News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 10/29/2012
Subject :

Small Pilot Program for Residential Compostables - Public Meetings to Discuss Options Under Consideration
Contact : Wendy Hediger, Zero Waste Coordinator, Public Works    650-496-5912
Palo Alto, CA – Approximately 44% of residential 'garbage' is organic material. Most of this material can be diverted from landfills and composted to create a useful, marketable soil amendment. Removing this compostable material, primarily food waste, from our garbage and creating compost from it can significantly help the community achieve its goals of Zero Waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The City is considering a small pilot program to evaluate a compostables collection program and is inviting the public to provide input on the program options.

While all of the details of the pilot program are not yet finalized, there are some set parameters. The pilot program will run in a small portion of the City (approximately 500 – 600 residences). The pilot area will be one day of one route and will be chosen by a set of criteria that the City is currently working with GreenWaste, the City's contracted waste collector and processor, to create. Tentatively scheduled to start in the spring of 2013, the pilot will run for one year. Through the pilot, the City and GreenWaste will be able evaluate the feasibility, benefits, challenges and costs of weekly residential compostables collection in conjunction with a change in garbage service. Finally, the pilot will help determine the degree to which the cost of weekly compostables collection can be offset by reducing the collection frequency of garbage.

There are two pilot options under consideration (both have weekly compostables collection so stuff that will rot or smell will be collected every week) – one with less frequent garbage collection and one with no garbage cart at all. These are very different options and were chosen based on City Council direction, research the City has conducted on what other communities are doing, and what GreenWaste is able to accommodate.

Every Other Week Garbage Collection Option - Weekly collection of all compostable waste (i.e., all organic waste that will rot or smell) and yard trimmings in the green carts and all recyclable wastes in the blue recycling carts. Less frequent collection of the remaining non-compostable garbage (e.g., aseptic containers, foil beverage pouches, granola bar wrappers, metallic paper, ceramics, hoses, rubber bands). Pilot participants would, in effect, be transferring their organics from the black (garbage) cart to the green (compost) cart. Portland, Oregon and large areas of Toronto, Canada, have implemented this type of program.

No Garbage Cart Option - Weekly collection of all compostable wastes (i.e., all organic waste that would rot or smell) and yard trimmings in the green carts and all recyclable wastes and non-compostable garbage in the blue carts. This option means the elimination of the black garbage cart altogether, redirecting the small amount of remaining non-compostable garbage into the blue cart that will be sorted out at a processing facility. This is a different paradigm than what is in place now.  Instead of residents sorting the recyclables and non-compostable garbage at home the two are combined at home and non-compostable garbage is separated from recyclables at a sorting facility.

A possible benefit of the pilot program is a reduction in the number of trucks passing through neighborhoods. Depending on which option is chosen, truck passes at households could be reduced from three to two trucks every other week or every week. This reduces the amount of congestion, traffic, noise and pollution. The pilot will evaluate whether this possible reduction is actually realized.

Public meetings will be held to explain the pilot in general, to discuss the two different pilot options and to gather the community's feedback. The public meetings will be held on:

Wednesday, November 7
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Cubberley Community Center, Room H1
4000 Middlefield Road

Saturday, November 10
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Lucie Stern Community Center, Community Room
1305 Middlefield Road 
For more information visit http://www.zerowastepaloalto.orgor call (650) 496-5910. For residents who can’t make either of these meetings, there will be an online survey to gather their feedback.