Trash collector taking larger cut in San Mateo County 

Peninsula residents in 10 cities and parts of unincorporated San Mateo County should brace for higher garbage rates this year as a San Francisco firm becomes their first new trash collector in almost three decades.

Prices for some customers are projected to increase by nearly 40 percent after Recology took over service for 92,000 households and 10,000 businesses between Burlingame and East Palo Alto, which officials say is one of the largest garbage-service areas in the country.

The biggest change — and a major reason for the higher costs — is a new weekly schedule for recycling and compost, which had been picked up every other week under previous collector Allied Waste. Allied was passed over in favor of Recology for a 10-year contract serving the joint agency South Bayside Waste Management Authority, which was recently renamed RethinkWaste.

“There’s no more wondering if it’s their week or not, so that’s going to be much easier for everybody,” said Gina Simi, a spokeswoman for Recology, which delivered 440,000 new color-coded carts for garbage, recycling and compost to customers.

Besides more-frequent collection, residents can now put all types of recyclables in a single blue bin and toss food scraps into their green yard-clippings container.

But those upgrades — along with 127 new automated collection trucks, a $47 million rebuild of the authority’s San Carlos processing facility and paying outstanding debts to Allied — are expected to trigger significant rate hikes.

Recology’s service is projected to cost $86.9 million in 2011, compared to an estimated $80.4 million for Allied last year, which means RethinkWaste collectively needs to raise rates by about 15.6 percent.

Each agency approves its garbage rates independently, and the increases could be higher or lower depending on an agency’s reserves and rate history, RethinkWaste spokeswoman Monica Devincenzi said.

In San Mateo, officials are proposing to hike quarterly garbage bills by 23.3 percent, or $9.15, to $48.43 for a typical residential customer with a 32-gallon cart.

The biggest projected hike is in Atherton at 38.5 percent, followed by Hillsborough at 32.1 percent and Foster City at 25.5 percent. Menlo Park, by contrast, has projected an 8.9 percent increase.

The transition to Recology culminates a more than five-year process that put the RethinkWaste contract out to bid for the first time since the agency formed in 1982.

Allied also lost its job running RethinkWaste’s Shoreway facility in San Carlos, which will now be managed by South Bay Recycling.

What they pay now

Current quarterly garbage rates for some Peninsula cities:

San Mateo: $39.28
Foster City: $53.34
Burlingame: $57.24
San Carlos: $66.57
Menlo Park: $71.31
Redwood City: $74.19
Belmont: $75.36

Source: City of San Mateo

The price to come

Projected rate increases this year as a result of new garbage-collection company. Actual increases will be decided by each agency individually. Residents can see if their service day has changed on Recology’s website, Figures are by percentage increase.

Atherton: 38.5
Belmont: 18.6
Burlingame: 13.9
East Palo Alto: 21.0
Foster City: 25.5
Hillsborough: 32.1
Menlo Park: 8.9
Redwood City: 15.5
San Carlos: 12.7
San Mateo: 15.8
West Bay Sanitary District: 13.9
Unincorporated San Mateo County: 3.9

Source: South Bayside Waste Management Authority

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Shaun Bishop

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