.Oakland’s New Recycling Program Offers Expanded Composting, Bulky Pickup Services

After a long and contentious fight over Oakland’s lucrative garbage contracts, the city is rolling out new services on July 1 — and for some residents, the program will bring new opportunities to recycle and compost. Under the new contract, Waste Management, the Texas-based corporation that sued the city last year after it initially lost the contracts, will be the exclusive provider of trash and composting services for Oakland residents and businesses while California Waste Solutions, an Oakland-based company, will be the sole provider of recycling services for all residents. Civicorps, a local nonprofit that provide youth job training programs, will also help provide composting services for businesses as part of the contract agreement. (Commercial recycling remains outside of the city’s franchise). 

The most notable change under the new system is that composting services will now be available in all residences — including apartment buildings and condos over five units. Previously, only single-family homes automatically received “green bins” from Waste Management for food scraps and yard trimmings while owners of buildings with five or more units had to request and pay extra for composting. As a result, many Oakland renters have had no accessible way to compost, which means significant amounts of the East Bay’s food scraps and green waste have gone to the landfill. 

[jump] Also of note, the new waste contracts will expand bulky pickup services to condo and apartment buildings. As I noted in a 2013 cover story on Oakland’s illegal dumping epidemic, one factor contributing to the large trash piles in parts of the city is that many apartment building tenants have not had easy, affordable ways to dispose of large items, especially furniture and mattresses. Under the new program, single-family homes and apartment buildings can schedule bulky pickups once a year. The city also announced today that the new services will provide four free “bulky drop-off events” for residents each year — on the first Saturday of every February, May, August, and November.  

Under the new contract, collection trucks will be powered by natural gas — a change that the city said would improve air quality and reduce noise. Waste Management is also slated to build and operate Alameda County’s first large-scale compost facility which cities throughout the East Bay will use for composting. 

Rates are also going up. A 32-gallon cart at a single-family home will now cost $36.82 per month — a 24 percent increase from past rates. A twenty-unit apartment building will now pay $616.90 for services, which is a 30 percent increase. And businesses with a one-cubic yard trash bin will now pay $194.10 per month — a 39 percent increase. Over the past several years, the city has twice extended the old contracts and preserved lower rates. 

For more details on the new services, visit OaklandRecycles.com.


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