Changes in the global recycling market are being felt locally. In the City of Monterey, garbage rates could go up.
Whatever Monterey residents put in their recycling bin is trucked to the Monterey City Disposal Service. It’s located off Canyon Del Rey. Here, equipment sorts recyclables into various categories, like cans and cardboard.
Monterey City Disposal Service is a private company contracted by the City of Monterey. For years, it sold recyclables to China. That changed last year when China decided to stop buying most of them. Disposal Service General Manager Tom Parola says the company’s income has dropped close to 50 percent.
“It's put us in a financial hardship, basically. We relied on that money to fund the recycling operations. The cost of the operations has not gone down,” Parola says.
Parola also says the company is now paying more to dispose of the city’s trash, yard and food waste at the Monterey Regional Waste Management District in Marina.
So, the Disposal Service wants to raise its rates. For standard residential service, the increase would be just under $4 a month.
Monterey City Council has to approve the increase. The City’s Sustainability Coordinator, Ted Terrasas, says people need to start thinking beyond recycling.
“Reuse, reduce. Those are the really big ones. Recycling is very important. Obviously we still want to keep things out of landfill, but we don't want to depend on that as heavily as we have over the years,” says Terrasas.
Terrasas says there’s been some pushback, primarily from people who are on fixed incomes. But he says if the rate proposal goes through, it will be at or below average what’s charged in surrounding communities.
“It'll still be very well in line with the other cities in the area. And for commercial rates, it's still incredibly competitive,” he says.
Monterey residents have several chances to weigh in on the rate proposal. The first is Tuesday night (April 2) during the City Council meeting. It begins at 7pm. The second public hearing is scheduled for April 16. Residents can also mail written comments to the City Clerk’s Office.