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Why did my trash rate increase?

green waste

When the clock struck midnight on January 1, Assembly Bill 1594 went into effect, causing a spike to our trash rates. The increase comes after the state rolled out new regulations that limit organic waste going into landfills, reducing methane emissions that contribute to climate change.

The increases are reflected in your bills from Waste Management. For example, the single-family standard cart service rate went up by about 15 percent. Other rates vary.

So, why the increases?

In September 2014, then Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1594 mandating that as of January 1, 2020, the use of processed green material as alternative daily cover (ADC) at our local landfills will no longer constitute diversion through recycling and will instead be considered disposal. Green waste such as yard clippings was used as cover for local landfills and went toward a city’s state-mandated goal for recycling. Cities’ green waste was accepted by the county’s landfills for free, which helped keep down the cost of hauling away residents’ trash. Rates have been driven upward by California state rules that prohibit mixing of garbage and items earmarked for composting that will now have to be gathered and disposed of separately.  This additional processing unfortunately comes at an increased cost, which is why your waste bill has increased.

For more information, contact Waste Management’s Recycling Coordinator Ashley Brunier at abrunier@wm.com or 949-469-2127.


Submitted by Scott Leighton on Thu, 01/30/2020 - 3:26 pm


When was the last time the city put this contract out to bid? How does the city know the new rates are competitive, they sure don't seem to be published publically anywhere I can find?

Submitted by Carole Kim on Thu, 01/30/2020 - 6:12 pm


What measures have been taken to provide homeowners with green waste solutions, similar to your battery bucket? In my household, we make concerted efforts to separate kitchen waste but I doubt many even know about the change. As a Realtor I can help WM get the word out to the community. Reach out if you'd like to discuss. But more importantly, I have not seen a single communication from WM about this other than this newsletter which I am now responding to.

Submitted by Amy on Thu, 01/30/2020 - 7:54 pm


How does waste management plan to handle residential organics? Will they add a 4th curbside bin for organics, separate at the MRF, or will it be commingled with yard waste in the future? What facility will be processing our organics?

Submitted by Karen on Fri, 01/31/2020 - 6:19 am


I would like to understand how a 15% increase was determined. This seems excessive given the number of households in Mission Viejo.
In addition, Waste Management customers are also subject to an annual increase in July. Why doesn't the City consider bids from other trash companies, after all shouldn't you be looking out for your residents?

Submitted by Jason Hanson on Fri, 01/31/2020 - 10:37 am


Will Condo owners be impacted by this tax increase? As a condo owner, I have no individual greenspace other than a small paved patio with potted plants, I am in an HOA where we pay for a common area landscaper, I have never been given a green waste container since I have no green waste.

Submitted by City Staff on Fri, 01/31/2020 - 11:39 am


The City is providing responses to the questions posed above:

Because the State required the City to divert yard waste from being used as alternative daily cover at the landfill to a composting facility for recycling prior to the expiration of the contract, the City negotiated an interim rate with Waste Management. The City compared this interim rate to other cities’ rates via an informal survey, especially those with AB 1594 compliant programs (those also recycling yard waste). Even with the new increase, Mission Viejo’s residential single-family rate is still lower than 24 of the 34 cities in the County. Of the 9 cities with lower rates, four are still slated to increase their rates to recapture their costs for diverting yard waste. For example, Rancho Santa Margarita’s rate, while currently lower, will increase on April 1st to a rate higher than Mission Viejo’s.

Green waste consists of two components: yard waste and food waste. The green waste diversion discussed in the City’s article is regarding yard waste, which is now being sent to a compost facility in Irvine for recycling. It is this process that has caused an increase in your trash bill because green waste can no longer be used as alternative daily cover at the landfill. Food waste recycling, also called organics recycling, will be rolled out by January 1, 2022. The City and Waste Management will begin educating residents about that program next year, along with plans for separating out food waste. They will offer a kitchen-sized residential organics (food waste) pail for residents to use. Food waste will be commingled with yard waste in the “green cart.”

Residences without a green cart, because the HOA takes care of all gardening, had no rate increase. However, the same State law (AB 1594) requires landscapers to take their green waste to a green waste recycling facility. Therefore, HOAs are also likely sharing in the burden of the extra disposal costs passed onto them by their landscapers.

Regarding getting new bids for service, over the course of the last year and a half, the City undertook an extensive competitive bidding (RFP) process for a new solid waste services agreement as the prior contract was set to expire on December 31, 2020.

The City Council considered the staff and consultant recommendations at its December 10, 2019 Council Meeting. The report and results of the bidding process are on the City website and can be viewed via this link (scroll down to agenda item 17): https://dms.cityofmissionviejo.org/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeet….

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Fri, 01/31/2020 - 11:59 am


For those who are unaware, Council Members Ed Sachs and Trish Kelley recommended and on 12/10/2019, the full Council accepted that recommendation to add street sweeping to the trash contract:

“Motion made by Council Member Bucknum, seconded by Council Member Kelley, to direct staff and the Integrated Solid Waste Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a final agreement with Waste Management that includes street sweeping services and an adjustment of solid waste collector fees to the County average and return to Council for award of contract in January 2020.”

I expect the contract to come back for approval at the 02/11/2020 council meeting.

Street sweeping is an over $400,000 maintenance contract, previously paid out of the City’s General Fund.

The Council has not answered the following questions:

“Dear Mayor and Council Members - as most of my questions remain unanswered, I could not find the facts in the links supplied - which was the back-up material for the Item #17 of the December 14, 2019 council meeting.

I know my questions have always been a burden, but I hope you know the answers.

What the public deserves to know is this: Who is being billed for the maintenance contract for Street Sweeping? Will the invoices continue to go to the City to be paid out of the General Fund or has the council shifted that financial burden onto the trash bills of the property owners?

Sincerely, cathy”

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Tue, 02/04/2020 - 10:04 am


I re-posted the above "for those who are unaware" comments onto the Mission Viejo Connection and the administrator turned off commenting on that post shortly after the City left this response: “Comment from City staff: Currently, the city pays for street sweeping. Inclusion of street sweeping in a solid waste contract to become effective January 1, 2021, is being contemplated but a final contract has yet to be awarded.”

My re-posted comments on the Mission Viejo Connection generated over 20 responses.

Have comments for this City thread also been closed ?

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