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California enacts law to curb pollution

Air pollution
Posted at 10:30 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 12:02:35-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — California is trying new ways to help curb pollution across the state, and it all starts with what you throw out in the trash. At the first of the year, those changes will be taking place.

“A lot more people throughout the county are going to see their collection go from a single can or maybe just a can and a blue can to a can, a blue can and a green can,” said Chuck Magee the Public Works Manager with Kern County Public Works.

That’s because of senate bill 1383 starting in 2022. Changes are coming with waste collection and processing. The law aims to reduce the amount of organic waste going into the disposal site by 50% as of January 1st and 75% by 2025.

“That’s a lot of material that’s got to come out. That organic stream right now, in Kern County, we recycle a lot of it to start with,” said Magee.

Magee said the latest waste characterization study show about 400,000 tons a year still go into landfills. So, that’s 200,000 tons that need to be reduced. About 40% of the waste going into landfills both at the state and county levels is organic material. So, to reduce the amount of methane coming out of landfills, this category is being targeted.

“The most effective and the most cost-effective was the creation of areas where the three-cart system is used,” said Magee.

The three-cart system means you separate your waste into recyclables like paper, cardboard, and aluminum organic waste like tree cuttings, grass, and food waste, and trash like medical or contaminated waste that would go into the landfill.

“So that those organics that are being generated come to the county separated so they can be processed and diverted from disposal,” said Magee.

But the process isn’t cheap.

“When you’re talking about having to take a couple hundred thousand tons and do something with it, we’ve got to expand our capabilities basically to process this,” said Magee.

Magee explains the county will need to build compost facilities along with equipment to process the waste. The money to fund the project will come from an increase in residents’ trash bills.

“It’s like a $6.75 a month increase,” said Magee.

It’s about an $80 increase per year for most residents but customers who contract services thru private companies could end up paying more.

Even though new rules go into effect in January the county is allowed to ask the state for an extension, provided they are working to have the infrastructure in place.

“We’re saying we should be fully compliant by January 1, 2024. That gives us basically 2021 and 2022 to implement everything,” said Magee.

Magee said that this is a gradual process and it’s all about helping people understand why this approach to a better environment is needed.

“We can handle it, it’s going to be an interesting 1-2 years but we’ve got the pieces in place to be able to do so,” said Magee.