With local residents receiving those extra green yard waste bins recently, along with higher garbage bills, city officials Monday offered clarity on the situation.
In particular, Hollister City Council members and other officials underscored how the new yard waste bins, which are now given to all Recology customers in the county, are part of an effort to reduce landfill waste to acceptable levels as required by the state.
Previously, about 40 percent of Hollister customers had voluntarily received the green bins, officials said Monday.
The two local cities and San Benito County in the past several months agreed to a new 10-year franchise agreement with Recology for waste pickup services, with the company beating out two other bidders for the contracts. Hollister council members approved the city’s agreement June 18, and it has resulted in increased bills for customers to go with the new green waste bin.
Although customers can opt out of having a green waste bin in the three local jurisdictions, they are required to continue paying the additional fee, said Kevin McCarthy with Integrated Waste Management at Monday’s gathering.
McCarthy explained that the “big driver” for the changes — local governments included the green bins as a minimum requirement for bidders — was the county’s failure to meet a state mandate for 50 percent reduction in solid waste to the local landfill. He said there had been a “handshake deal” with the state to avoid a compliance order as long as local governments implemented programs to reduce it.
The yard waste program is not mandated, but it’s the means to an end for the reduction, and McCarthy said he didn’t know of any other local jurisdictions in the region without one.
“When we spoke to CalRecycle, they said that is probably the single most important thing you can do” to meet the landfill mandate, he said.
That’s where the green bin program comes into play. McCarthy also noted how customers can start using the bins for food waste Nov. 1 as well.
“It’s interesting — just driving around the city today, you already see these green carts full around the city,” McCarthy said.
The waste bins have upset some customers, whether it be the added price or other factors. For local resident Patty Hill, who spoke at Monday’s meeting, it came down to other factors over price.
“My main concern is with that green one, the yard waste, and I’m very concerned about fly issues and odor issues,” she said.
A Recology official Monday said if customers are overwhelmed by those issues, the company will come out and exchange the carts with others.