Saying changes to recycling is costing his company $300,000 annually, Jeremy Herber, general manager of Recology Del Norte, is asking the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority board to consider a 6.12 percent rate increase.

At this point, a potential rate increase is just a request, Herber said Monday. He said he anticipates a great deal of discussion before it goes anywhere.

“For the last year and a half our costs have increased due to China’s National Sword,” Herber said, referring to a new policy that severely limits the amount of contamination in recyclable commodities China imports. “And with Julindra going out of business, we’ve incurred a lot of additional costs linked to recycling. We didn’t really ask for this prior because we didn’t really know what was going to happen in the market. Was it going to be a temporary thing? We didn’t have enough information.”

Herber’s request for a rate increase will be on the Solid Waste Board’s agenda for Tuesday. Herber also expressed concern that an idea to issue extra bags to customers for any overflow trash they may have — a preventative measure designed to curtail the amount of garbage in the local recycling stream — isn’t a viable solution.

In a letter to Solid Waste Management Authority Director Tedd Ward, Herber stated that purchasing bags is an additional expense and changing Recology’s bulky item pick-up program would confuse customers. Herber recommended the board come up with a permanent solution and use the idea for extra bags as a transitional tool.

“I don’t mind doing it as a transition into something,” Herber told the Triplicate on Monday. “But what is that something?”

Solid Waste Authority Board Chair Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore came up with the idea of issuing overflow bags for customers whose trash wouldn’t fit in their cart. In addition to issuing an extra bag, the option would bump someone to a 60-gallon garbage cart if they were found with trash in their recycling container.

At the Solid Waste Authority’s Aug. 21 meeting, Inscore said he didn’t want to charge people for the extra bags.

“I looked at it from a standpoint of a label and that for a customer that has service, every year you get a couple of extra pickups of a bag,” Inscore said on Aug. 21. “That doesn’t make anybody any money, but it may address the problem of contamination. If we’re charging them the rate they’re already being charged to buy the bag, I can tell you what’s going to happen with that, nothing.”

At its Aug. 21 meeting, the Solid Waste board agreed to continue to discuss and potentially refine the concept of bags for overflow trash.

Recology Del Norte has collected the community’s recycling for 30 years. Its current franchise contract with the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority went into effect July 2011 and is expected to expire June 30, 2023.

According to Herber, since Julindra Recycling terminated its contract with Recology and as a result of changes to the recycling market overall, Recology Del Norte has incurred additional expenses.

These include $40,784 to rent a warehouse to transfer mixed recycling and process cardboard, $97,740 in trucking costs to transport recycling to the processing facility in Samoa and $135,253 in processing costs at the Recology Humboldt facility in Samoa, according to a breakdown of additional costs Herber provided the Solid Waste Authority. Herber said there has also been a $30,420 impact franchise fee impact.

Tuesday’s meeting will be the first time the Solid Waste Board has seen Herber’s request for a rate increase, so how that would potentially impact customers is too soon to say, Ward told the Triplicate on Monday.

“This does not mean that the board will in any way approve this,” Ward said. “Even if the board were to approve it, and I would not anticipate that they would, but even if they were, there would then be discussions about how such a rate increase would be implemented.”

Ward also noted that trash rates can be structured several different ways and even if the board approved a 6.12 percent increase that may not be the rate an individual customer sees.

“The standard collection service is a 30-gallon trash cart plus recycling,” Ward said. “Right now part of their concerns we’re discussing is some people subscribe to a lower size trash cart and the overflow goes into recycling, and that’s part of the problem we’re trying to solve. Recology has said they believe contamination will go down if the standard size is a 60-gallon cart, but at this point, the board has not committed to that.”

Since the Solid Waste Authority Board was made aware of the contamination problem in the local recycling stream in early 2017, it has acted to ban black and opaque plastic bags from the blue recycling carts. The Solid Waste Authority board also moved a community recycling bin from the fairgrounds to the Del Norte Transfer Station.

However, the Solid Waste Authority board rejected other proposed solutions, such as establishing a 96-gallon trash cart as Recology Del Norte’s standard collection service and removing community recycling bins in the northern part of the county.

The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority board will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Flynn Center, 981 H Street in Crescent City. Agendas are available at www.recycledelnorte.ca.gov.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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