The more things change, the more things stay the same. In the February 8 Free Lance, a front page article told how we were not close to meeting our 50% garbage reduction mandated by AB 939. You could have knocked me over with a feather -- NOT!
I wrote a letter to the Free Lance in March 1999 urging mandatory curb side recycling (including green waste). I went to City Council meetings to lobby for that. Thanks to other people like me, we at least got a recycling program implemented at almost the same time the limits on garbage were put in place.
Unfortunately, as I predicted, simply charging more to pick up more than 64 gallons of garbage doesn't seem to have helped much, nor have the voluntary recycling programs in place. So before the state starts fining us $10,000 per day, I again urge the Hollister City Council to make green waste and curbside recycling mandatory. This should allow the current (and, in my opinion, excessive) recycling charges to be reduced, too, as they will be spread out over the whole city.
Speaking of charges, I love how the Hollister Disposal people are handling this. Frank Slykas, Hollister Disposal's manager, says it's impossible to compare one city's programs against another (presumably in response to another recent letter doing just that). Unfortunately, he doesn't cite any reasons why such comparisons aren't valid, preferring to only say that such comparison hurt the process and stir up animosity.
Mr. Slykas even goes so far as to say that how the "cost is put on residents is not decided by [Hollister Disposal] but by the legal entities [they] work for." That's almost laughable. Is he seriously claiming that if Hollister Disposal offered to lower their rates, the City would refuse that?
But the worst spin doctor in the article was Ed Quinonez, Hollister Disposal's site manager. He actually said that there was "a public misconception that residents must pay extra for recycling." Wake up, Ed, we DO have to pay more for recycling!
The rate for basic garbage pickup before and after the 64-gallon limit was imposed was $17.04 per month. According to the article, bi-weekly green waste recycling costs $5.25 and weekly curbside recycling costs $5.00 per month. That sure looks like recycling is costing us extra, doesn't it?
In fact, my bi-monthly bill used to be $34.07, and after I subscribed to the curbside recycling program, my bill went up to $44.06. So I am definitely paying extra for recycling. I wonder what kind of math Mr. Quinonez was using....
The fact that it does cost extra and is voluntary is why people aren't using it. The numbers given in the article indicate that fewer than 20% of our households are participating in the recycling program, which seems to be a clear failure to me. Let's solve that problem and make it mandatory while reducing the cost of the recycling program. Everybody needs to work toward reducing our garbage output, so it only makes sense that we all have to pay for programs to do so.
UPDATE: Hollister is considering making recycling mandatory.