Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Every week, hundreds of thousands of Sonoma County residents dutifully gather grass clippings from their yards and food scraps from their kitchens, toss them into green bins and then cart them to the curb alongside their garbage and recycling.
Tons of this so-called “green waste” is then hauled, at a cost of $5 million per year, to other counties, where it is chopped up, often mixed with chicken guts, encouraged to rapidly decompose, and then sold as compost.
The process takes place entirely outside Sonoma County — mostly in Mendocino, Napa and Marin counties — ever since Sonoma Compost, the county’s longtime compost operation atop the Central Landfill, was shut down nearly three years ago for wastewater violations.
Now local officials face a complex but crucial decision about the future of composting in Sonoma County, one that will have major implications for the life of the county landfill, the rate of emission of greenhouse gases and the size of people’s garbage bills.
That decision is whether to encourage the construction of a new, modern composting facility here, with costs of $50 million or more, or whether to continue hauling the material to existing facilities elsewhere indefinitely.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8595931-181/complicated-choice-looms-in-sonoma
Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Under a little-recognized shift in rules at Sonoma County’s Waste Management Agency, households are now allowed to throw all food scraps into the green bin, including meat, bones and dairy products.
Rules were changed last July, when the agency started hauling yard waste and food scraps to compost facilities outside Sonoma County, but agency officials did not inform the public. Since the closure of Sonoma Compost Co. last October, the agency has been trucking all yard and food waste to compost facilities in Novato, Ukiah and Vacaville.
“We didn’t tell everyone right away because we wanted to make sure what we were taking to the other sites was acceptable to them,” said Patrick Carter, interim executive director for the agency. “We wanted to make sure there was enough capacity, and we didn’t want to cause rates to go up.”
Ratepayers have already seen higher bills this year. Rates have risen roughly $4 per month since October, Carter said.It costs about $4.5 million to truck organic waste out of county, up from $2 million when it was handled at the Central Landfill west of Cotati.
Waste accepted for compost includes produce, pasta and bread, eggshells, meat and bones, cheese, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, grass clippings and leaves and paper plates and napkins.
Read more at: Food scraps now OK in Sonoma County yard | The Press Democrat