piedmont and Sausalito.

Significantly, rates in Piedmont doubled this past year.  Piedmont explained that it received only one bid and that two other potential bidders declined to provide a bid. One declined because the requirement of backyard service would create an unacceptable risk of injury to its employees. Piedmont noted that it has hilly, narrow streets and a very small commercial area which results in higher rates than other areas.

Table 4 compares Kensington rates with those in Sausalito and Piedmont. Kensington rates are comparable to Sausalito and significantly lower than Piedmont.  Note that backyard service is only available in Piedmont if there is no able bodied person in the house.

Table 4
Rate Comparison with Sausalito and Piedmont

 

Kensington

Sausalito

East of 101

Sausalito

West of Highway 101

Piedmont

20 gallon

$41.65

$41.35

$43.15

$79.84

20 gallon with backyard service

$41.65

$41.35

$43.15

$122.17

32 gallon

$45.65

$41.35

$43.15

$84.60

32 gallon with backyard service

$45.65

$41.35

$43.15

$126.93

 

Wheeled Carts

There has been a lot of discussion about the wheeled carts. Bay View is not requiring that we use wheeled carts but would very much appreciate if residents would use wheeled carts because they could be directly hooked up to the back of the truck and emptied. Bay View understands that some residents may not generate a lot of food waste and is considering additional options.

Survey and Future Community Input

The Board will have a meeting on the topic of food waste composting and wheeled carts sometime in the near future, where survey results will be presented and additional public comment will be received.