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Davis

Davis, California

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

City Council votes to begin progress on organics containerization

Ordinance would help achieve waste reduction goals

City Council voted unanimously on April 6 to begin the process of putting an ordinance in place that would require the containerization of yard waste and biodegradable products. This would allow those items to be picked up on a similar schedule to that of trash and recycling and would divert those items from landfill. This ordinance would also reduce the pick up of street piles of yard waste from weekly to monthly.

At the City Council meeting, Jennifer Gilbert gave an introductory presentation outlining the details of the program. According to Gilbert, the current program that the staff designed would require no extra cost to the city.

“The main reason we have this organics program before council today is really to achieve the city’s waste reduction goals,” said Jennifer Gilbert, conservation coordinator for the City of Davis.

The city has a goal for reducing its waste by 75 percent by the year 2020.

Additionally, an ordinance from the state, Assembly Bill 1826, requires that cities and counties in California provide organic waste pickup for single-family homes and commercial properties.

The organics carts would be issued to residents and would be scheduled for pick up once a week. The default cart would be 95 gallons, however 65- and 35-gallon carts would be available upon request. Extra carts would also be available for residents for a small fee which has yet to be determined.

The carts would be for both yard and food scraps including bones, egg shells, rice, beans, cheese, napkins, paper plates, pizza boxes and yard clippings.

This containerization would mean that the piles of yard waste in front of homes would only be allowed five days before monthly pick-ups by what most residents present at the April 6 meeting referred to as “the claw.” The exception to monthly pick-up would be from mid-October to mid-December, in which street piles will be picked up weekly due to heavy leaf fall.

Otto Robby, a Davis resident of 40 years, expressed concern about the reduction in yard waste pile pick-up.

“If we drop back to one collection every four weeks, then there is going to be 8,000 or 9,000 tons that will be collected in that one week. I don’t know where that’s going to be stored.”

Carl Hiller, a resident of College Park, expressed a similar concern. Hiller said that because of the unique and mature plant life Davis supports, the monthly yard pile pick-up would not suffice for the needs of maintaining his yard.

“This ordinance appears to be trying to fix a system that isn’t broken,” Hiller said.

Many proponents of this ordinance support it because of the increased bike safety. Michelle Millet, among other cyclists that expressed similar sentiments, said that she has hit her fair share of yard waste piles and will be happy to have them in the streets less frequently.

“After approval of this organics containerization program, Davis will join 48 other cities in California that have similar programs that allow for curbside pickup of all compostable materials, including yard, food and other organic waste, giving Davis residents another convenient way to divert a significant percentage of their waste from landfill,” Millet said.

The program is still undergoing adjustments according to Gilbert, particularly the opt-out option, as well as the enforcement of using the carts in lieu of the yard waste piles.

Graphic by Jennifer Wu.

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