Placer County officials green light green waste program for North Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Placer County officials green light green waste program for North Tahoe

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com
An example of the types of waste Placer County officials will be able to recycle through its pilot program.
Courtesy Placer County |

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — A new Placer County recycling program is aiming its sights at promoting improved waste management practices for businesses throughout its Tahoe and Truckee region.

Touted as a commercial organics recycling program, Placer County officials hope to help California progress toward recycling and greenhouse emission goals set forth within Assembly Bill 1826, a bill that would, beginning April 2016, require businesses that generate a specific amount of organic waste per week to arrange for recycling services for that waste in a specified manner.

The county, which already has a green waste recycling program in place, started looking at what to do with food waste about two years ago, said Kevin Bell, a county environmental engineering program manager.

The bill is designed to decrease the amount of organic waste (grass clippings, leaves, brush and trees as well as food waste) from about 8 cubic yards or more to 4 cubic yards or more by January 2017.

Following the completion of a pilot study conducted in collaboration between Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal and Placer County, the county will contract with SCS Engineers, which will use the data to develop the program.

The county now has until January 2016 to have a plan in place, ready for implementation by the April 2016 deadline.

While SCS Engineering has not yet finalized a plan, Bell said there are at least two separate options being discussed at this point, both of which have their benefits and drawbacks.

One option being vetted would require a system that takes the waste material and breaks it down to produce methane gas, which could then be captured and repurposed for a number of uses.

The other would aerate the waste stream and then mix it for composting uses.

Aside from defining the plan to use, the county will have to address where businesses will locate their waste disposal apparatus once implemented.

Restaurants, apartments and other businesses already stressed for parking space and other accommodations will be required to house a waste disposal system somewhere. Convincing these organizations to sacrifice that valuable space may be a challenge, Bell said.

“If we’re asking a restaurant to take away one of its parking places to put in a bin, that can be a challenge,” Bell said. “It’s not like that can’t be overcome though, but it’s a consideration we will have to make.”

Protecting wildlife, especially bears, Bell said, will be another challenge the group will have to address in order to have a viable plan in place by the 2016 deadline.

Funding for the plan is another consideration county officials will need to address as no revenue stream has necessarily been finalized. Bell did acknowledge, however, that it will likely fall to participants – property and business owners – to foot some of the expense.

“There is a hope with an implementation of the program, there will already be a reduction of this type of waste to hopefully offset some of the costs,” Bell said.

In the meantime, Bell believes Placer County has already made plans for diverting much of its waste stream and that the pilot study will back up that belief.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to come up with some good information based on the data produced in the study.”