|Bold city goals highlight changing understanding of ‘trash’|
|Written by Eliza Ridgeway - Town Crier Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 21 January 2009|
As Los Altos develops a new plan for citywide garbage service, larger changes are afoot than the possibility of a new name on the side of the truck. Compost pickups, more frequent recycling pickups and an array of garbage-can options are on the wish list in the city’s request for proposals from potential service providers.
The city’s contract with Los Altos Garbage Company expires September 2010. The environmental commission and GreenTown Los Altos, an environmental group, prepared ambitious goals for a new contract this winter. Staff are drafting a request for proposals to distribute later this year following public workshops and further council input. Some of the notable changes that might make the cut include flexible rates for varying levels of individual service, expanded recycling options and attention to diverting hazardous waste into appropriate disposal sites.
One of the more significant goals is to increase the diversion of solid waste away from the landfill and into recycling. Residents currently recycle 54 percent of their waste, just over the 50 percent state law requires. The environmental commission proposed that Los Altos devise a garbage plan to achieve 75 percent diversion by 2013 and 100 percent diversion by 2020. To achieve total diversion, residents would have to sort their waste scrupulously, and manufacturers and recyclers would have to devise a recycling process for every consumer product. Palo Alto recently voted to include a 100 percent diversion goal.
Food waste currently comprises 45 percent of Los Altos’ garbage, thus the city could dramatically increase its diversion rate by implementing a citywide compost pickup, one feature already included in the request for proposal.
“These are actually natural resources, not garbage,” resident Linda Gass said of the waste currently sent to landfill.
City Councilman Ron Packard said he hoped to see prices drop in at least some of the proposals – residents currently pay some of the highest garbage fees in the region, $28.11 per month, compared with $16.40 in Mountain View and $19.83 in Cupertino.
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