A decision by China to refuse to take any more recyclables from foreign countries including the United States could force the City of Manteca to raise monthly solid waste rates beyond annual increases already adopted through 2021.
Public Works Director Mark Houghton informed the City Council Tuesday that staff is working on possible solutions and cost scenarios. A workshop is being planned in August so the council can adopt a game plan.
The decision by China is hitting the entire country but the impact in terms of cost is expected to be significantly higher in California. That’s because California already has a higher level of mandated recycling compared to other states.
The “easiest” solution which would be to landfill recyclables is contrary to state mandates that require cities to further reduce the amount of waste they landfill. That mandate has expensive daily fines attached for non-compliance. That’s on top of expensive per ton costs to landfill solid waste.
Manteca is being forced to deal with the issue ahead of many other cities in the region simply because the contract with the firm that takes Manteca’s municipal recyclables once they are collected is expiring.
When that contract started years ago, Manteca received payment for items that were recycled such as newsprint, cardboard, and aluminum. But as prices dropped, the payments went away in subsequent contracts. Now the city is facing the lpossibility firms will charge to take recyclables off of Manteca’s hands.
Any increase that ultimately will be made could be softened somewhat by the food waste to fuel and other cost saving initiatives the city has — or is — implementing.
Back in December of 2016 when the council approved the first solid waste increase in 12 years after Manteca kept avoiding the need to hike rates due to staff’s ability to keep finding ways to save costs, staff told the council that by 2019 new programs instituted at the time could produce higher savings allowing adopted rate hikes to be postponed. That would be especially true if the city secured additional federal or state grants for the innovative food waste to fuel project.
Now the best outcome will likely be the city being able to absorb some but not all of the additional costs regarding changes in the recycling market. That could soften any potential upward adjustments in monthly rates.
Even though none of this good news to the pocketbooks of ratepayers, Manteca is in a better position than many cities due in part to the food waste to fuel system now being constructed.
At one point Manteca had preliminary discussions with nearby jurisdictions such as Tracy about trading Manteca’s recyclables with Tracy’s food waste given that city had no viable option in place at the time for its food waste. Now that municipal recyclables except for those with California redemption value are virtually worthless, no one is likely to trade their food waste for Manteca’s recyclables. That said Manteca won’t be facing fines for burying its food waste which could make it possible for the city to get free food waste form other jurisdictions now facing the double whammy of what to do with their recyclables and food waste given burying them is not only costly but ill trigger draconian state fines.
At full implementation by 2021 of the currently adopted rates, monthly service in Manteca will still be significantly less expensive than Lathrop and Tracy as well as Lodi, roughly the same as Stockton and Modesto for medium and large carts, and higher than Ripon.
None of those cities, however, have rates in place that factor in the cost of food waste recycling that eventually will filter down to residential accounts.
The monthly rate structure as adopted is being phased in from March 2017 through January 2021.
*It will take the 35-gallon cart from $19.78 to $30.67 for a $10.85 per month increase.
*It will take the 65-gallon cart from $25.49 to $32.61 for a $7.12 per month increase
*It will take the 95-gallon cart from $30.02 to $34.33 for a $4.11 per month increase.
*It will take senior low-income cart service from $12.72 to $19.72 for a $7 per month increase.
*It will take 1-yard commercial bins picked up once a week from $67.57 to $119.80.
*It will take 2-yard commercial bins picked up once a week from $97.44 to $132.71.
*It will take 3 yard commercial bins picked up once a week from $120.05 to $145.62
*It will take 3 yard commercial bins picked up three times a week from $317.96 to $436.85.
*It will take 4-yard commercial bins picked up once a week from $146.72 to $158.53.
*It will take 4-yard commercial bins picked up three times a week from $388.31 to $475.58.
*It will take 6-yard commercial bins picked up once a week from $196.06 down to $184.34.
*It will take 6-yard commercial bins picked up three times a week from $529.42 to $553.03.
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