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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Food recycling program coming to Claremont businesses

A local chef showcases the recycling process

Beginning next month, all Claremont businesses will be enrolled in the city’s widely recognized free Commercial Food Waste Recycling Program that will not only help recycle food scraps regularly thrown out, but also potentially bring down waste costs for some businesses.
Starting July 1, the city will begin granting businesses that produce a substantial amount of food and organic waste a 45- or 64-gallon brown trash container specifically for disposing of their excess food waste. Since state law designates brown bins to be filled with said waste, businesses will receive either a new fully-brown dumpster or lid to replace their yellow one.
Outlined in California Assembly Bill 1826—a business that produces greater than “two cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste” will be enrolled in the organic waste program.
According to Kristin Mikula, the city’s community services manager, the city’s program is and will be free to businesses, with no out of pocket expenses. The price to collect the waste is to be integrated into their commercial trash rates.
“What we did was a five percent increase to all commercial [trash] rates and through that we were able to offer the program to any interested businesses that wanted to participate. That’s been the model we had all of this time,” Ms. Mikula said. “Regardless of how much food waste a business produces, they can have unlimited food waste recycling at no additional cost as part of their base monthly trash rate.”
Based on current rates in Claremont and how customers are billed for collection, businesses such as restaurants and dining halls that utilize the city’s widespread food waste recycling program can actually save money in the long run.
“If you’re able to use the food waste recycling program and our recycling program as complementary services to reduce the amount of waste that’s going into the trash dumpster, you could potentially reduce the number of weekly pickups for your trash dumpster and reduce your cost,” Ms. Mikula said.
While only about 70 businesses have registered for the special recycling program over the last four years, Ms. Mikula said the city decided to make the program more accessible, available and convenient this time around by enrolling all Claremont businesses at once.
Discussing why it’s important for cities to integrate food waste programs, Ms. Mikula explained how the spirit of the regulations is aimed at reducing climate pollutants, specifically methane, that is emitted from landfills.
“Many other cities in fact set up a program that did the bare minimum with respect to meeting the requirements [of Assembly Bill 1826, which requires mandatory commercial organics recycling]. Yes, there was a program available on a subscription basis but… the costs were so expensive there was a disincentive for businesses to participate,” Ms. Mikula said. “We did not want to go that route because again we wanted the program to be convenient and meet the spirt of the regulations which was to develop a more sustainable program for handling food waste.”
Though businesses will not receive penalties immediately if they do not utilize their brown bins, Ms. Mikula said future state regulations—specifically Senate Bill 1383, passed, in 2016—will require all California businesses to begin recycling their organic waste by 2022.
Claremont is ready to distribute designated waste bins throughout the city, and on track to meet the January 2022 deadline of SB 1383 six months early. Burrtec Waste Industries, located in Fontana, is currently overseeing Claremont’s commercial food waste removal program.
For more information contact Kristin Mikula at 909-399-5433.

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

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