Those getting by with cheap garbage bills by cheating will soon have their ability to use Manteca’s green yard waste and blue recycling Toters revoked.
After repeated warnings and countless efforts to educate repeat offenders who place garbage in the blue and green Toters, Manteca’s solid waste division is getting ready to step up their crackdown. On the fourth offense when they are tagged for cross contamination by city crews, solid waste workers will seize the blue and green recycling carts. So far only a few customers have had their recycling and yard waste collection privileges revoked. That number is likely to escalate significantly in the coming months.
“It has made people real angry,” noted Rexie LeStrange who oversees the city’s solid waste division. “They call up and demand to know what we expect them to do with all of their garbage.”
The only remedy open to them for weekly garbage collection is to order larger brown garbage Toters from the city. The 32-gallon Toter costs $19.78 a month, the 64-gallon Toter $25.49, and the 96-gallon Toter $30.02.
LeStrange said intentional cross-contamination of recyclables with yard waste is forcing upwards of 54 tons of recyclables and yard waste to be buried each month in the Bay Area. That’s 19 percent of the 600 tons Manteca collects each month.
What happens is the firm that takes the city’s green waste and recyclables isn’t able to cleanly sort through truckloads that have significant contamination. As a result they are landfilled at a cost of $88 a ton. Each month an average of 114 tons of recyclables and yard waste have to be buried because of garbage contamination. That costs the city over $120,000 a year.
“We haven’t had a rate increase since 2006,” LeStrange said. “But things like garbage contamination and such can force them to go higher.”
The city doesn’t want to see that happen. While they can’t control things such as fuel and landfill costs, they can cut off repeat offenders.
That means the end to free recycling and yard waste collection for those customers.
“We are one of the few cities that don’t charge for recycling and green waste,” LeStrange said. “Manteca also has the lowest garbage rates in the valley.”
And LeStrange said it is the city’s job to do everything they can to keep it that way hence the removal of blue and green Toters from offending customers.
There are an estimated 300 habitual offenders citywide.
LeStrange said it started to get worse as the recession deepened with people switching down to smaller garbage Toters to save money.
Despite the city’s efforts to manage the situation through warnings and education, the contamination has continued to grow.
Any type of garbage is unacceptable in either the blue or green Toters. LeStrange did indicated the most common things found that people may think are recyclable but aren’t include used diapers, animal feces, Styrofoam products of any kind, as well as standard kitchen waste. Among the unusual items thrown in blue Toters are lawn chairs. Although they are aluminum in part, the plastic or cloth webbing renders them unrecyclable since the firm will not waste manpower taking them apart. You can still recycle such items, however, by separating the aluminum for placement in the blue Toter and putting the rest in the garbage.
LeStrange said a small portion of the problem is attributed to early morning scavengers who beat city collection trucks to neighborhoods to fish for recyclables they can redeem for money. Often they dump the contents of the blue Toters on the ground and also will rummage through garbage looking for recyclables. Those that do clean up their mess often put everything back into the blue Toter, garbage and all.
It is a misdemeanor to take items from a city-owned Toter. LeStrange said police when they have available units will respond to complaints when residents see someone rummaging through their Toters.
Solid waste personnel will staff a booth at this weekend’s downtown Pumpkin Fair to explain recycling rules.