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Environment and Energy

Paso Robles adopts new waste ordinance aimed at reducing organic waste in landfills

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Angel Russell

The Paso Robles City Council voted to approve a new ordinance that will change the way residents and businesses throw out their organic waste.

Come January 1, 2022, when Paso Robles residents and businesses roll out their three waste container bins, food waste from the trash bin must now go into the green waste container instead.

Matt Thompson, wastewater resources manager for Paso Robles, said this change is part of the state's new organic recycling mandate.

“These regulations are intended to address climate change by reducing the amount of organic solid waste that is disposed of in landfills,” Thompson said.

Thompson said when organic waste is put into a landfill, it breaks down and generates methane.

This change in container use will likely result in customers paying more for their trash pickup.

“We do not know what the increasing amount will be until we complete a proper rate study in the coming months," Thompson said. "But we are aware of factors driving the need for a rate increase.”

Those factors driving up cost include the need for additional collection services and a goal for the city to purchase an anaerobic digester, which is an eco-friendly way of creating renewable natural gas from organic waste.

“On the bright side, we did recently learn that CalRecycle, the state agency responsible for enforcing these regulations is offering a one-time grant program," Thompson said. "So, we will pursue those grants.”

Paso resident Jen Album said she’s concerned about the enforcement of new changes, with the ordinance allowing the city to conduct inspections for compliance.

“A lot of the wording in there concerns me," Thompson said. "Then it talks about the fees and penalties that can be imposed on people who don’t put their trash in the right place”

Thompson said the first two years of the program will not be about enforcing, but rather on education and helping bring people up to compliance.

Once enforcement begins, Thompson said the enforcement will focus on egregious violations which could result in administrative fines between $50 to $250.

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