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Yuba County supervisors talk trash
Some quick numbers on trash and recycling in Yuba-Sutter, based on figures from 2011 published by the Regional Waste Management Authority:
• Total waste generated in authority's region: 128,422 tons, or 4.2 pounds per person per day.
• State baseline target amount: 6.6 pounds per person per day.
• Using state baselines, amount diverted from landfill: 70 percent.
• Yuba County franchise fees annually: $400,000.
• Yuba County tipping fees annually: Between $850,000 and $1.3 million.
The future of trash disposal in Yuba-Sutter isn't the sexiest topic, but Yuba County supervisors heard Tuesday why it's important.
In an hour-long workshop, the board received a presentation encouraging thought on such topics as who picks up trash, what becomes of it and if it's possible to eliminate it entirely.
"There's an emerging idea called 'zero waste,' where we don't need landfills," said Joe Miller, vice president of SCS Engineers, an environmental firm working with the county on waste disposal issues. "I don't think that's ever going to be possible, and we can all see that."
But what is possible is making smarter use of landfills to reduce their footprint and use them to generate fuel and electricity, he said. Such uses are happening at the Ostrom Road landfill north of Wheatland, the repository for the region's trash.
Before trash is made into a better use, though, there is a question of who should handle it. As part of a study of waste management resources, Yuba County and other members of the Regional Waste Management Authority may consider whether disposal should be handled by public entities like the city or private ones, like Recology Yuba-Sutter.
Miller said the costs involved in having a transfer station, for example, might make the answer more obvious.
Supervisor John Nicoletti said other circumstances might make the answer obvious as well.
"In the private sector, innovation comes," he said, while public agencies like the county are headed for higher employee costs in the future and less ability to come up with and try out new ideas.
Studying the issues of waste disposal is meant to provide a road map beyond 2019, when the franchise agreement with Recology expires.
Dave Kuhnen, general manager and chief executive officer of Yuba City company Recycling Industries Inc., said he is prepared to open a transfer station in Yuba City, alongside the Recology site outside Marysville.
In doing so, he said, he could improve on Recology's recycling rate, which he said is worse than the company claims.
"You can do way, way better," he said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.