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Turning our old garbage system upside down and inside out

Original post made by peter carpenter on Jan 6, 2011

Neither the local jurisdictions or Recology have done a very good job of retraining us on managing our waste stream INSIDE the house. The challenge is educating us about how to segregate garbage from recycle because most of what we generate is recyclable under the new system.

The new three container (black-garbage, blue - recycle and green-compost) waste collection system is both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is to dramatically decrease the amount of our 'stuff' that goe to the landfill and to correspondingly increase the amount that we recycle and compost. The new sorting rules permit much more of what use to be garbage to go into both the recycle bin and the compost bin. The challenge is to change that way that we collect and manage our waste streams inside our homes. Most homes are configured to put a lot of stuff in the trash compactor which then goes into the black garbage bin. With the old system we had a compost pail on the sink, a trash compactor for garbage and bins for newspapers and other recyclables. Now that more of what use to be garbage is going into the recycle and compost b bins we have reconfigured our inside the house waste stream collection. We still use the compost pail and we have added another larger pail (technically the same design as the compost pail) as a garbage pail and now all of the recyclables go into the trash compactor. We still have to deal with the cardboard packaging material by taking it directly to the blue bin but all of the compressible recycling first goes into the trash compactor.

I have been able to REDUCE my cost from last year by 30% and I will increase the amount of material that I put into the recycle and compost streams - a true Win-Win. We actually put more stuff into our sink garbage disposal now than we put into the black garbage bin.

Old system - 1 96 gallon garbage and 3 compost bins (1 1/2 /week) at a monthly cost of $73.30

New system - I have determined that I will only need 32 gallons for garbage and I will add 1 more 64 gallon recycle and 1 more compost bin for a total of 1 - 32 gallon garbage, 2 - 64 gallon recycle and 3 compost bins for a total of $49.55/month.

Result - more recycling, more compost, weekly pickups and a LOWER total cost.

The key for me was to change the garbage compactor into a recycle compactor and add a garbage pail next to the compost pail on the sink.

Comments (19)

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 6, 2011 at 10:29 am

"Most homes are configured to put a lot of stuff in the trash compactor "

Sorry, Petey, *MOST* homes do NOT have a compactor. Think outside the Lindenwood bubble.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

Correction: Most home are configured to put a lot of stuff into the garbage can or the trash compactor. With the new recycling system wwe need to change that configuration and pt most of that 'stuff' into compost and recycle pails and very little needs to go into the garbage pail.

And watch out for the anonymice - they go into the garbage pail.

Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

{Post removed. Please refrain from attacking other posters.]

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I am not an expert on cowardly anonymous posting - I leave that to those who are just wandering and who have no other apparent expertise.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 6, 2011 at 11:33 pm

"I leave that to those who are just wandering and who have no other apparent expertise."

Wow. Really? Posting anonymously equals "no other apparent expertise"?

Rather insulting, Peter. This has been explained to you many times, by Pogo and many others, please go back and review why folks prefer anonymous posting. We know it really gets under your skin by your comments.

Maybe that's why some continue to post anonymously.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 7, 2011 at 8:04 am

Just because anonymous postings, particularly those who do not offer factual information or provide a substantive opinion, are permitted does not mean that I should value or respect all of them. A few anonymous posters like POGO have distinguished themselves by clear thinking and consistency - it is therefore possible to develop respect for such posters and for their opinions.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2011 at 8:50 am

The old phrase "nobody likes changes" seems to apply to some; however, while re-aligning our patterns will take time, this is a good change.

At one point in time we had to adjust to the "old" recycle bins instead of throwing everything away.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 7, 2011 at 10:20 am

[This and responding posts removed; stick to the topic and be respectful toward other posters.]

Posted by Scholar, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm

They gave me a small plastic pail for food scraps (kept in the kitchen) that is supposed to be emptied into a huge bin (that can also hold yard trimmings) and the huge bin will be picked up and emptied by their truck.
The problem I am having is that the plastic pail is small (and messy with wet food scraps) so dumping that into the huge bin makes for a smelly mess in that bin with a very small volume of stuff. It also gets moldy fast. So I end up with a smelly moldy mess in the bottom of the huge bin.
When the truck comes and empties that huge bin (which hasn't happened yet), I think it will make even more of a mess inside it after it is emptied of it's tiny volume each week, because of course it won't get rinsed out.
Not sure how to do it without making the huge bin be a smelly wet mess inside. But I plan to try it anyway according to their instructions.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Scholar - I agree, the small plastic tub is useless. I have purchased a 1 1/2 gallon stainless steel "compost" pail that has a built in deodorizer to use for my garbage and have ordered a 32 gallon black bin to replace my current 96 gallon black bin. Given my first weeks experience I may even opt for the even smaller 20 gallon black bin.

I talked to one of the Recology drivers today - they are overwhelmed with the new routes. But I also received my extra green bin and my second blue bin today so things are happening.

Posted by john fox, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

re: use of the compost pail for food scraps, you can use compostable bags as liners inside the food scrap pail, and then put the bagged scraps into the big compost bin. Ace Hardware sells the biodegradeable bags sized for the kitchen pails- I think they were about $0.04 each.

this would be much less messy for you.

Posted by Mr. Freeze, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Hasn't anyone else thought of what we have been doing at our house for years now? FREEZE the food scraps in a plastic (or biodegrabible if you prefer) bag and toss, adding to it as needed daily, then toss it into the appropriate outdoor container on trash-removal day. No smell, no mess. The idea of a kitchen slop pail went out with hog-farming. They absolutely must be emptied daily. Those who don't pay attention to history . . .

Posted by Elizabeth M., a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I would have to say that Recology was a complete disaster today. First, we personally do all of our composting, recycling, etc. So, all of that aside, here's what I observed.

Allied Waste used to at least have the consideration to wait until 6:00 A.M. to start driving down the streets collecting garbage/recycling. This morning Recology came racing in the gates at 5:15 A.M, and very loudly began collecting the garden debris from the green bins. They were braking, yelling and much noisier than Allied Waste. Our green bins and those of 2 of our neighbors were correctly placed next to the street, 24 inches apart. The Recology trucks left about 1/4 of the garden debris dumped on the street and then left the bins almost in the middle of the street. We collected ours, but as I drove out to an early appointment, kids were weaving around the bins (all well into the street) as cars were also trying to get by. Later this afternoon, as I drove back again, bins were in the streets and there was now garbage in the streets. I spoke to a neighbor who said she watched the Recology truck pick up the garbage bin and drop it on the street where it fell and dumped garbage out. They just drove away and left the mess.

The results I saw today were sloppy at best. And yes, some homeowners didn't fully understand the process, probably placing garbage cans where the used to. Allied Waste used to pick up Christmas trees left on the street, but Recology didn't so now there are dying Christmas trees everywhere.

Residents have to take some ownership and responsibility, but to think that we are going to have Recology doing this every single Friday is extremely disturbing. To think that I will now get a wake up call just after 5 A.M. every Friday is just not right. And it would be nice if everyone could go out and bring their cans back onto their property right after they are emptied would be wonderful, but in reality, there are homeowners with jobs and leave before everything is picked up. And I also understand that this was the first day, but one would think that there would be supervisors or at least some attempt to do things with consideration and neatness. Leaving garden debris, garbage and the cans in the middle of the street is unacceptable.

Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 7, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I want to know why they increased Atherton's rates 40% and other cities 9-12%. Why are they charging Atherton more vs. other cities???? Doesn't seem right

Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I agree with Scholar and Mr Freeze - I have been freezing what little food waste I have for years, never a smelly can, and that is all the more important now that we throw food in with wet leaves. Since soiled paper also goes in the green can, I re-use small paper bags, but will purchase the $.04 liners on principle, great idea.

As for Recology, my small house has not benefitted. Mixing paper and recycled containers is sloppy and wastes space - no wonder a huge blue can needs weekly service now. I have returned to segregating paper so the bin adjacent to my kitchen is manageable, and if Recology wants them mixed it in the bin, what the hell. Meanwhile I have these shiny new huge awkward bins and I have yet to find space to park them - my back porch cupboards that fit all my previous containers are two small for even the 20 gallon black waste oddity, and the trip to the curb is more work, not less. But automation saved money, huh?

Posted by Dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 8, 2011 at 9:27 am

I have to admit being a bit shocked that someone thought the city should possibly be responsible for explaining to me how to manage the trash inside my own home. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the source. It certainly challenged my previous assumptions. I would really prefer to not have a city employee spend time and money to help me figure out how to manage trash inside my own house. I read through the info that Recology sent me and put my well educated brain to good use. As to the other Recology issues, I didn't have the same problem, but I sure hope they respond well to the complaints.

Posted by Elizabeth M., a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 8, 2011 at 9:47 am

As an addendum update: This morning, Saturday, 5:50 A.M., Recology truck came racing down our street and collected garbage from some neighbors' bins that were still out. Heard the truck stop farther down the street. When my husband went out to get our newspaper he said that the garbage bin was left about 2 feet into the street, with grass clipping all around. Someone on this thread said that Recology indicated that they were "overwhelmed." It's still no excuse for this type of very expensive "service!" And to think that this is going to be weekly. . . .

Posted by Robert Cronin, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I've been collecting kitchen scraps for backyard composting for years and never had the problems others have described. Maybe they are doing something wrong.

Posted by John, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Second Robert Cronin. Compost kitchen scraps in back yard and then ferilize your garden.

Question about compacting recyclables. Won't compacting make sorting on the back end more difficult and time consuming?

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