Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

MAY 16, 2006 CONSIDER OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 1778, RESTRICTION ON THE RECYCLING OF GREEN WSTE MATERIALS AS ALTERNATIVE DAILY COVER AT LANDFILLS MAY 16, 2006 CONSIDER OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 1778, RESTRICTION ON THE RECYCLING OF GREEN WSTE MATERIALS AS ALTERNATIVE DAILY COVER AT LANDFILLS MAY 16, 2006 CONSIDER OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 1778, RESTRICTION ON THE RECYCLING OF GREEN WSTE MATERIALS AS ALTERNATIVE DAILY COVER AT LANDFILLS

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

DATE: MAY 16, 2006

SUBJECT: CONSIDER OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 1778, RESTRICTION ON THE RECYCLING OF GREEN WSTE MATERIALS AS ALTERNATIVE DAILY COVER AT LANDFILLS

Staff Coordinator: Lauren Ramezani, Sr. Administrative Analyst

RECOMMENDATION

Consider writing an opposition letter to Senate Bill (SB) 1778 (Alarcon), which would place restrictions on the recycling of green waste materials as alternative daily cover (ADC) at landfills by eliminating the diversion credit for cities currently allowed for green materials used as ADC.

BACKGROUND

Landfills are required by law to cover their daily landfilled loads. Historically dirt was used as daily cover in landfills. However, since the passage of AB 939, ADC has replaced dirt as the preferred cover in many landfills.

Green waste is approximately 10-15% of the total waste stream, which makes it an important target material for diversion by methods such as ADC, composting or mulch.

Most cities, as well as the County, provide source-separated green waste for ADC, and, as of 2004, approximately half of the local jurisdictions in Los Angeles County reached 10 percent (%) of their diversion through the recycling of green waste as ADC (and some relied on it for much more of their diversion).

Over 30% of RPV’s solid waste is green waste, and over 50% of that is uncontaminated and hence, recycled. For several years, the City relied on the use of ADC as a means to reach its 50% diversion mandate. Although, more recently Waste Management takes a large portion of the City’s green waste to a mulching facility, but the rest is still used as ADC. With the large quantities of green waste produced in RPV, the availability of ADC as diversion credit has been, is and will be a useful means for the City to continue meeting or exceeding its diversion goals.
ADC provides a reliable, consistent and cost-effective market for green waste, and no viable alternative processing capacity or end-use market exists.
DISCUSSION

Despite opposition by the Sanitation Districts, the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties, and a number of solid waste management companies and trade associations, SB 1778 was passed by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 24, 2006. SB 1778 now heads for the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will hear the bill on May 15, 2006. There will be other meetings in the Senate after that also. The County Sanitation Districts strongly urges all concerned cities send opposition letters and urge the members to vote “no” on SB 1778. (See attached sample letter)

Here are some important facts:

- Since 1989, all 89 jurisdictions in Los Angeles County have participated in ADC programs. About half of the green waste produced in the county is currently being used as ADC.

- From 1998-2004, among Los Angeles County and Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties, 9 million tons of green waste has been used as ADC, which is the equivalent of 2.4 million avoided truckloads of dirt. This amount of dirt saved would fill the Rose Bowl approximately 70 times. In 2004, an average of approximately 6,800 tons per day of green waste was used for ADC in these counties.

- One major advantage of an ADC program is that it creates a local, consistent diversion market for green waste. If green waste was not allowed to be used for ADC, there would not be enough alternative diversion capacity available to manage this waste stream. For instance, existing Los Angeles County composting facilities have an aggregate capacity of about 1,300 tons per day, yet 2,300 tons per day of green waste are currently used for ADC in Los Angeles County.

- An arbitrary mandated shift from ADC to composting facilities, as would be mandated by SB 1778, would have serious adverse impacts, such as:

- The higher operational cost of composting the green waste currently going to ADC at Sanitation Districts’ facilities would be approximately $5 million per year; and
- New facilities would have to be developed which will be difficult in the metropolitan area. As such, new facilities would likely have to be located further away than existing ADC sites thereby increasing transportation costs and increasing diesel emissions. The increased transportation costs for green waste currently used for ADC at Sanitation Districts’ facilities could be on the order of $5 million per year.

- SB 1778 would force local government agencies to abandon long established valid recycling programs and implement additional more costly diversion
programs or face up to $10,000 per day for non-compliance with AB 939 diversion goals.

- Additionally, currently there is not a strong market for the compost material. If all the generated green waste was taken to various composting facilities, there is not enough demand to buy the produced compost or mulch. The market development is lacking, therefore, the facilities would not be able to sell all their finished material.

FISCAL IMPACT

The use of green waste as ADC has substantial cost savings to cities, landfills, haulers and ultimately residents/customers:
1. The City benefits by meeting AB 939 diversion credit, and avoiding potential penalties for non-compliance.
2. The hauler benefits, since disposal cost for green waste (to be used as ADC) is substantially lower than disposal cost for trash. The County landfills charge $24.43/ton to dispose trash, while the cost to dispose green waste is only $12.10/ton. Haulers pay less in green waste disposal costs, so it motivates them to continue green waste recycling programs, helps offset their green waste recycling operational costs, and helps pass on the savings to customers by offering lower monthly rates.
3. The landfills benefit, by using green waste as ADC which reduces the landfills operations cost by not having to import and pay for dirt. Therefore, the uncontaminated green waste disposal rate is lower to encourage haulers to bring in green waste. It also helps conserve long-term landfill space.
4. The resident/customer benefits by paying a lower monthly trash bill because of lower disposal costs.

There are not enough mulching or composting facilities in the LA area to accommodate the volume of green waste that is generated by cities. Haulers could take green waste to more distant composting facilities, but that would increase transportation and disposal costs.

If SB 1778 passes, it will cost the haulers more money to dispose green waste for diversion, and that increase will be passed to customers. Additionally, if haulers are not willing or able to incur the extra disposal/transportation cost, then it will be harder for cities to meet their diversion goals.

Respectfully Submitted:

Ray Holland
Interim Director of Public Works

Reviewed by:

Les Evans
City Manager
SAMPLE LETTER OF OPPOSITION TO
SENATE BILL 1778 (ALARCON) (ASAMENDED MAY 1, 2006)

May 17, 2006

The Honorable Kevin Murray, Chair
Senate Committee on Appropriations
State Capitol Building, Room 2206
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Chairman Murray:

Senate Bill 1778 (Alarcon) (As Amended May 1, 2006) -- Oppose Position

On behalf of the City of the City of Ranch Palos Verdes, I am writing in opposition to SB 1778 by Senator Richard Alarcon. As amended on May 1, 2006, SB 1778 would place restrictions on the recycling of green waste materials as alternative daily cover (ADC) at landfills by eliminating the diversion credit currently allowed for green materials used as ADC. We strongly oppose SB 1778 because it would seriously undermine existing recycling programs and the substantial infrastructure investments made by many local jurisdictions in order to comply with AB 939 waste diversion requirements.

Green waste comprises 10-15% of the total municipal solid waste stream, and, since 1987, 9 million tons of green waste have been recycled as ADC in Los Angeles County. The green waste ADC program offers a reliable and cost-effective market for green waste, and has stimulated the development of separate green waste collection programs in most cities in Los Angeles County. If green waste were not allowed to be used for ADC, there would not be enough alternative diversion capacity available to manage this large waste stream, and it would be very costly to develop additional composting facilities (which are particularly difficult to site in urban areas, and quite likely would be located in distant out-of-county locations). Additionally, operational costs and transportation costs would rise dramatically. SB 1778 also would result in significant state costs for the California Integrated Waste Management Board to establish regulations as directed by the bill. Most importantly, SB 1778 would force local governments to abandon long-established, valid recycling programs and implement additional, more costly diversion programs or face up to $10,000 per day for non-compliance with AB 939 diversion goals.

For all of these reasons, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes respectfully urges you to vote “NO” when SB 1778 is heard by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Sincerely,

Steve Wolowicz
Mayor

cc: Members, Senate Committee on Appropriations
Senator Richard Alarcon
Senate Appropriations Committee Consultant