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Newport Beach

Volume 7, Issue 5  |  January 18, 2022


Council approves new trash and recycling contract, modified to meet state law mandate regarding organic waste 

By SARA HALL

City Council this week unanimously approved a new, eight-year agreement with the city’s trash and recycling contractor, CR&R. 

The city’s residential waste collection program is being modified to meet recent changes in state law. Among other requirements, the new law mandates that all jurisdictions provide organic waste collection services. 

To meet this directive, the city is implementing a “three-cart, source-separated, collection program for solid waste, mixed recyclables and organic waste recycling, which includes food waste and landscaping waste items,” City Manager Grace Leung explained in her “Insider’s Guide.”

Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday (Jan. 11) for the new contract. 

This is a council working group he’s looking forward to retiring, Councilmember Will O’Neill joked. They’ve been working on it for quite some time, he said, studying both the commercial and residential requirements.

“It’s nice to be here, finally,” O’Neill said, thanking staff and the CR&R team. “This has been a long haul.” 

There is still a lot of work to be done going forward, he added, but it’s been particularly challenging figuring out how to apply the new state law into a city as diverse as Newport Beach.

The new residential solid waste collection and recycling contract with CR&R consolidates two existing contracts into one (previously the Newport Coast area was serviced under a separate CR&R contract). Both of the city’s residential solid waste hauling contracts with CR&R have been in place for many years and would terminate on the date the new contract goes into effect on Saturday (Jan. 15), Public Works Deputy Director Micah Martin explained in his presentation.

The initial increase to the city’s waste collection and recycling costs will be about $2.9 million per year, partially offset by $1.3 million in additional recycling fees approved in March.

At the March 23 meeting, City Council voted 5-1 for the rate increase, with Mayor Kevin Muldoon dissenting and Councilmember Marshall “Duffy” Duffield absent.

For most Newport Beach households, the fees would increase from $3 a month to $6.28 a month. Households in the Newport Coast area, which do not currently pay a recycling fee, would pay $5.86 per month. 

The net increase to the city’s general fund will be about $1.5 million a year. 

“As part of the proposed contract, CR&R will update its collection routes to provide greater efficiency, cost savings and safety, as well as reducing truck traffic and emissions,” Leung explained. 

As a result, about 14,000 residences will have their collection days changed, beginning in February. This is meant to optimize routes, reduce truck traffic, reduce emissions, and provide timely collection routes that do not extend into the evening hours, Martin explained. 

Residents affected by the changes will be notified by the city and CR&R in advance informing them what day is their neighborhood’s trash day. On the specified trash day, all three bins will come out to the street at the same time, Martin confirmed. 

Council approves new trash truck

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Sara Hall

A CR&R truck picks up trash bins in a Newport Beach neighborhood in early 2021

CR&R will deliver a green-lidded organics recycling cart to every household in the city beginning January 31. This container, which will be collected weekly by CR&R, will accept co-collected landscaping and food waste.

The company will replace all existing recycling and trash carts with newer carts by attrition to align color-coding with state-mandated color-coding requirements (new trash carts are granite with black lids, and new mixed recycling carts are granite with light-blue lids and decals, and new organics carts are granite with green lids and decals).

Residents can choose from three different size carts for each colored type of container, Martin said. Choices are between 32, 64, or 96 gallons.

Each household is allowed up to: 96 gallons of trash (black cart); 192 gallons of recyclable waste (blue cart); and 96 gallons of green organic waste (green cart).

The city charges a household monthly recycle fee of up to $6.28 to partially recover current costs incurred by the city in satisfying the state-mandated recycling requirements, but there are no extra costs, Martin explained. 

Households may have more of any of the carts, but there will be a small extra charge of up to $6.09 per month, he added. 

“If you have an extra cart, that’s when you’re being charged more, otherwise you’re not being charged more,” Muldoon summarized, or if more than five bulky item pick-ups are requested.

Answering a council question about households that have several more carts (possibly a dozen or so, as shown in an example photo), Martin said the goal is not to just arbitrarily charge a resident for all the extra carts they need. 

“We want to work with them [the resident] through our sustainability team to talk about what’s being done at their home to generate that amount of trash,” Martin said. “Is there more they could be doing to better source separate, better containerize their material so they don’t need so many carts? That’s an effort that’s going to be made on a case-by-case basis for everyone.”

Up to five, free bulky item pick-ups (with up to five items each) per household per year will be provided by CR&R at no charge to residents. 

Standard and premium valet service (CR&R operator moves carts in and out) is still going to be available in this contract for a small fee or for disabled residents at no charge, Martin noted. 

Council approves new trash bins

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Sara Hall

Trash bins on a curb in a Newport Beach neighborhood in early 2021

CR&R will conduct door-to-door distribution of two-gallon kitchen pails to all households following distribution of the organics carts. Kitchen pails will include an organics recycling “welcome” toolkit describing to residents how to participate in the program.

Rather than putting food scraps down the disposal, Martin recommended using the kitchen pail to collect food waste that will go into the green organics cart. Food can be placed in a bag if it’s organic and compostable (a paper bag or the green-colored compostable bags found online or in various grocery stores), he added.

“You want to start collecting the material where it’s being generated,” Martin said. 

It will take some time to get in the habit of the new process, some councilmembers agreed. 

“It’s getting used to not putting everything down the garbage disposal that’s going to be hard for us,” said Councilmember Joy Brenner. 

That’s to be expected as people start to understand the new program, Martin agreed. Staff hopes everything will be in place as it needs to be by April. 

Next steps will cover implementation of the program and more public outreach, including a new website. 

“This is a big milestone,” Martin said. “But after this, the rubber meets the road. The next six months are going to be really dynamic.”

CR&R will also produce a training video and social media content to help inform residents of the new programs.

They will also provide a dedicated customer service line for Newport Beach residents and have committed to a maximum 90-second average customer hold time or face liquidated damages.

There will be two, full-time recycling coordinators employed by CR&R for 18 months to provide residential outreach and education on the new collection cart system, dos and don’ts of the recycling programs and reduction of materials contamination per state law requirements, as well as to ensure full residential participation. There will be a one full-time recycling coordinator employed by CR&R for the remainder of the contract term after the initial 18-month transition process.

As part of the new contract, CR&R will maintain an average fleet age of seven years with no vehicles older than 10 years, Martin said. The city will receive eight, brand new collection vehicles in 2022, including four split-body rear-load vehicles that will be able to service recycling and organics waste carts in a single-pass to reduce disruptions to space-constrained neighborhoods on Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula. CR&R will phase in 11 more new vehicles by 2024, effectively replacing its entire existing fleet with new vehicles.

All vehicles will be equipped with collision avoidance technology to alert the drivers of adjacent pedestrians and cyclists. CR&R will continue to observe exclusion zones around schools in the morning and afternoon during which they will not operate their vehicles near these locations.

The new contract also stipulates that the annual rate and fee adjustments will be limited to annual CPI inflation adjustments that will be capped at a 5% maximum each year.

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Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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