Eureka to Hold Workshop on Universal Garbage and Recycling Collection
The Eureka City Council recently authorized the workshop to initiate a community discussion on the idea of utilizing a universal garbage/recycling collection system to help the city increase its State mandated recycling rate, and reduce waste, blight, and public health hazards. Such a system would call for all eligible households in Eureka to participate in a curbside collection program, and would greatly reduce the amount of recyclable materials currently being sent to city landfills.
Since 1991, the City of Eureka (and all cities and counties in California) have been mandated under California legislation AB 939 (1989 CA Integrated Waste Management Act) to divert 50% of its waste stream out of landfills through recycling, reuse and reduction programs. Currently, the city’s diversion rate is 44%.
At the workshop, city staff will outline the City of Eureka’s current standing with the State Integrated Waste Management Board, and envision how a universal collection system could function in Eureka. The City will seek to solicit comments and suggestions from the public on the idea of a universal collection program to assist the City in meeting the State’s mandate. Representatives from the City Garbage Company of Eureka will also be in attendance to assist with questions.
The City wishes to provide the public with opportunities to work with city staff in offering a universal collection program which works best for the community. Staff also wishes to learn about the public’s preferences for such a program or other programs which may better accomplish the State’s 50% mandate and objectives.
A universal collection program offers the city a tremendous opportunity to increase waste diversion and meet the State mandate. There are approximately 8,900 residential households in Eureka. Of those, approximately 5,300 households currently utilize the City Garbage Company to pick up their garbage curbside once a week. Of these 5,300 existing households, only about 1,050 utilize the existing curbside recycling program today. This equates to roughly 20% of all existing City Garbage residential customers in Eureka using the curbside recycling program, and roughly 12% of all potential households.
Increasing this relatively low participation rate would significantly increase the city’s waste diversion rate. The city is hopeful that its solution to achieving the 50% State mandate lies in adopting a universal/mandatory curbside recycling and garbage collection program together with future projects such as a regional compost facility and commercial food waste diversion programs.
The City of Eureka currently offers or participates in numerous recycling programs in an effort to get the city to a 50% diversion rate, including voluntary residential curbside recycling, two (2) neighborhood recycling drop sites, a recycling buy back center (at the transfer station), home composting bins, zoo waste composting, annual telephone book and Christmas tree recycling, business waste audits, green waste recycling, coupons for free disposal (diversion) of appliances and large bulky goods, a public schools education program (classroom lesson plans), newsletters and public education, sidewalk recycling bins (Old Town and Henderson Center), public park grass recycling, SBC telephone book recycling guide, household hazardous waste collection, motor oil recycling, special collection events, and others.
A garbage and recycling collection system which enables all citizens to participate will provide many benefits to Eureka. The system will greatly increase the city’s recycling tonnage through a two-stream collection system (either 2 stackable bins or a rolling cart with two compartments), and will improve opportunities to someday expand the program for additional recyclable materials like greenwaste. Additional key local benefits include
It will reduce illegal disposal and blight in Eureka.
Improve local sanitation.
Reduce public health hazards in Eureka. Reduce traffic at the Eureka transfer station and on city streets.
Conserve energy resources.
Improve Eureka’s State mandated waste diversion rate.
Reduce or eliminate the possibility of fines ($10,000/day) through a State Compliance Order.
Improve Eureka’s standing with the State Waste Board. Demonstrate local leadership in regional recycling efforts.
At the workshop, staff expects to gather information and local preferences about the program. Staff then may eventually bring back a draft Universal Collection ordinance to the City Council which reflects what is learned through the public workshop and other outreach processes.
For further information on the workshop, please contact Gary M. Bird, Special Projects Manager for the City of Eureka at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 707-441-4165.