Garbage & Recycling
- Why did the Town change service providers?
The Town was one of the founding members of the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA). The Authority is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) made up of various cities, towns, the County and a sanitary district in San Mateo County. The Authority was created in order for these agencies to manage their own destiny of sorts by building their processing facility for waste. Each agency retained the authority and responsibility to franchise for their own waste hauler (Recology) and the SBWMA assisted by providing model franchise agreements for each agency to use for bid and agreement purposes. Ultimately, each agency ended up contracting with Recology for waste collection and through “flow control” each agency provided their waste stream to the SBWMA (essentially the various cities, towns, county and sanitary district) for processing. The SBWMA, as a JPA it is an independent governmental agency itself, contracted with South Bay Processing to operate the facility.
Over the years, the Town paid its share of the costs of operation and expansion of the processing facility (in San Carlos). Whenever debt was incurred to expand the facility’s processing plant, buy trucks, heavy equipment, etc. - the Town paid its fair share (roughly 3%-5%) of the costs involved. Most of the participating agencies have grown significantly over the years of operation of the facility. Most have grown by way of commercial and multi-family development. This development increases the processing needs at the facility and as the facility has expanded to meet that need, the Town has had to pay a share of that increase even though the Town has not grown. With recent State legislative requirements, the processing facility will need to be significantly expanded again in the near future. Much of that impact will be on the commercial, industrial and multi-family waste streams - of which, the Town has nearly zero. Nonetheless, if the Town remained a member of the SBWMA, the Town (its residents through rates) would have to pay for those expansions. In 2019, when a bond measure came before the SBWMA for expansion, the Town voted NO. We were out-voted at the SBWMA. When that same bond measure was required to be approved by each member agency (or a least a majority), the Town again, voted NO. We were again, out-voted and ultimately, the SBWMA voted to refinance and increase its bonded debt by another $20 million. At that point, the City Council opted to explore other options.
The SBWMA had outgrown the land use demographic and waste stream demographic of the Town and if we remained a member, we would (and our residents through rate increases) would continue to have to pay for expansion of programs and services that did not apply to the Town. We voted to separate from the SBWMA and use the Town’s Rate Stabilization Fund (can only be used for refuse issues) to pay off our exit cost. This was not out of the Town’s General Fund and did not result in any rate increase or tax to residents.
Simultaneously, the Town put out a Request for Bid for refuse services. Recology, because they were locked into the multi-agency agreement with the SBWMA member agencies, opted NOT to apply to continue services to the Town. In October 2020, the Town adjusted its refuse rates. Those adjustments were projected cost increases due to bringing carts more in alignment with actual costs to collect and process waste. The adjustment (the increase you see in your rates) had no relation to Greenwaste. They were designed to be effective on January 1, 2021. These were the rate revenues that Greenwaste’s contract was negotiated under. That contact took effect January 1, 2021 using the rates set under the Recology franchise.
In addition, the expansions required under the SBWMA’s facility were partially triggered by the State’s Organic Mandate under Senate Bill 1383. The SBWMA is still planning on how to comply with that regulation but they advised all member agencies to plan for increases in costs of up to 30%. Greenwaste was the sole bidder to the Town’s Request for Bid. Greenwaste’s collection and processing is also compliant from Day 1 with Senate Bill 1383. The only adjustments that the Town will see over the course of the franchise agreement are those related to increases costs for fuel, cost of living and other adjustments that are anticipated/predictable in nature. Unlike the SBWMA/Recology situation, where the Town is routinely outvoted by other members that have different processing and land use demographic needs. The Greenwaste franchise and the Town’s departure from the SBWMA allows the Town to control its own destiny and thereby control the impacts to resident’s refuse collection and processing rates over the next 20 years.
- When did Greenwaste start providing services to Atherton?
Greenwaste became the Town’s service provider effective January 1, 2021.
- Did the rates go up?
Yes and no. The Town increased its service rates under the franchise agreement with Recology in October 2020. Those rates were not effective until January 1, 2021. However, the Town changed franchisees to Greenwaste on that date as well. The rates under which the new franchise was negotiated were the Recology rates that would have been effective January 1, 2021.
However, because of Recology’s billing cycle, some residents were only billed for 2 months out of a 3-month quarter in order to terminate the service on December 31, 2020. Their new initial billing from Greenwaste was for a full quarter beginning January 1, 2021. Therefore, the final billing from Recology and the initial billing from Greenwaste cannot be effectively compared as they represent different numbers of months of service.
In addition, during the transition of services, the Town and Greenwaste discovered that the subscription service levels provided by Recology to the Town and Greenwaste during the service transition did not always match the service level provided to the resident. In some cases, the resident was receiving a higher level of service than they were being charged for under their billing services. Greenwaste will be connecting with each resident that has an incorrect attributed service level to determine exactly what service level they desire to retain and their billing will be adjusted accordingly.
- Are the service levels changing?
No. Greenwaste provides the same level of service that you currently subscribed to receive from Recology. This service level was based on the subscription levels of service provided for your residence by Recology during the month of December.
- What is the billing schedule for Greenwaste?
Greenwaste bills quarterly, during the first month of each quarter. The first bill can be expected in January with the next bill to be received in April, etc.
- When will you be changing out my carts?
The cart replacement process will begin on January 18, 2021 and will occur during a 2-3 week period. Your carts will be replaced on your service day during that period. Set all carts in their service location by 6:30am on your service day, even if they are empty. Please leave carts out until 6pm, as the replacement will occur after the carts are serviced. GreenWaste and Recology are using the same cart removal/delivery subcontractor to minimize the opportunity for disruption. You will receive the same size and number of carts you currently have based on the information in Recology’s database. Your old carts will be removed at the same time your new carts are delivered.
- What about my extra carts that I purchased separately?
The cart delivery subcontractor will be removing all carts set out at the curb. If you have additional carts that you own and wish to keep, do not bring them to the curb during the replacement period. Please also keep in mind that these customer-owned carts may only be used for incidental extra material and may not be used for regular weekly collection.
- What if I am delivered fewer carts than I set out?
All carts set out Curbside for removal during the weeks of cart transition will be removed. However, your account with Recology has a specific per cart subscription and there is a subscription fee (service and/or cart rental) associated with each cart. Only the amount of carts on that subscription will be replaced. We don’t want to begin charging for services you may not want to receive, so if you are currently paying for service on fewer carts than you set out, you will only be delivered the number and type of carts based on the information in Recology’s database. The excess carts will be removed but not replaced. In this case, a cart hanger will be left on your new carts indicating how many and what type of carts were removed and not replaced, and you can contact Customer Service if you would like to subscribe to additional services.
IN SUMMARY: If you want excess carts removed but not replaced, you can set them out; but, if you want all carts removed and replaced (increasing your subscribed service level), contact Customer Service when you receive the cart hanger. If you do not want your owned carts replaced, do not set them out during the transition weeks.
- What materials go in the gray, green and blue carts?
- Gray Carts are for Mixed Compostables: garbage, food waste and food soiled paper
- Blue Carts are for Recyclables: clean and dry paper, plastic, glass and metal
- Green Carts are for Yard Trimmings
The major change is that food waste and food soiled paper go in the Mixed Compostables cart rather than the Green Cart.
- Why is Food Waste moving to to the Gray Cart?
The updated waste-sorting practices allow Greenwaste to extract resources from all three waste streams and ensure the highest and best use of all materials recovered from those waste streams. By removing the food scraps and food soiled paper from the Green Cart, we are able to produce a higher quality end-product. The clean yard trimmings material from the Green Cart will be used to produce OMRI-listed compost, which is used in agricultural applications. When the contents of the Gray Cart are processed, the food scraps and food soiled paper will be recovered and turned into a landscape compost. Additionally, we have found that when food scraps are allowed to be mixed with yard waste, many customers still placed food waste in their garbage cart so there was food waste in both carts. This new program is designed to make it easier for customers to use while maximizing diversion from landfill.
- What is the best way to put food in the Gray Cart?
GreenWaste can accept this material in nearly any form – loose or bagged (paper, compostable plastic, plastic). Since all material is processed through the Materials Recovery Facility (and garbage material is removed), the best way for our facility to accept the material is loose. If you’d like to bag the material, the best option is a paper bag or compostable plastic bag, with plastic bags being the least desirable.
- Can I still add vegetable scraps to the Green Cart?
No. When food waste is added to the Green Cart, the material can no longer be processed into an organic-certified OMRI-listed compost. Orchard fruit and vegetables from a garden (including pumpkins) that have NOT been brought into a building for preparation for consumption may be placed in the Green Cart. However, any fruit or vegetables grown that are prepared in any fashion for consumption must go into the Gray Cart.
- What changes are being made to Backyard Services?
Backyard Service is an extra service provided by GreenWaste when the driver disembarks the vehicle to manually collect carts that are more than 5’ from the curb and not readily accessible by the collection vehicle. Backyard service allows collection in locations including a back or side yard, or other non-Curbside location. The fees are based on distance (0’ – 100’, then 50’ increments thereafter) and the total number of Gray Carts. Distance measurements begin just beyond the reach of the truck arm. NOTE: Only BLUE and GRAY Carts are eligible for new Backyard Service.
In order to make the new services cost-effective, GreenWaste is using fully-automated trucks, which means the driver does not need to exit the vehicle to collect carts. These trucks have an arm that reaches out to pick up the carts and empties the contents into the collection vehicle. The carts need to be easily accessible to the truck arm for curbside collection to occur efficiently. Backyard charges will apply when carts are set out at a location that require the driver to disembark the vehicle.
- How do I set out EXTRA Material for collection?
Extra material will be collected and additional charges will apply based on volume and material type. The first 32-gal of extra material each year will be collected for no additional charge.
MIXED COMPOSTABLE MATERIALS must be properly labeled, set out Curbside next to the Mixed Compostables cart and either:
- Placed in a rigid or otherwise durable and lidded container where combined weight of a rigid container is less than sixty (60) pounds in weight, OR
- Placed in a black or dark cinched and secured bag where the contents are less than thirty (30) pounds in weight.
RECYCLABLE MATERIALS must be properly labeled, set out Curbside next to the Recyclable Materials cart and either:
- Placed in a rigid or otherwise durable and lidded container where the combined weight of a rigid container is less than sixty (60) pounds in weight, OR
- Placed in a cinched and secured bag where the contents are less than thirty (30) pounds in weight.
CARDBOARD must be set out Curbside and secured such that the bundle or box remains intact upon lifting and:
- Flattened and bundled/ tied or otherwise secured (g. with twine or tape) in a set-out that is no larger than 3’ x 3’ x 3’, OR
- Cut and placed inside an intact cardboard box and secured (e. to prevent litter) in a set-out that is no larger than 2’ x 2’ x 2’.
YARD TRIMMINGS must be set out Curbside, and either:
- Properly labeled and placed in a rigid or otherwise durable and lidded container where the combined weight of a rigid container is less than sixty (60) pounds in weight, OR
- Woody debris that can be bundled/tied or otherwise secured where each set-out no larger than 3’ x 3’ x 3’.
- What constitutes "Excess Mixed Compostables"?
Greenwaste (and Recology) has the ability to charge for extra mixed compostable materials (gray cart material) whenever the volume of materials exceeds the capacity of the cart. This is determined in a number of ways.
- When the lid of the cart is open by eight (8) inches or more due to the material in the cart;
- When the material is not inside the cart and is instead set out at the curb pursuant to the guidelines for "extra materials";
- Where material is placed in a block or dark cinched and secured bag where the contents are less than thirty (30) pounds in weight; or
- When the set out is clearly non-conforming (contaminated yard trimmings or recyclables carts).
It is preferred that residents reach out to Greenwaste and make arrangements at least one (1) day in advance of the regular collection day for excess materials. Excess material is charged based on a 32-gallon set-out rate:
- Excess Gray Cart Material - $17.50
- Excess Blue Cart Material - $7.38
- Excess Green Cart Material - $10.75
- Can I set out household batteries & cell phones?
Residents may set out household batteries and cell phones placed on top of their Recyclable Materials Cart in clear zip-close plastic bags.
Tape the contacts/terminals of lithium and lead acid button cell batteries with clear tape prior to placing in the plastic bag.
- Can I set out used motor oil and filters?
Residents may set out used motor oil (in plastic containers with a screw on lid only) and filters (in sealed plastic bags only), next to their Blue Cart, for collection at no additional charge (limited to five (5) gallons of oil per collection. Free containers and bags can be requested by calling Customer Service.
- How is excess material collected & charged
Excess material can be placed in boxes, bags or bundles net to your cart, in an extra container, or within your cart if the lid was open eight (8) inches or more. There will be charges on your next invoice for the materials collected. For full details, see the instructions by clicking here. If materials is propping your lid open by eight (8) inches or more you have excess material.
Atherton customers receive Mixed Compostables, Recyclable Materials and Yard Trimmings service. GreenWaste Recovery's website provides additional details on specific Atherton service delivery. They can be reached by phone at 650-798-5999.
To view a PDF of the weekly service schedule - Click Here.
Trash, Recyclables and Organics Collection - Sorting Changes
Trash, recyclables and organics are collected weekly. Residents are encouraged to place the recycling containers at the curb no sooner than the evening prior to the pickup and to remove them as soon as possible after pickup, but no later than the evening of pickup.
Recyclables (Single Stream) | Garbage & Mixed Materials (Municipal Solid Waste) | Yard Trimmings
To learn about how GWR processes solid waste and recyclables visit: GreenWaste Processing Facility
Residents should first contact GreenWaste Recovery at 650-798-5999 about their concerns. In general, most problems can be resolved with a phone call. The Town's agreement requires GreenWaste to be responsive to residents' needs, and procedures are in place if there are patterns of poor customer service.
Service schedules remain the same as in previous years; but there may be some adjustments required to balance routes. Please contact GreenWaste for additional questions. To access the lookup feature on the GreenWaste website - click here.
GWR Informational Notices
Mandatory Commercial Recycling - AB 341
The new California Assembly Bill (AB) 341 requires all businesses that generate four (4) or more cubic yards of garbage per week to recycle by July 1, 2012. The specific statutory language for AB 341 can be found in the State’s Public Resources Code: PRC Division 30, Part 3, Chapter 12.8, Section 42649.
Businesses include, but are not limited to:
- Office buildings
- Strip malls
- Government offices
The purpose of the new law is to:
- Reduce garbage from landfills
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
In addition to having recycling services services provided by GreenWaste Recovery, customers can also self-haul the recyclables or arrange for pickup services.
Construction and Demolition Debris
Atherton requires applicants for demolition and building permits to execute and adhere to a Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan. Contact the Town’s Building Department for additional information.