Businesses and Multi-Family Property Owners Still in Violation of Mandatory Recycling Ordinance Now Face Fines
Majority of Inspected Locations Show Compliance
OAKLAND, Calif. – 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
- Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Livermore, Piedmont, Unincorporated County: Recycling and organics collection is mandatory for all businesses and multi-family buildings with five or more units.
- Hayward: Recycling and organics collection is mandatory for businesses that generate four or more cubic yards of garbage per week and multi-family properties with five or more units. For businesses with less than four cubic yards of garbage per week, organics collection is mandatory and recycling requirements will be effective July 1, 2016.
- Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSan), Fremont, Newark, Oakland, San Leandro: Recycling is mandatory for all businesses and multi-family buildings with five or more units. Organics collection will become mandatory for CVSan on January 1, 2016, for Oakland and San Leandro on July 1, 2016 and for Fremont and Newark on July 1, 2017.
- Pleasanton, Union City: Recycling is mandatory for businesses that generate four or more cubic yards of garbage per week and multi-family properties with five or more units. These jurisdictions have opted out of the organics collection requirements as well as adding businesses with less than 4 cubic yards of weekly garbage to the list of covered accounts.
- Dublin, Unincorporated Areas of Oro Loma Sanitary District: These jurisdictions have opted out of the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance.
- Free on-site assistance: To request a free site visit or phone consultation to identify opportunities to reduce waste and comply with the law, complete the online form at www.RecyclingRulesAC.org/request-assistance.
- Free indoor food scraps bins for businesses: Up to $500 worth of equipment is available per approved business with a variety of containers and lids to choose from. Visit www.RecyclingRulesAC.org/containers.
- Free posters, stickers and other educational materials: To download or order materials visit www.RecyclingRulesAC.org and click on “Support Materials.”
- Contact: For more information, contact ACWMA via the website www.RecyclingRulesAC.org or call the Ordinance Help Line at (510) 891-6575.
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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