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New year, new garbage services for Santa Rosa

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For more information about Recology programs on the North Coast, visit www.recology.com/recology-sonoma-marin/

Santa Rosa’s new garbage hauler is rolling out plenty of changes for customers this New Year’s, including new plastic bins, new trucks and new rates to pay for it all.

Recology, the San Francisco-based garbage company, completed its purchase of The Ratto Group December 23, making it the dominant waste hauler on the North Coast.

Most Sonoma County residents and businesses will see few changes from the sale because Recology has merely taken over Ratto’s existing service contracts.

But beginning Jan. 1, the company began operating in Santa Rosa under a new 15-year contract that calls for sweeping new changes to the refuse service to 55,000 residential and commercial accounts.

The city hopes Recology will provide not only better service and accountability than its predecessor, but will help it achieve its environmental goals of increasing recycling and reducing the amount of garbage heading to the landfill.

“They really buy into the zero waste philosophy,” said Gloria Hurtado, deputy city manager. “They certainly have a track record of achieving good results in other communities.”Here’s a look at some of the changes in store for local garbage service under Recology.

Read more at: New year, new garbage services for Santa Rosa

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Concrete torched in Sonoma County fires being recycled for roadbeds

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Marta May lives in Bloomfield and is used to seeing trucks coming and going from the Stony Point Rock Quarry west of Cotati.

But never has she seen anything like the procession of heavy-duty dump trucks recently waiting to deliver their seemingly endless loads of rubble to the facility.

“There’s millions of them,” May said after passing the long line of trucks along Stony Point Road late last month.

Equally amazing is what they are leaving behind: a mountain of concrete chunks 30 feet high, the remains of hundreds of driveways and foundations cleared from some of the 5,100 residential properties in Sonoma County destroyed in October’s fires.

“It’s huge and it keeps getting bigger, and you wonder how much bigger that it can get,” May said.

The activity around the quarry is just one more reminder of the unprecedented scale of the fires, which scorched 137 square miles in Sonoma County, killed 24 people, and triggered the largest wildfire cleanup in the state history.

While tens of thousands of tons of ash and debris from destroyed homes is being deposited into the Sonoma County landfill, raising concerns about its future capacity, by contrast the concrete heading into the quarry will be recycled, said Mark Soiland, president of the Soiland Company, which owns the quarry.

Read more at: Concrete torched in Sonoma County fires being recycled for roadbeds

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Sonoma County fire cleanup weighs heavy on landfill

Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Although nearly 260 destroyed homesites had been cleared of their post-fire debris in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood through Nov. 19, it represents less than a quarter of the burned properties in one corner of the devastating 36,807-acre Tubbs fire.

Just those cleared sites, however, produced a mountain of ash, twisted metal and charred wood — nearly 50,000 tons, according to county officials, with all of it going to Sonoma County’s Central Landfill.

The dump west of Cotati is the main disposal site for what local and state officials are calling the biggest debris removal from a wildfire in California history.

The scorched remains of more than 5,100 Sonoma County homes are bound for the Mecham Road location for burial — loads that have spiked daily traffic from heavy-duty commercial trucks and could burn through the life expectancy for one of the North Coast’s few operating landfills between Petaluma and the Oregon border.

Other than to confirm an increase of inflows from fire debris, a spokesman for Republic Services, the Arizona-based waste giant that operates the county-owned dump, declined to offer specifics about the number of trucks or how much material is now coming through the gates. He added that it presented no need for worries over capacity.

“From where we stand, as the operators, we are not concerned,” said Russ Knocke, Republic’s vice president of communications and public affairs. “Without a doubt it’s something that will factor into overall capacity at the site, but in terms of cause for immediate concern, again, I would say no.”

Still, to handle the additional level of waste and the sudden need for a place to unload it, Republic Services requested a four-month-long emergency waiver at the end of October for its daily weight maximums. Without that, only 2,500 tons of materials from a maximum of 900 trucks are permitted each business day.

Under operations covered by the emergency waiver, on the single biggest disposal day since the fire, the Central Landfill accepted 5,800 tons — about six times the most recent year’s pre-fire average. That compares to roughly 1,000 tons of municipal solid waste per day in 2016, and less than 860 tons daily in 2015.

Read more at: Sonoma County fire cleanup weighs heavy on landfill

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U.S. EPA to oversee toxics cleanup after fires in Sonoma and Napa counties 

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Federal and state agencies are already planning post-fire cleanup in seven Northern California counties, including Sonoma, outlining long-term efforts likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars but performed at no expense to residential property owners, officials said Tuesday.

In Sonoma and Napa counties, where more than 100,000 acres have burned, the chore looms so large the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will manage the first phase, which involves removal of toxic materials from thousands of fire-scorched properties.

That includes batteries, paint, solvents, flammable liquids, electronic waste and any materials that contain asbestos.

“We know people are already back at their homes, wondering what to do next,” said Lance Klug, a spokesman for California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, known as CalRecycle. The agency typically handles the second phase, involving the removal of non-toxic waste — scraping away ash, concrete, metal and contaminated soil — in fire-affected counties, but CalRecycle’s role in the North Bay cleanup has not been determined, said Klug.

Details on the sprawling two-part cleanup are forthcoming and will be widely publicized, he said.

When that work is completed, homeowners will receive a certificate indicating their property has been cleaned and is eligible for local building permits, he said.

Read more at: U.S. EPA to oversee toxics cleanup after fires in Sonoma and Napa counties | The Press Democrat –

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Santa Rosa taps Recology as new garbage hauler 

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Low rates have long led to big headaches for The Ratto Group, the dominant waste hauler in the county, serving eight of the nine cities plus the unincorporated areas.

The company, founded by Jim Ratto, has been repeatedly criticized for cutting corners in Santa Rosa in ways that resulted in poor customer service, dangerous working conditions for workers, low recycling levels, and an aging fleet of trucks that didn’t live up to its contract with the city.

The curbside collection rates that most Santa Rosa residents pay are set to soar nearly 60 percent under a proposed 15-year contract the city has negotiated with the San Francisco-based garbage company buying its current hauler, The Ratto Group.

The city this week released details of the agreement it has struck with Recology to be the exclusive provider of the garbage, recycling and organic waste pickup services to approximately 55,000 residential and commercial accounts beginning Jan. 1.

If approved by the City Council, the deal is expected to generate $49 million in annual revenues for Recology, or $735 million over the life of the contract. The company would pay the city a 14 percent franchise fee, which would pump $7 million annually into the city’s coffers, or $105 million over the life of the agreement.

The report is the first official confirmation that Recology, one of the largest refuse providers on the West Coast, has survived a competitive and secretive selection process to ink a tentative deal with the city, a fact first reported by The Press Democrat earlier this month.

Read more at: Santa Rosa taps Recology as new garbage hauler | The Press Democrat

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Windsor chooses new garbage company, rejecting its current hauler

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After months of back and forth, political opposition, a lawsuit and threats of more lawsuits, Windsor once has again chosen a garbage hauler — for the third time since May.

The saga represents a grueling first example of the process that other local cities, including Santa Rosa, are embarking on as they renew or re-evaluate curbside garbage contracts, most of which are with the same hauler, the Santa-Rosa-based Ratto Group, which is up for sale to a San Francisco company.

For many communities, the garbage contracts are among the most lucrative deals they hand out.

In Windsor, the deal is worth more than $56 million in revenue over 10 years to the company that came out on top Wednesday night.

The Town Council voted 4-1 to award the contract to a different hauler, Sonoma County Resource Recovery, owned by the San Rafael-based Garden City Group, Marin Sanitary Service Group and its president, Kevin Walbridge.

The decision dealt another rejection to the town’s current hauler, Windsor Refuse and Recycling — co-owned by the Ratto Group — which recently sued the town and claimed the bidding process was unfair.

Read more at: Windsor chooses new garbage company, rejecting its current hauler | The Press Democrat

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After reversal, Windsor awards garbage contract to Green Waste, its first choice

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The high stakes question about which company would get Windsor’s garbage contract was finally settled Tuesday with the award going again to Green Waste Recovery Inc.

The 3-1 vote came a month after the Town Council first awarded, then rescinded a contract with the San Jose-based company because of political and legal hurdles associated with its proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station.

The final answer Tuesday was to fall back on its first decision after company representatives said they were looking to locate a transfer station closer to Windsor.“

We will not be proposing a transfer facility in Petaluma,” company spokeswoman Emily Finn said. An announcement about a new location is expected within weeks, she said. “On Day 1 we will have facilities north of Petaluma for recyclables.”

The prospect of garbage trucks on Highway 101 making a long trek from Windsor to San Jose — a distance of more than 100 miles — was one of the concerns raised by Councilman Dominic Foppoli, the lone vote against a contract with Green Waste.

But the lower residential rates and environmental practices of Green Waste earned it majority support.

Read more at: After reversal, Windsor awards garbage contract to Green Waste, its first choice | The Press Democrat

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Windsor to reconsider the town’s $52 million garbage contract 

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Just when it seemed Windsor had a new garbage hauling company for the next 10 years, the Town Council has had a change of heart, upending a multimillion dollar deal it struck last month over one of the town’s most basic municipal functions.

The move reflects political and legal hurdles facing a proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station proposed by the new operator and comes as Santa Rosa weighs its options for a new garbage contract, one of the most lucrative services that local cities outsource.

The Windsor Council on Tuesday night voted 4-1 to reconsider the contract it awarded to Green Waste Recovery Inc., citing unresolved issues over the company’s proposed Petaluma transfer station, including its proximity to residences.

As a result, four other companies that initially bid for the contract will have another shot at hauling Windsor’s commercial and residential refuse and reaping at least $52 million in revenue over 10 years.

Read more at: Windsor to reconsider the town’s $52 million garbage contract | The Press Democrat

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Oakland law firm demands Windsor review garbage contract proposals 

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

An environmental law firm that helped shut down Sonoma County’s composting operation is now taking aim at efforts by Windsor and Santa Rosa to pick a new garbage company to serve their residents.

The Oakland-based firm Lozeau Drury last week sent an 83-page letter to Windsor demanding a full environmental review of the various proposals the town has received for its 10-year garbage contract.

Attorney Richard Drury, in a letter received just a few hours before the Windsor Town Council was set to meet April 19 to pick a new garbage hauler, argued the town had failed to review the impacts on air quality, greenhouse gases and neighbors of a planned facility in southwest Santa Rosa.“There are few decisions that a town can make that have more direct environmental impacts than the determination of how to handle its garbage,” Drury wrote in his letter.

The town had concluded no environmental review was needed. In light of the letter, town attorney Robin Donoghue urged a delay until the town could review it and respond appropriately.

The move drew a sharp rebuke from Councilwoman and Mayor Debra Fudge, who viewed it more as a bid to influence the town’s selection process than protect the environment.

“I saw the CEQA letter as an effort from someone associated with one of the haulers to try to blow up our process, and I’m not happy about it,” Fudge said.

Read more at: Oakland law firm demands Windsor review garbage contract proposals | The Press Democrat

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Republic’s Sonoma County MRF (Material Recovery Facility) expansion makes room for new material lines 

Cole Rosengren, WASTE DIVE

These facilities and many others are part of the ongoing trend that has made single-stream material recovery facilities predominant in the U.S. Recently announced advances in artificial intelligence indicate this shift could accelerate in coming years with a move toward greater efficiency and potentially less need for human labor.

Republic Services recently announced an expansion of the Sonoma County Recycling Center in Petaluma, CA that increases capacity to 200 tons per day.

The facility grew to 38,000-square-feet to accommodate a new processing system from the CP Group. This made room for multiple new material lines, a baler and a bale storage area to protect sorted material from the weather.

A multi-year analysis from the county and multiple municipalities pointed to self-haul material, commercial dry waste and construction and demolition waste as three areas to focus on. As a result, the facility now has a new in-feed conveyor for commercial cardboard, mixed paper, containers, film and plastics and a hopper-fed C&D system with sorting stations.

Read more at: Republic’s Sonoma County MRF expansion makes room for new material lines | Waste Dive