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Waste: Residents question what goes in which bin, with fines coming soon

File photo, green waste and recycling collection bins. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
With Republic Services set to begin issuing fines for improperly sorted waste, Citrus Heights residents are asking how to sort their waste under the guidelines.

Since the implementation of SB 1383 last year, Republic Services — the city’s waste collection provider — has engaged in community outreach and education campaigns to help residents understand the guidelines for sorting organic waste, recycling, and household trash.

Residents can find information on Republic Services’ website, or in mailers including the 2023 Customer Service Guide Calendar, the company said.

A Sentinel staff review of the company’s website showed waste disposal guides at the bottom of the recycling guide page in multiple languages. Other information is available from the CalRecycle website.

Guidelines published on the website show food items such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, cheese, and fruits and vegetables should go in the green waste cart. Paper plates, pizza boxes, tea bags, egg shells, and bones can also be combined with yard waste in the organics cart.

Paper, paper bags, cardboard, plastic containers, metal cans, aluminum and glass are still accepted in the recycling cart, the website shows. A tool on the city’s website also allows residents to type in the type of item they want to dispose of, with an answer generated showing which bin to place the item. (Click here)

Items that are not organic, or cannot be recycled can be placed in the garbage cart. These include styrofoam plates and packaging, plastic bags and gloves, sponges, toys, tools, and liquid containers that are a mix of plastic and cardboard such as some milk cartons.

Republic Services told The Sentinel that employees have been inspecting carts since the policy went into effect July 2022, and carts found to have a significant amount of contamination are tagged with an educational flyer.

The surcharge is part of an enforcement component required by SB 1383, the company said.

“Senate Bill 1383 requires that municipalities and haulers have an enforcement mechanism to ensure the right materials are placed in the correct container, as such, the current penalty for repeat infractions is $22.77.”

When asked if a program similar to Placer County’s One Big Bin initiative might be possible, where residents use one trash bin and sorting takes place at the processing facility, Republic Services said they do not operate facilities where sorting can take place.

“Republic Services strives to capture the highest quantity and quality of recyclable material, so we do not operate mixed waste processing facilities where trash is commingled with recyclables or organic waste,” the company said.

A company media spokesperson said Republic Services is still assessing the effectiveness of the outreach program.

The organic waste recycling program, initiated with the passage of Senate Bill 1383 by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016, aims to reduce methane emissions by reducing the amount of organic waste in landfills. The law requires jurisdictions to provide weekly organic waste collection services, or face hefty penalties.

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