News Nov 2015: Non-compliant Locations Now Facing Fines
Businesses and Multi-Family Property Owners Still in Violation of
Mandatory Recycling Ordinance Now Face Fines
Majority of Inspected Locations Show Compliance
OAKLAND, Calif. – November 17, 2015
The Alameda County Waste Management Authority (the Authority) has begun issuing fines to businesses and multi-family property owners still in violation of Alameda County’s Mandatory Recycling Ordinance. To date, over 100 citation notices have been served, and more are expected as routine inspections continue. Of the locations inspected this year, the majority was found to be in compliance with the Ordinance at the time of inspection, according to the Authority.
The law, which went into effect in 2012, requires businesses and multi-family property owners to establish adequate recycling collection service. Additionally, businesses are required to separate recyclable and/or organic materials into the correct containers. Although the county’s cities and unincorporated areas participate in the Ordinance to varying degrees and with different implementation schedules, most have at least basic recycling requirements in place.
The Alameda County Waste Management Authority has undertaken extensive outreach to businesses and property owners to assist them in coming into compliance with the law. The few businesses and properties that are still in violation of the Ordinance’s requirements have received multiple communications from the Authority, including an official notification and a notice to correct violation letter. Still not having taken corrective measures, these non-compliant locations are now facing fines.
“The Mandatory Recycling Ordinance has been in place for almost three years, and the primary goal of the Authority has been education,” said Brian Mathews, Enforcement Officer for the Authority. “We are only now issuing the first citations. The cities, haulers and Authority have given businesses and multi-family property owners ample time to comply or seek assistance, before issuing citations.”
All citations issued by the Authority are reviewed and approved by staff in the city or unincorporated county area where the business or multi-family building is located. Fine amounts can vary from $100 for a single violation to $400 depending on the number and type of violation(s). Continued non-compliance can result in additional penalties. There is a 30-day appeal period that allows fine recipients to contest the citation.
The Authority considers citations a last resort to achieve compliance. “We are here to serve as a resource for businesses and multi-family property owners that have questions about the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance or are in need of assistance,” said Gary Wolff, P.E., Ph.D., Executive Director of the Alameda County Waste Management Authority. “To support businesses and increase compliance, our agency has provided technical assistance to thousands of local enterprises to start or increase recycling and organics collection services.”
The purpose of the Ordinance is to reduce the amount of waste Alameda County sends to landfill and to help reach long-term waste reduction goals – specifically, to ensure that by 2020, waste sent to landfills contains less than 10% of materials that are easily recyclable or compostable. For businesses, the amount of this “good stuff” in the garbage varies by industry. In 2014, 25% to 59% of the items in businesses’ garbage containers could have been recycled or composted. Looking at multi-family properties, an average of 46% of their “garbage” is actually recyclable or compostable.
For more information about the Ordinance and available assistance, visit www.RecyclingRulesAC.org.
Backgrounder: Alameda County Mandatory Recycling Ordinance
About the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance
The Mandatory Recycling Ordinance 2012-01, passed by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (Authority), went into effect on July 1, 2012, to reduce the amount of readily recyclable and compostable materials sent to landfill. This local Ordinance builds on state recycling and organics collection laws, AB341 and AB1826, by specifying the types of materials that need to be recycled and composted and how the laws will be enforced in Alameda County. The scope of participation and implementation timing for the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance differs among the 17 jurisdictions in Alameda County. See below for details or visit www.RecyclingRulesAC.org/cities-overview.
Materials Covered by the Ordinance
“Recyclables” – cardboard, newspaper, white paper, mixed recyclable paper, recyclable glass food and beverage containers, metal (aluminum and steel) food and beverage containers, PET (#1) and HDPE (#2) plastic bottles.
“Organics” – discarded food and food-soiled paper.
Requirements by Jurisdiction
*Some exceptions apply for organics collection requirements.
About Alameda County Waste Management Authority
The Alameda County Waste Management Authority is a public agency formed in 1976 by a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement among the County of Alameda, each of the fourteen cities in the county, and two sanitary districts that provide refuse and recycling collection services. The Authority is responsible for reducing the waste stream in Alameda County.
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New ‘Citations’ page now online. Pay fines & view FAQs.
For more information on Administrative Citations and/or to pay your fine, please visit the new Citations page.
Free Indoor Green Bins for Businesses
Up to $500 value per approved business for indoor food scraps bins.
For a limited time, we are offering free indoor bins to qualifying Alameda County businesses and institutions, for the collection of food scraps, compostable paper and plant debris (“organics”). A variety of containers and lids are available–up to a value of $500 per approved business!
Click here to apply.
Mandatory Recycling Now Enforced in Alameda County; Businesses and Multi-Family Properties Making Strides in Reducing Waste
In July 2012, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (ACWMA) Mandatory Recycling Ordinance 2012-01 took effect in Alameda County, requiring businesses generating four or more cubic yards of garbage per week and multi-family properties with five or more units to provide adequate recycling collection service for the amount of recyclable material they produce. Since then, hundreds of businesses and property managers have increased recycling activities, thereby helping to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Alameda County and collectively saving more than $350,000 in reduced garbage bills.
The ordinance is now being actively enforced through on-site inspections of covered accounts, and accounts that fail to comply with requirements could face a penalty. Upon the first observation of a violation an Official Notification will be issued, a second violation will result in a warning letter and a third will result in a citation. At that point, a fine may be issued. Since enforcement began in January of 2013, more than 11,000 inspections have taken place resulting in over 1,400 Official Notifications for Ordinance violations. Violations observed have been for failure to provide recycling collection service, disposal of “Covered Materials” in the garbage (cardboard, newspaper, white paper, mixed recyclable paper, recyclable glass food and beverage containers, aluminum and metal food and beverage containers, PET (#1) and HDPE (#2) plastic bottles), insufficient recycling collection service and refuse found in recycling containers. The most common violation observed has been failure to provide recycling collection service.
Fortunately, it is easy to avoid violation through compliance, and free assistance is available to ensure that affected business and property managers know what recyclable materials are covered under the ordinance and what actions they need to take. Since the ordinance took effect, the ACWMA Mandatory Recycling Business Assistance team has helped over 350 businesses and property managers start or increase their recycling service, resulting in significant savings and an overall GHG emissions reduction of 38,785 mtCO2e, which is roughly equivalent to reducing emissions from more than 8,000 passenger vehicles or more than 4 million gallons of gasoline consumed.
Garbage and recycling service providers and city recycling staff throughout the County have also assisted hundreds of businesses and property managers to start or improve their recycling programs to be in compliance with the ordinance.
Many businesses in Alameda County are proving how easy it is to recycle and going above and beyond in their efforts to improve their systems.
Twenty-four McDonald’s restaurants in Alameda County, including three in Livermore and one in Oakland, have recently been recognized as leaders in waste reduction. McDonald’s Pacific Sierra Region took a restaurant-by-restaurant approach to ensure every property had the resources needed to comply with city-specific guidelines for implementing proper sorting practices. Employees at these model restaurants now collect recyclable and compostable materials from kitchens while customers sort materials for recycling and composting with the guidance of custom signage. The Business Assistance team provided bilingual staff trainings to help launch the new programs.
South Shore Center in Alameda, a 594,000 square-foot open-air shopping destination, enlisted the Business Assistance team to set up or increase recycling systems for its 62 tenants. Business tenants received customized implementation toolkits and were equipped with the proper bins, signage and training resources. The property also repurposed a garbage compactor to collect food scraps/organics, and was able to increase its overall recycling rate from 11 percent to 62 percent in the year following the ordinance taking effect.
C.U.R.A. Inc. in Fremont, a non-profit residential therapeutic community for the treatment of chemical dependency, only had a garbage program before working with the Business Assistance Team to implement a recycling program. The Team organized a recycling training for C.U.R.A.’s 50 residents and 15 employees and set up proper recycling containers with signage in offices and common spaces. With their new recycling program, C.U.R.A. now saves over $3,000 annually on disposal costs and recycles and composts 75 percent of their waste.
Phase 2 of the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance will go into effect July 1, 2014, expanding coverage to all businesses (including smaller ones with less than 4 cubic yards of weekly garbage service) and adding discarded food and compostable paper to the list of Covered Materials in jurisdictions that elect to participate. Covered accounts will have six months to comply before Phase 2 enforcement action begins on January 1, 2015.
The Mandatory Recycling Ordinance was adopted as a key strategy to help Alameda County Waste Management Authority reach its long-term waste reduction goals — specifically to ensure that less than 10 percent of the waste sent to landfills by 2020 is recyclable or compostable material.
For additional information about the Ordinance, including details about who is affected, how to comply, or to request free assistance, please review the RecyclingRulesAC.org or call (510) 891-6575.