Last week, the Brentwood City Council agreed to take the first step in a multi-year process towards developing a high diversion organics operating facility—dubbed the “garbage juicer” by staff.
At the Nov. 8 meeting, the council voted 4-0 to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Anergia Services to investigate the facility to assist the city meet requirements to the organic waste disposal as required with SB 1383.
According to the staff report, if the technology is determined to be a “good solution” for Brentwood, this could be a fee for service arrangement with no capital outlay, or it could be a $40 million project financed by grants, loans, or bond funding.
The project feasibility analysis, which will take 6-12 months, will explore the various options.
From 2016-2020, the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) worked to develop regulations to achieve the goals of SB 1383. These new regulations were finalized by CalRecycle in November 2020.
According to CalRecycle:
The SB 1383 regulations require that jurisdictions conduct education and outreach on organics recycling to all residents, businesses (including those that generate edible food that can be donated) haulers, solid waste facilities, and local food banks and other food recovery organizations.
According to Casey Wichert, public works, he explained there are only two real ways to separate organics from garbage which is to either require all solid waste customers to separate organics from garbage and dispose of them in separate carts. Or, mechanically separate organics from garbage after collection.
Wichert says for years they had seen option one struggle and under option two the technology is now being more accepted.
“Staff likes option two because it allows us to maintain our existing level of customer service with little to no impact on residents and the regulatory compliance can be guaranteed,” explained Wichert. “The cost differences for these is difficult to ascertain because most cities contract for garbage services so they are limited to option one. Some of those have seen great cost increase of 15-to-30 percent. Because we perform our own garbage service, we can consider option one. We believe this will result in a smaller rate hike but will not know for sure until the feasibility study is done.”
Under staffs recommendation, should they go with option two to mechanically separate organics from garbage after collection, it would have the least impact on residents and businesses. It guarantees compliance and provides additional opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas and produces renewable energy by combining organics with the digestion of wastewater biosolids.
“Allowing us to enter into this MOU will allow us to determine if this project is feasible and economically palpable before we commit to the direction,” said Wichert.
He further highlighted how garbage is collected.
“Its then loaded into the machine and compressed under very high pressure. This pressure squeezes out the organic material, we call this garbage juice or the wet fraction. After the organics have been removed the wet fraction gets further processed, turned into renewable energy, and the dry portion gets sent off to the landfill minus the organics,” stated Wichert.
Councilmember Karen Rarey called this “genius” and was in support.
Councilmember Susannah Meyer asked about the timeline on the feasibility.
Wichert said they should be able to have an answer within a year while Shayne Petkiewicz (Anaergia Services) said it would be a 6-12 month feasibility study timeline. If they came to consensus, it would then result in presenting the findings to the council.
Meyer also asked staff to confirm if this was another “unfunded mandate” coming from the state. Staff confirmed “yes” but they do have grants they could pursue but not cover the full project costs.
Meyer asked if any other cities in the Bay Area are using this type of facility.
Petkiewicz said they do have facilities local with the closed being in San Mateo County which has been in use for several years.
Councilmember Jovita Mendoza asked if California was the only state doing this?
Wichert said California passed this and this is not federal stating they were the only ones required to do this.
“Again, everyone needs to watch what their state representatives are voting for. Watch all the bills and write in because again we are the only state doing this and its going to be really expensive which we then have to charge more for garbage or reduce services on the other side,” stated Mendoza. “While its great for the environment I am a little bit scared of how its going to impact the services as a city we provide or rates we may have to increase which is sad on both sides.”
Mayor Joel Bryant asked if the city could make this facility available to other cities to recoup some of the costs.
“Its certainly possible,” said Wichert who added the MOU would determine if its something they could open up to others if it makes sense, or just a facility to serve Brentwood on its own.
No public comments were received.
“I think it’s a great idea and we should move forward with it,” stated Rarey who made the motion to adopt.
The council then voted 4-0 to approve moving forward with an MOU.
Like all other cities in California, Brentwood is required to find an alternative disposal method for the organic portion of waste found in garbage. A promising technological solution has been developed by Anaergia, which involves mechanically separating organics from mixed solid waste collections. Staff is requesting adoption of a resolution authorizing the City to enter into an MOU with Anaergia, which outlines and guides the process to determine if a project is technologically and economically feasible.
- 1, 2022 – Effective Date of Agreement November 1, 2022
- October 31, 2023 – Feasibility Period
- April 30, 2023 – Initial determination of feasibility by Anaergia
- July 30, 2023 – Finalize discussions regarding scope and volume
- August 31, 2023 – Delivery of draft OWPA
- October 31, 2023 – Finalize and approve OWPA
- TBD – CEQA Process
- TBD – Permitting Process
- November 1, 2024 – Commencement of Construction
- TBD – Commencement of Operations
There is no fiscal impact associated with the adoption of this Resolution and execution of the MOU. This MOU is to determine if a project is feasible. If the MOU determines a project is feasible, staff will bring forward any proposed project and associated fiscal analysis to Council for their consideration at a later date.
Full Staff Report – click here
Solid Waste Organics Diversion: 542-54021
Location: Solid Waste Transfer Station, 2301 Elkins Way
This project is included in the City’s Strategic Plan for FYI 2022/23 – FY 203/24. In order to comply with regulatory requirements associated with the passage of AB 1826 and SB 1383, the city will be required to recycle organic wastes and divert them away from landfills. In particular, SB 1383 requires a 75% reduction in disposal of organic waste by 2025.
SB 1383 was passed as a means to reduce climate pollution caused by the decomposition of organic waste in landfills. Organic wastes includes yard waste, food waste, and wastewater biosolids, among other things. Currently, all the city’s organic waste is disposed of in local landfills. In order to comply with SB 1383 requirements, the City will have to find alternative means of disposal by 2025. Several options to meet this requirements will be explored, including composting, and extraction, digestion, and energy recovery. Some alternatives for compliance have added benefit to generating energy that can be harnessed and reused in various ways. The initial planning and design work is proposed to begin in FY 2022/23. Future funding for this project will come from Solid Waste Enterprise Fund and the City will actively pursue any grant funding for this project if it becomes available. The city will also be investigating loan or bond financing, to be repaid by the future Solid Waste Enterprise revenues. All projected costs or debt repayment obligations will be included in the next Solid Waste Rate Study.
Known Cost Increases Under SB 1383
At the time the law was passed by the State Legislator in 2016, the estimated cost per household was at $3 to $5 per month while the cost to businesses were estimated at $70 to $90 per month.
Brentwood Website on Senate Bill 1383 – Mandatory Organics Requirements
Currently, no changes to residential nor commercial services are planned for the near term. When there is a change, customers will be directly notified and more information will be posted on this City website. The City anticipates some changes later in 2022, most likely starting with commercial customers. However, commercial businesses are free to subscribe to organics collection services with a third-party hauler or to self-haul, donate their organics to food banks or non-profits. — more info
San Ramon Saw 30% Increase
In 2020, San Ramon saw a rate increase due to SB 1383, as well as expanded services from organic collection services, bin labels, staffing, outreach and enforcement. They also stated the change in China taking US recyclables.
Per the City of San Ramon:
- For single-family homes, the 2020 rate increase is 29%
- For multi-family dwellings, the 2020 rate increase is 42%
- For commercial businesses, the 2020 rate increase is 37%
Oakley to See 23% Garbage Rate Increase Due to SB 1383
In March, the City of Oakley saw a 23% garbage rate increase du to SB 1383. The rates will be increased over the next 5-years. Their staff report cited an unfunded State mandate from the bill aimed at reducing the statewide disposal of organics by 75% by 2025 — full story
Under SB 1383
Cal Cities and a coalition of local government associations are also asking the state to include $180 million in the 2022-23 State Budget to help cities and counties develop and implement SB 1383 (Lara, 2016) organic waste recycling programs.
SB 1383 aims to reduce landfill disposal of organic waste by 75% and to increase edible food waste recovery by 20%. Once in landfills, food waste generates methane, a greenhouse gas dramatically more potent than carbon dioxide.
The requested $180 million in funding would build on the $60 million in grant funding approved by the Legislature in 2021, the largest amount ever set aside for cities in a single fiscal year for SB 1383 implementation. This additional funding for the grant program would help local governments implement collection, education, outreach, edible food recovery, procurement activities, and capacity planning. — more info