By Dr. Ginger Gabriel – Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
We knew it would be an important meeting when San Bernardino County and Burrtec both would be there. First came the letter: “This letter is to inform you… how it will impact your… starting July 1, 2023.”
The puzzle continued to the end of the letter. “The county will be holding informational workshops regarding California State Senate Bill 1383 and how it will impact your services.”
The meeting was held on May 25, 4-6 p.m. at the San Moritz Lodge in Crestline. The letter continued, “The Solid Waste Management Division looks forward to working with you in complying with SB 1383 and is here to assist in answering your questions. If you have questions contact us at (909-386-8701).”
Of course I called. All Burrtec customers should have gotten that letter. A lot of us went to the meeting. We realized that a decision has already been made. It was a done deal.
The way we deal with our trash has changed. Whatever your thoughts, Burrtec says they want to hear from you.
If you’ve lived on the mountain awhile, you may have seen this coming. Western world residents create a lot of trash.
Twenty years ago, a hiker in Tibet, wrote in his novel, “A typical family in rural Tibet would be able to contain a lifetime of trash in a small container. Everything else was recycled or turned into fertilizer.” That novel was written twenty years ago. Today, Westerners have invaded the Plateau and many places look like a trash dump.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery tells us we must divert “organic materials away from landfills and toward the production of value-added products such as compost, fertilizers and biofuels.” httpds://calrecycle.ca.gov/organics.
The purpose of the new regulation is to “improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Apparently, organic waste, when it decomposes, generates methane gases, which “contribute to global climate changes.”
This time our government is not targeting plastics, but methane gases. According to CalRecycle, organic waste such as food scraps, yard trimmings, paper and cardboard make up a significant portion of what Californians throw away in landfills. Also, according to CalRecycle, methane gases released by food and yard waste decompose in landfills and cause climate change.
The Senate set methane emissions reduction targets for California in a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. The targets must:
- Reduce organic waste disposal 75% by 2025
- Rescue at least 20% of currently disposed surplus food by 2025
Each county is responsible for these targets being reached in their jurisdiction. Again, organics like food scraps, yard trimmings, paper and cardboard make up half of what Californians dump in landfills.
“Reducing these…super pollutants like organic waste will have the fastest impact on the climate crisis” (calrecycle.ca.gov).
Our annual “clearing of the property” barrels and bags will no longer be picked up on our streets by the Burrtec trucks after July 1. Our yard trimmings will need to be taken to one of the six Clean Mountain Sites after July 1. Don’t forget to take your current trash bill with you for proof of service. You can take 15 bags a day there now and after July 1.
This policy change was originally made by the California State Senate in 2016 under then Governor Edmund Brown, Jr.
All California residents will be required to participate in a Waste Recycling Program. Everyone will be required to subscribe to service for not only trash and recyclables, but also for green waste. If you want an exemption, call 909-338-2417.
There will still be the black barrel for trash and the blue barrel for recyclables. Burrtec will not be distributing green barrels.
You still will be able to buy a can of hairspray, but know when you throw it away, it doesn’t go “away.” It goes somewhere. Only recyclable organic waste can be turned into usable compost.
“By operation of California SB (Senate Bill) 1383, trash, recycling and organics collection services are now mandatory in all unincorporated areas of the County, except those areas granted a low population waiver and/or a waiver if you live above 4,500 feet.” We on this mountain have been granted this waiver. In a phone call to Burrtec billing, I discovered that without this waiver we all could be paying around $50 a month more, year round, for a green barrel to haul our pine needles in once a year.
However with this waiver, we now will be responsible, after July 1, to self-haul our own organic waste to a Clean Mountain Site.
Burrtec has purchased a special truck to remove our yard trimmings from the mountain to a facility in Fontana which turns yard waste into compost.
I know how to put Household Hazardous Waste in a red trash barrel outside my back door. I take those items to the collection spot off Victoria Street in San Bernardino (2824 E W Street, near the old San Bernardino Airport). I do that two or three times a year.
I’ve talked to some residents who have subscribed to self-hauling their trash to a Clean Mountain Site for $50 every three months. They have been doing this for years. They will now have to separate their trash, their recyclables and their green waste to use the Clean Mountain sites.
We share this earth with eight billion people. This Senate bill was passed to help us do a better job with our trash. Now I have a black barrel and a blue barrel. I only have to remember to put them out one day a week. Whenever I have organic waste, I’ll figure out how to get those food scraps, yard trimmings, paper and cardboard to a Clean Mountain site. Thanks to Darren, Suzan, Michael, Clinton and many others for their help with understanding SB 1383.