San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor Recology Smart Carts: How Are They Working? | The White Oaks Blog
Living in San Carlos November 11, 2010

Recology Smart Carts: How Are They Working?

by Chuck Gillooley

How is the Change?

By now, most residents of San Carlos have received their new garbage and recycle carts from Recology, the company that will be assuming garbage and recycle collection service in San Carlos starting on January 1 of 2011.  Some residents, like those in parts of Oak Park and White Oaks, have had their new carts for nearly a month, so they’ve had ample time to formulate their opinion on the new service.

While much has remained the same with the service — Allied Waste is still picking up the trash and recycles until January 1 — a few things are significantly different from before.   And according to the informational sessions that Recology has been hosting recently, not all of the change has been positive.

New Carts, Different Service.

There are several notable changes in how garbage and recyclables are collected in the new bins.  First of all, every household got a standard 32 gallon wheeled garbage cart, which is admittedly smaller than what many residents were previously using.    This was likely not an accident, since there has been an ongoing effort to divert more and more of what we consider “garbage” from going to our landfill.  So to make the smaller garbage cart useful for more families, Recology has broadened the scope of what can be recycled — food scraps, food-soiled paper products, etc — thus diverting more garbage.

“Hard” recycling is different too.  Rather than sort paper products from the cans and bottles, you now simply dump them all in the blue wheeled cart.  This obviously makes it more conducive for everyone to recycle, but I have to imagine its a nightmare sorting it all out at the transfer station.

Growing Pains.

Like anything that’s new, there are always growing pains — and this has been no exception.  With all of that stuff that was previously considered garbage now finding its way into the recycle carts, those carts are filling up much more quickly than before.   With the previous service, you were allowed to put as many recycle bins on pick-up day as you liked — at no additional charge.    The new Recology service only allows one blue cart every other week — if you need a second bin, there’s an additional charge.   This certainly doesn’t encourage people to take the extra effort to recycle if the blue cart is bursting at the seams long before it’s due to be picked up.

And there has been confusion in some neighborhoods during the roll-out period as far as what gets picked up when, resulting in some full carts sitting full on the curbside for days, leaving residents frustrated.

Better or Worse?

So what is your impression of the new service so far?   Admittedly, it’s still early for some neighborhoods as they got the new carts last week.  But has the change been good, or was it better before?   Make sure to vote in the poll in the right sidebar of the blog, or voice your thoughts in the comment section below.
__________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
Don’t miss a single update!
_____________________________________________________________________________

GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Comments 17
  • Won’t the blue recycle bins be picked up every week after January 1st? If so, then the size of the blue container is not a problem. If not, then it will be a problem. Before the change occured, we had two 32 gallon containers for recycling (one for paper and the other for glass/cans/plastics).

    – Ray

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • With the blue recycling bin filling up fast, I’m now aware of all the “stuff” we buy. The biggest culprit seems to be the bulk packaging from Costco.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • RayB –

    Yes, the recycling bins will be picked up WEEKLY, rather than every other week, starting January 1 when Recology takes over.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • We haven’t gotten our new carts yet, and I can’t wait!

    I do know some of the history of this program. We are building a new recycling center that will have state-of-the-art sorting equipment, so it should be more efficient than having it done by humans, which is what happened before.

    Recology, and the city council, planned to give everyone a 32 gallon garbage cart, until citizens lobbied hard for making smaller carts available. We got various versions of “no” for a long time before they admitted that the 20 gallon carts are indeed available. I am scheduled to get a 20 gallon garbage cart next week. We had hoped for even more choices but had to be satisfied with 20 gallons.

    I’m not sure, but it seems to me I read just recently that during the transition period, when recycling is only picked up every other week, you can put out the old bins with any extra recycling.

    If you find that the blue bin is filling up too quickly, you can put paper in the green yard waste bin, along with the pizza boxes and food.

    Once you get used to this and put everyhting where it belongs, I think you’ll find that a 32 gallon garbage bin is quite generous. If you cut back to a 20 gallon garbage bin, your bill will go down, maybe even enough to offset the giant increase you will see next year.

    This is not rocket science; you can do this. It just takes a little getting used to.

    The shrink wrap plastic that Costco favors can go in the plastic bag recycling at the grocery store. That should be done curbside as well, but we aren’t there yet. It took us a year to convince the council to sign up for “organics” recycling – the food and pizza boxes in the greenwaste can.

    The only things in my garbage can are those plastics that can’t be recycled and the occasional piece of metal or something. We should outlaw those plastics, like styrofoam and that black stuff. Until then, it is pretty “squishable,” so if you actually get more than 20 gallons of it, you can smash it down to fit in the can. We spent a week in Pacific Grove at the end of last month, where restaurants are required to use either biodegradable (which would go in the greenwaste can) or recyclable (blue bin) containers. They have had a diversion rate above 60% for years, while we were struggling to get to 50%. And they don’t even have curb side organics recycling.

    Instead of feeling put-upon because you only got a 32 gallon garbage bin (and you can order a bigger one), why not turn it around and see how much you can divert. See if you can do such a good job of recycling that you don’t even fill the garbage cart. If you get your kids involved they’ll police you.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Apparently many homes have yet to get their bins. I saw what looked like thousands of them stored at the old Century theater parking lot in Redwood City, east of 101.
    We got ours last week; the yard waste bin is the only disappointment, smaller than the previous one.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • We have the greenwaste cart, and it doesn’t look substantially smaller than the old ones. We get our other ones this Thursday – can’t wait.

      I do think I’m going to need more than one greenwaste cart and maybe a second recycling one. I’m going to check on whether they want to charge us for extra carts or have bigger ones available.

      Stay tuned.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • This is all fine and dandy for the Greenie (and wannabe Greenie) hard core urbanites who live way down by the Bay on the flatlands, with wide curbed streets and minimal animal problems. But for the rest of us, this stinks – literally.

    A very obvious consideration in a scheme like this is, how vulnerable is it to varmints? The most obvious issues are with raccoons, but in addition, coyotes, cougars and soon, black bears, are also issues. (Did he write bears? Yes he did. Check out the most recent Cal Fish and Game range map depicting the range of black bears.)

    Obvious it may well be, but apparently either no one considered this, or, they did and ignored reality.

    Recently, someone on my road went away for a few days. The raccoons got to their black bin. Like I said, it stinks.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • there shouldn’t be anything smelly in the black bin; that should all be in the green bin for composting.

      The people who led the fight for this new system lie up in the hills with “the rest of [you]. May of them spoke at council meetings.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
    • Oh and once the bears do arrive, and get a taste of garbage, it will be an ongoing tragedy for bears and humans alike.

      Related side note – I am a real old “Greenie” (I was “Green” way before “Green” was cool), and I always learned and taught not to compost meat or dairy. While I realize there are now methods that take care of the larval issues, it’s still a bad practice. I am sure that most folks will not throw their meat and dairy based food waste into the “compost” container. Into the normal trash it will go, in many cases. But even if it is in the green container, so what? Mr. Bear don’t care which container he knocks over.

      Tragedy … on the way.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • It seems like people who live in varmint-prone areas can either (1) choose to dispose of their compost “down the drain” as they did in the past, to avoid the issue entirely; or (2) (as we do at my house) keep the compost safely away from bears, etc., in the Recology rolling cart in the garage, but, to avoid the stench (so that the garage doesn’t get stinky), in airtight compostable bags (such as the ones available here: http://www.biobagusa.com/ ). (It really helps, stink-wise, to double-bag the stuff).

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        GD Star Rating
        loading...
  • Obviously, standard trash cans will never stand up to bears. I don’t know what that has to do with the new Recology service. Did your neighbor’s old garbage can keep the raccoons out?

    The greenwaste container is larger and heavier than the average 32 gallon garbage cart and more difficult for the raccoons to get into, though probably not impossible.

    We hope to educate the public about the benefits of municipal composting (as opposed to the backyard composting you refer to) so that they will put ALL their garbage into the greenwaste container. We may not convince you, but maybe the raccoons will.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • While walking our dogs this morning, I counted 8 of our neighbors’ black and green recology bins tipped over and the contents all over the place.

    The wildlife around has figured out a way to tip the bins over (very easy since the wheels are too large and they clear the curb when pushed) and the bins themselves are top heavy (the bottoms are too narrow).

    At the very least there should be some sort of “kickstand” to steady the wheel-side of the bins. You can’t secure the lid since it will not be able to be emptied, so what other solution is there?

    Luckily for us they have left our bins alone, but it’s just a matter of time.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • The old greenwaste containers are the same shape as the new bins, and we’ve been putting food scraps in them for a long time. Did they tip those over?

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • They are the same shape, but they are much narrower than the green bins. This makes them top-heavy when they are packed full. When you put them on an street curb that’s not level, it doesn’t take much of a nudge to topple it right over. As I drive through San Carlos and RWC, I have seen quite a few of them on their sides, and those HUGE crows in there enjoying the feast.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        GD Star Rating
        loading...
      • Yep black bins and green bins are getting knocked over. We’ll see about the blue recycling bins next week. I am sure they will too since many people don’t rinse out the items before putting them in.

        Yes Chuck, the crows (coons, squirrels, skunks, rats, et al) are the big winners here.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        GD Star Rating
        loading...
Leave a comment