A new trash rate proposal being discussed today could lead to higher garbage bills in the near future for San Franciscans, but also lower rates for those who reduce the waste sent to landfills.
As the structure stands now, residents pay only for the refuse can — the recycling and compost bins are free. That would change under the proposal being heard today at City Hall for the first of several public meetings.
“As we move toward zero waste, we’re going to have to change the way the pricing of the industry works,” Recology spokesman Adam Alberti said.
The majority of single-family residences have three 32-gallon bins: A black one for refuse, a blue one for recycling and a green one for compost. If the proposed changes are approved, residents will pay a $5 base cost, $2 each for the compost and recycling bins, and $25.51 for the 32-gallon black bin. The total bill would be $34.51.
Alberti said residents could move to a smaller, 20-gallon waste bin and save money.
“If you’re just able to reduce your waste all together, you could go down even further,” he said.
Alberti said the structural changes are necessary because customers are currently paying based on the amount of waste they produce while recycling and composting are free, creating long-term instability in the system.
He said rising labor and fuel costs over the past two years are also driving the rate increases.
“Costs have increased, but rates have not gone up,” he said.
But Quentin Kopp, a former city supervisor and a backer of Proposition A, a failed measure on the November ballot that would have opened The City’s waste-disposal services up to competitive bidding, said the rate increases are predictable because Recology holds a monopoly over the market.
“The ratepayers are in for it,” he said. “There’s no free enterprise.”
He said the purposed rate increases far exceed the costs associated with doing business.
“I would confer no credibility on their asserted costs,” he said.
Before rates can increase, the proposal needs approval. After five public hearings, Mohammed Nuru, director of the Department of Public Works, will issue a recommended order. If the order is appealed, The City’s Rate Board will hear the case and likely make the final decision at some point during the summer.