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This guide was produced by Marin Sanitary Service, Marin Hazardous and Solid Waste Joint Powers Authority, Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, WM EarthCare, Mill Valley Refuse Service, Recology Sonoma Marin, and Bay Cities Refuse.

The special section was published May 9, 2018 in the Pacific Sun and the North Bay Bohemian and May 10, 2018 in the Marin IJ and Press Democrat.


For a printable version of the Recycle Right publication, please click here.

Check out Matthew Pera’s May 31, 2019 Marin IJ article titled “Plastic bans are a growing trend in Marin” to learn about the challenges recyclers are facing selling plastics and the steps some of our local cities are taking to reduce the amount of plastics we use.


Remember, a good rule of thumb for plastic recyclability is: recycle only plastic bottles, jugs or tubs.


If you’re not sure if a material can be recycled, our “Where Does it Go, Joe?” tool will help you find out.



Marin Sanitary Can Recycling

The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) knows a thing or two about recycling. They produce research, reporting, and education on policies and practices that empower communities to reduce waste (and related emissions) and increase recovery, reuse, and high-end/closed loop recycling of beverage containers, packaging and printed paper.


In their latest webinar titled, “Duty to Warn: New Impending Crises & Price Drops and How that Impacts Recycling Programs” they explained financial challenges facing the recycling community in 2019 and debunked the notion that plastic and aluminum recyclables are so valuable that they essentially pay for curbside recycling service.


The webinar also addressed such topics as:

  • Why has there been such a large drop in prices for aluminum cans. (UBCs)
  • Which materials have strong domestic markets, which have historically relied on exports, and how is that changing in 2019.
  • The state of California redemption centers now that more than 1,000 have closed in the last four years.
  • What all this change means for the average cost of recycling collection both for recycling centers and ratepayers.
  • The truth about post-National Sword opportunities

You can read more about the webinar and topics covered here.


Learn more about CRI by visiting their website at www.container-recycling.org.



MSS Rate Explained

The following information is from Patricia Garbarino, President of Marin Sanitary Service.




For the past two years, MSS has been working with jurisdictions we serve and their independent third party, R3 Consulting, to make improvements to the way rates are set. We are pleased to announce that this was accomplished this year. Two things came out of the review: the new rates for 2019, and a new procedure that will streamline and simplify the annual rate setting process for future years.

After conducting a thorough review and analysis of our rate application, R3 reported their findings at public hearing before the City and Town Councils and Boards in December 2018, January, February, March and April 2019. Rate increases varied for each jurisdiction depending on programs, services and government fees.

Most of this increase has been due to several unforeseen and uncontrollable events that have occurred over the past two years and have greatly affected the recycling world.

  1. Chinese National Sword

    You may have read in the papers or heard broadcasts about China’s decision to severely cut back or stop buying recyclables from the U.S (also known as the Chinese National Sword). China is the largest buyer of our recycled materials in California. The result was to significantly decrease the value of the products we recycle. Markets have been on the decline for the past three years, getting much worse in 2018 and economists are predicting that this is the new normal.

  2. Contamination

    In addition, we are also seeing more contamination (items that do not belong) in our recycling. Some of this is from “wishful” recycling (placing items in your recycling cart in hopes they are recyclable when they are really just garbage). Another factor is that people continue to consume more and more, and most packaging is really not recyclable. The result of all of this is increased processing costs with little to no revenue from the sale of the recyclables to help offset these costs.

  3. Operational Expenses

    In addition to the financial effects described above, further contributors to the rate increase include increasing labor costs, rising fuel prices, and increasing landfill disposal and organics processing costs. Around the Bay Area, other customers have experienced rate increases of 10% to 60% for the same reasons.

MSS strives to provide good jobs in the community so we can hire local people and they can afford to live here. Marin Sanitary Service remains committed to recycling excellence. Our early adoption of dual stream recycling gives MSS an advantage in adapting to these recycling challenges; however, there are likely more changes ahead. While the industry is changing, we do not want to discourage you from continuing the good practice of recycling. We will continue to investigate and implement new technologies and to educate our customers on proper recycling.


If you have questions or concerns, please contact Kimberly Scheibly, Director of Customer Relations, at 415-458-5514.




It is our goal to always provide excellent service and programs to our customers.  Below are answers to some common questions we receive.




RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS

Is it worth it to recycle?

Definitely! While recycling is no longer a net-revenue generator, it is still important in that it conserves natural resources and helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

So, what does my quarterly “Resource Hauling” bill pay for?

  • Weekly curbside collection of one (1) garbage cart (landfill), one (1) split cart for recycling and one (1) green cart for compostable materials.
  • Processing of recyclable materials at Marin Recycling and landfill disposal of garbage and organics processing fees at Redwood Landfill.
  • Twice annual scheduled clean-up collections of up to 14 bags total of yard waste, recycling and/or garbage. Please remember to use paper bags for extra yard waste and recycling to ensure it is easy for the driver to see it is not garbage.
  • Twice per year on-call collection of up to two (2) bulky items such as mattresses, appliances, and TVs.
  • In addition, customers can rent additional yard waste and split recycling carts for a monthly nominal fee.
  • Visit our residential, commercial or multifamily pages for up-to-date information on services and programs.

How can I save money?

  • The number one way to save is to produce less waste
  • Shop smart—buy in bulk and try and avoid packaging in general but non-recyclable packaging specifically.
  • Make sure to sort your recycling and compostables properly.Learn what can and cannot go in your carts.
  • If you are low-income and part of the PG&E CARE program, you can qualify for a discounted rate.

How can I tell if a material is recyclable or not?

Unfortunately, there is no manual for this but we are developing an online and mobile app tool called “Where Does it Go, Joe?” that will help you sort properly.




MULTIFAMILY CUSTOMERS

Is it worth it to recycle?

While recycling is no longer a net-revenue generator, it is still important in that it conserves natural resources and helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Do I have to recycle?

California State law requires businesses and organizations to recycle. Click here to learn more.

So, what does my monthly “Resource Hauling” bill pay for?

  • Collection of garbage (landfill) containers (carts or bins) 1-6 days per week.
  • Collection of recycling from 1-6 times per week including cardboard, all papers, and bottles & cans.
  • Up to four (4), 64-gallon carts for the collection of yard waste, food waste and accepted food soiled papers (Commercial Composting). Additional carts may be rented for a nominal monthly fee. Bin service may be available for a fee upon request.
  • Visit our multifamily pages for up-to-date information on services and programs.

How can I save money?

  1. The number one way to save is to produce less waste
  2. Subscribe to ALL recycling & organics services that meet the needs of your business.
  3. Train your staff and tenants how to sort all recycling and compostables properly. Learn what can and cannot go in your containers.
  4. Call and speak with one of our Commercial Recycling Coordinators to help you figure it out! (415) 456-2601.

How can I tell if a material is recyclable or not?

Unfortunately, there is no manual for this but we are developing an online and mobile app tool called “Where Does it Go, Joe?” that will help you sort properly.




COMMERCIAL BUSINESS CUSTOMERS

Is it worth it to recycle?

While recycling is no longer a net-revenue generator, it is still important in that it conserves natural resources and helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Do I have to recycle?

California State law requires businesses and organizations to recycle. Click here to learn more.

So, what does my monthly “Resource Hauling” bill pay for?

  • Collection of garbage (landfill) containers (carts or bins) 1-6 days per week.
  • Collection of recycling from 1-6 times per week including cardboard, all papers, and bottles & cans.
  • There are two programs for organics:
    • Food waste only (Food 2 Energy)
    • Yard waste, food waste and accepted food soiled papers (Commercial Composting).
    • Both of these programs
  • Visit our commercial pages for up-to-date information on services and programs.

How can I save money?

  • The number one way to save is to produce less waste
  • Subscribe to ALL recycling & organics services that meet the needs of your business.
  • Train your staff and tenants how to sort all recycling and compostables properly. Learn what can and cannot go in your containers.
  • Call and speak with one of our Commercial Recycling Coordinators to help you figure it out! (415) 456-2601.

How can I tell if a material is recyclable or not?

Unfortunately, there is no manual for this but we are developing an online and mobile app tool called “Where Does it Go, Joe?” that will help you sort properly.

Marin Sanitary Service is dedicated to the goal set by Marin County to reach Zero Waste by 2025. One of the most influential populations is the student and teacher community at schools. That’s why we offer School Programs for our community. We hope that by educating the youngest members of our society the effects will trickle upward and provide positive impacts throughout the rest of the County. Schools are a place where leadership, community, and responsibility are all valued and praised, why not include sustainability into this equation?

Here are just a few examples of successful programs at local schools.

Dixie Elementary School

Dixie School District worked hard in 2012 to develop a comprehensive waste plan that can be used by any district. Click here to download the the The Dixie District Waste Diversion Program.

Dixie Elementary School spent several years enhancing their recycling program with the help of Marin Sanitary Service. Download the case study to see their results of the Dixie District Waste Reduction Case Study 2011.

Laurel Dell Elementary School

Laurel Dell Elementary was the subject of an intensive pilot study to measure the effects of outreach and education on zero waste efforts at a school conducted by Marin Sanitary Service in partnership with Zero Waste Marin, Conservation Corps North Bay, and Strategic Energy Innovations. Laurel Dell received hands on training and assistance with every step of the program and finished the pilot with decreased garbage service levels by 25%, and increased recycling and composting services as well as an increased level of sorting participation school wide. The effects of this pilot study lead to more engagement from staff and students in regards to zero waste efforts and goals. Laurel Dell will serves as a model school for the rest of Marin County.

Below is a list of changes the school implemented that helped lead to their success:

  • Removed garbage cans from around lunch eating area
  • Created one large sorting station with signage (included landfill cart, container recycling cart, compost cart, and a small shelf for extra uneaten food)
  • Created a Green Team of 4th and 5th graders that rotate every week monitoring the lunch sorting station
  • Placed container recycling, compost, and paper recycling bins in each classroom (with labels that show what goes in each bin)
  • Got a new cart for the custodian that had 3 compartments for waste to allow him to properly empty the classroom bins, while also making his job easier and more efficient!
  • Had MSS and SEI education specialists conduct an in class lesson for each classroom on proper sorting
  • Decreased garbage service levels after implementing new changes…Saved resources and money!

What is recycling contamination?

It’s anything put in your curbside containers that does not belong there.  For example, if you are putting all of your recyclables in plastic bags, the plastic bag would be considered a contaminant because it is not accepted in the recycling program. Even recoverable materials, like plastics and  paper products, can act as contaminants if they are placed  in the wrong recycling container. MSS operates a dual-stream recycling program, meaning paper is collected separately from glass, plastic, and metal containers and it is important that these materials are kept separated.

When in doubt, ask an expert! If you aren’t sure if an item can be recycled, use our “Where Does It Go, Joe” tool to find out if your item is accepted in your recycling or organics cart.





WHY REDUCING CONTAMINATION MATTERS

As we mentioned previously, contaminants can have serious negative consequences for your recycling program. Here are just a few examples:

  • Your cart may not be emptied – If the driver who collects your cart notices a large amount of contamination, he/she may not be able to empty your cart. If this happens, a notice will be left on your cart letting you know why the cart was not collected. If your cart is frequently contaminated, the cart may have to be routed to a garbage truck route and a fee will be added.
  • Degrading material values – Contamination will degrade the quality of the recyclables, which in turn lessens their market value and may even render baled materials unmarketable.
  • Reducing recycling rates – Contamination can cause materials that would otherwise be recycled to be landfilled. For instance, bottles and cans can get lodged in film wrap or plastic bags and will end up landfilled instead of sorted.
  • Breaking recycling machinery – Not all recycling machinery is equipped to take all types of material. Some items, like plastic film/bags, can jam up sorting equipment if it is put in the recycling container.
  • Causing safety hazards for recycling workers – Some materials need to be collected a certain way due to safety concerns for recycling workers. For instance, medical or electronic waste can be a very dangerous contaminant if it is added to the recycling container. Check out the Marin Household Hazardous Waste Facility’s website to learn more about Household Hazardous Waste and how to properly dispose of those materials.



WHAT YOU CAN DO

The best way to avoid contamination in your recycling stream is to use our “Where Does It Go, Joe” tool to find out if your item is accepted in your recycling or organics cart. Aside from this, here are some additional things you can do to reduce the contamination of your recycling at your home or work space:

  • Label containers – Try to place labels on or near each recycling container or station explaining what can be recycled. Click here for printable sorting signs and posters. To take this a step further, you can make your own signs and include pictures of recyclable items, or include a list of non-acceptable materials for a specific recycling container (this can be especially helpful if you notice repeated contamination issues).
  • Rinse and wipe clean – While we do not need your recyclables to be perfectly clean, we ask that you removed as much food residue from the recyclables as possible to assure the material is recycled into its highest and best use.
  • Don’t just throw – Not all recyclables can be sorted into the same recycling container. Make sure to only put paper products in the blue side (or blue carts) and glass, plastic, and metal containers in the brown side (brown cart). If you’re not sure about an item ask an expert. Give MSS a call or send us an email to find out if your item is accepted in your recycling or organics cart. You can also check out our curbside recycling guidelines page here for more information.
  • Keep all waste,recycling, and organics containers together – You should never have an isolated recycling container. Doing so may lead people to believe any material can be placed in that container. Make sure to place your internal sorting containers together to ensure sorting can be done properly.

In 2014, Marin Sanitary Service conducted a waste characterization study to find out what was being collected in residential landfill carts. The study found that less than half of the material collected was classified as ”true garbage.” Approximately 38% of the material could have been placed in the compostables cart.

Please help us in diverting compostable material such as yard and food waste away from landfill and into compost where it belongs!

Marin Garbage Break Down

Use LED Holiday Lights

LED lights last up to 10 times longer and use 80% less energy than traditional incandescent lights. Also, never place any holiday lights in your recycling cart.

Re-Charge it!

Replace your alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones. Save money and help the environment by ditching disposable batteries.

Freeze Food Scraps for Broth

Save your veggie and meat scraps from big holiday meals in your freezer and then turn them into delicious broths for soups later in the year!

Wrap it to be Recycled

MSS cannot recycle wrapping paper. Get creative and use alternatives like comics, maps, or posters! Be even greener by using reusable holiday bags or boxes!

Make Gatherings Zero Waste

Use reusable tableware instead of disposables. If you don’t have enough place settings, borrow
some from a friend or check a local thrift shop.

Try a Potted Tree

Consider using a potted tree that can be replanted to decorate this year. If you’re using a natural-cut tree, make sure it isn’t flocked with fake snow so it can still be recovered.