Manteca is in the process of finding vendors to take municipal recyclables.
Deputy Director of Public Works Peni Basalusalu indicated a couple of vendors are preparing to submit proposals to take the city’s recyclables.
“The market for recyclables has been improving,” Basalusalu said on Tuesday.
Three years ago Manteca — along with cities across the nation — was unable to find vendors to take their recyclables due to overseas buyers raising their standards. Contrary to public perception most people have never been vigilant about items they placed in their blue recycling carts.
As a result there has always been a high level of contamination in recyclables. China and other Southeast Asia countries that were the primary market for this country’s recyclables raised their standards, refusing to accept contaminated recyclables that they end up having to bury.
When the city was unable to find anyone to take its recyclables back in 2018 and was forced to bury them at the landfill was costing them $52.38 a ton at the time, the contamination rate in blue carts was averaging around 40 percent citywide.
It has since dropped down to 20 percent.
The city’s current rate structure doesn’t include the cost of burying recyclables.
Typically contracts for recyclables can have the city receiving a set amount per ton, not charging the city, or the city paying a fee.
The vendors that the city is working with will sort the recyclables they receive if they end up reaching a deal with Manteca.
The fact the city has significantly reduced the contamination in blue carts through cooperating customers via an education program has enabled the city to attract a vendor. Even so, residents may be required to further reduce contamination in order to snag a vendor.
By making sure what is placed in blue carts can be recycled, ratepayers are helping reduce costs which in turn takes off some pressure to raise rates.
A tightening of quality standards that led many nations that have been taking United States recyclables meant that contamination levels that had been acceptable for years no longer are.
The biggest impact has been all paper products including newspapers and magazines as well as paperboard items such as cereal and shoe boxes as well as glass no longer having recycling value and having to be buried.
That said Manteca residents as a whole weren’t helping matters. A Feb. 14, 2019 audit of a truckload of 6,360 pounds collected from blue carts on a route with 490 homes reflected a contamination rate of 68.9 percent compared to 73.4 percent in a similar audit conducted in 2014. The contamination number would have been a bit lower in February as the 2014 audited tallied clean paper and paperboard and glass as recyclable.
The 2019 audit, however, revealed a lot of items that qualify as pure garbage then and as pure garbage five years prior. Among the items found were a suitcase, baby stroller, greasy pizza boxes, soiled disposable diapers, food waste and other garbage.
Sometimes it isn’t just the homeowner who is using the blue cart for garbage. Residents who have placed blue carts that weren’t even half-filled at curbside report that a short time later someone comes along and fills it to the brim and then some with garbage
City officials have said that is also happening to many businesses with large bins. Even with locked bins and secured storage areas for them people not connected with the commercial account will leave large items such as mattresses.
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