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The city's new organic material collection rates become effective June 1. File photo
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Encinitas adopts organics collection rates for EDCO’s new facility

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council adopted new organic material collection rates this week, as requested by EDCO, following the construction of the waste disposal company’s anaerobic digestion facility in Escondido.

The new rates will constitute an increase of just over $6 per month for most residential customers with commercial rates being based on individual reviews with EDCO.

EDCO’s anaerobic digestion facility opened earlier this year and will be taking in food waste from every city it services in San Diego, including Encinitas, in compliance with state mandates.

The facility was constructed in response to Senate Bill 1383, passed and signed into law in 2016, which aims to completely eliminate organic waste in landfills a significant contributor to methane gas in the atmosphere.

Included in the rate increase is a temporary fee of $0.94 a month for one year that allows EDCO to provide all residents with a kitchen caddy to help residents keep their organic food waste separated in the kitchen.

The new rates become effective for residential customers beginning June 1 with new rates for commercial customers coming later this fall and on a rolling basis.

It was important for the council that commercial customers be given more time before their new rates begin so they can prepare financially as well as get more time to figure out how they will now handle their food waste.

“If they do a good job, and we’ll help them do that, they will be able to see a reduction in their trash service cost that can help offset the cost of the new organics program,” said Jim Ambroso, EDCO general manager. “It really is an educational requirement to do this, to look at their specific needs. Some can accommodate it better than others.”

Public sentiment was mixed with some not able to grasp the benefit of the new process against the cost.

“If you look at it, it looks innocuous. It’s only $5.78 for me. But it represents a 40% increase, kind of crazy in this day and age,” resident Michael George said. “I’m not sure of the benefit I’m going to derive or my community friends are going to derive from this.”

Jessica Toth, executive director of the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, spoke in support of the city’s efforts to help residents keep food waste out of landfills as much as possible.

“As Encinitas makes progress toward meeting its climate action goals, service to collect food waste right from our homes with curbside pickup is going to go a long way toward addressing that plan,” Toth said. “I’m a longtime Cardiff resident and I’m happy to pay the minimal new residential hauling rate to contribute our part in supporting our environment.”

Encinitas is far from the first city in the state with a food waste collection program such as this one but Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz still acknowledged the timing was made poor coming through a pandemic that has been financially difficult for many people.

“I recognize that this is something coming out of the pandemic that is challenging. But we have a legislative imperative and so I appreciate that we are at this point,” Kranz said.

The council agreed to the new rates in a unanimous vote with Mayor Catherine Blakespear absent from the meeting.