A Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority committee tasked with reviewing the collections franchise agreement with Recology Del Norte has some new faces.

Although SWMA Board Chair Blake Inscore appointed his colleagues Jason Greenough and Chris Howard to an ad-hoc committee last month, Solid Waste Director Tedd Ward said the committee was unable to meet. According to the SWMA staff report in the June 12 agenda packet, Howard reported he did not have enough space in his schedule to participate in the committee, while Greenough did not respond to staff communications.

Instead Inscore and Commissioner Eli Naffah met to discuss the authority’s franchise agreement with Recology Del Norte, Ward said. On Tuesday, the SWMA Board formally appointed Inscore and Naffah to the ad-hoc committee.

Ward, pointing out the Solid Waste Management Authority’s franchise agreement with Recology Del Norte expires in five years, suggested the committee address issues with Recology topic by topic before bringing recommendations to the full board.

Issues include the size of curbside trash carts, recycling and processing, including contamination and the changing recycling markets and other potential services such as the pre-paid bag service and Christmas tree collection or bulky item collections, Ward said. Enforcement and rate structure would also be discussed, he said.

“My belief is we probably have to significantly restructure how these rates are charged in order to eliminate the incentives we currently have for people to place extra trash in the recycling bins,” Ward said.

When developing the current agreement with Recology Del Norte, the Solid Waste Management Authority worked with the Solid Waste Taskforce, Ward said. However, the task force is no longer in existence, he said.

“Bottomline, we have to figure out exactly how we’re going to discuss these negotiations so the committee doesn’t get too far ahead of the board, but the board isn’t wading through every last sentence of discussions because then all these meetings would be many many hours,” Ward said.

Included in Tuesday’s agenda packet was a June 5 email from Recology Del Norte General Manager Jeremy Herber to Ward, stating the local recycling stream continues to have 15-20 percent contamination, higher than the industry standard of 10 percent. The community recycling bins have the highest contamination level in Del Norte at 30 to 50 percent, Herber told Ward

On Thursday, Herber told the Triplicate his staff has seen a slight reduction in contamination in Recology’s commercial recycling service as well as its curbside service. He said there are some theories as to why it’s so difficult for the community to reach the industry standard of 10 percent contamination in the recycling stream, but nothing concrete.

“We feel that people are not getting the correct trash size service and any overflow is going into recycling is what we’re assuming,” Herber said. “It’s not a rich community and so a lot of people just choose trash service according to what they can afford not what they really need. That’s the theory behind it, but we’re still analyzing this now and trying to hone in on really what is the ultimate problem, what is the reason and how can we help fix it.”

Herber said he doesn’t know what garbage and recycling services in Del Norte could look like until a new agreement is negotiated. The future of the existing community recycling bins in Smith River and Fort Dick are part of those negotiations, he said.

Although the Smith River bin “tends to be the dirtiest of all recycling” bins, Herber noted that it would be difficult to remove it because of the lack of a transfer station in the community. The Solid Waste Management Authority has discussed the possibility of a northern transfer station, but Herber said he doesn’t know when that will happen.

Meanwhile, Recology Del Norte delivers three semi-truck loads of recycling a week to Recology Humboldt’s recycling plant in Samoa, Herber said. The contamination levels in those trucks can be anywhere from 18 to 25 percent, he said. That material is sorted by Recology Humboldt’s staff and automated system, he said.

“We’ve gotten as low as we’re going to get for contamination levels that we can possibly do without restructuring something and that’s one of the things (we’re) going to be going down the road on,” Herber said. “What do we do next? There are a lot of different pathways; we don’t know what we’re going to do.”