DEL MAR — Del Mar residents could see waste collection rates increase by up to 30% beginning in July as the city prepares to work with a new waste hauler and continues to implement state-mandated organic recycling programs.
Since contracting with waste hauler Waste Management in 1999, the city has proposed new collection rates increase regularly every five years, with the last regular increase occurring in 2017. Residents also saw a 10% hike in 2020 when the city began diverting green waste such as food scraps, yard trimmings and cardboard to composting facilities rather than landfills in compliance with state guidelines.
This time around, proposed monthly rate hikes for residential customers could range from $3.30 to around $6 for weekly service, depending on the size of the bin, bringing monthly totals to around $25 for a 35-gallon bin, $29 for a 64-gallon, and $30 for a 96-gallon.
Commercial customers and multi-family units could see a modest $3.70 increase from the current $132 rate for weekly trash pickup. Meanwhile, recycling collection rates are proposed to increase by around $73 for a total cost of around $115.
According to assistant city attorney Kristen Crane, when the city council was provided a breakdown of sample customer service rates for the three waste hauling applicants vying for the city’s next 10-year contract — current hauler Waste Management, EDCO Disposal Corp. and Republic Services — EDCO proposed the lowest rates of the three applicants.
Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland said she was surprised to receive notice of the proposed rate increases. While the council unanimously voted in late February to award the city’s next 10-year waste hauler contract to EDCO Disposal Corp. over Waste Management, partially due to a projected $2 million in savings for the city, she said there was no discussion of future rate increases at that time.
“I’m disappointed that the rate hikes are coming to the council after choosing a contract. If going to EDCO included hikes to the people of Del Mar, and now we’re obligated to recover that, then I feel like it should have been two votes at the same time,” Gaasterland said.
The City Council will consider the proposed rates during a virtual public hearing at 4:30 p.m. on May 16. If approved by the council, new rates will go into effect July 1, according to the city.
Del Mar’s contract with Waste Management will expire in June, and at that point, the city will begin services with EDCO, which will oversee the implementation of the organics recycling program beginning in July.
Senate Bill 1383 requires all California jurisdictions to begin implementing organics recycling — the process of separating green waste from trash and recyclables — by this year, with the goal of reducing methane emissions in landfills. Jurisdictions must provide organics collection services to residents and businesses, and use appropriate facilities to recycle those materials into resources like biofuel, electricity, or compost.
According to Gaasterland, EDCO has proposed composting green waste locally and utilizing waste methane that would otherwise go into the atmosphere to power collection trucks.
“Keeping it local and keeping it greener is something that I’m very much in favor of,” she said. “I am excited that we as a community will be making our organic waste not go to waste.”
Jurisdictions were required to help the state to cut the amount of organic waste in local landfills by 50% as of 2020, with the goal post moving to 75% by 2025. Green waste accounts for around half of the solid waste in California landfills, CalRecycle estimates.
Green waste bins are currently optional for Del Mar residents, but will eventually become a requirement for residential customers, who will also be responsible for separating green materials from other waste.
While EDCO will ease residential customers into the new organics recycling landscape this year by starting with outreach and education, some commercial customers will face additional monthly rates for mandatory organics recycling service starting in July. Fees will range from around $74 to $98 based on bin size.
Certain food businesses will also be required to begin donating edible food that would otherwise be disposed of to local food recovery organizations.
Residents can provide feedback on the proposed rates by joining the May 16 hearing virtually via Zoom at us02web.zoom.us/i/84790910014 with Meeting ID 847 9091 0014, or by calling 669-900-6833.
CLARIFICATION: The article was amended to note that of the three waste hauling applicants — EDCO, Waste Management and Republic Services — EDCO had the lowest rates.