When Atascadero residents recently received their statement from Atascadero Waste Alternatives (AWA), they likely noticed that their two-month billing for recycling and green waste disposal rates had gone up. The rate change is due to an increase in the pass-through fee paid to North San Luis Obispo County Recycling (NSLOCR), who is our local provider for the State-mandated, legally required processing of recycling and green waste (the blue and green bins), and which was last changed back in 2014. The City Council approved the recent increase at their February 26, 2019 meeting, after considering many important elements which included the fact that over the course of the past five years, the recycling market has undergone a great deal of change.
Recycling legislation in California is governed by the State and every community is required to comply with current State law. Historically, export of recyclable materials has been a key element of California’s recycling program. However, recent changes to international policies restricting foreign imports of recyclable materials, together with the need to reduce contamination levels in recycling streams and a severely declining global market, have resulted in significant challenges for the solid waste and recycling industry, local governments, and all Californians.
In addition to severe declines to the market and the fact that certain items that used to be considered recyclable materials are no longer marketable, another very big factor for increased recycling rates is that a large percentage of the materials put into the blue recycling bins are not actually recyclable and are considered contamination. The increasingly high rate of contamination is primarily due to what’s known as “wishful recycling”, which are items that are put in the recycling container because the customer believes that the item is recyclable (i.e., plastic bags, various non-recyclable paper materials
As always, please feel free to contact me for additional information about this or any other topic related to the City, at [email protected]