Recycling levels in the Peninsula’s largest city are far below required standards and are even below recycling goals set for 1995, which could land Daly City in a heap of trouble.
If Daly City does not increase the amount of waste it recycles to 50 percent, Allied Waste Services, the city’s trash collector, could face state fines of $10,000 each day, or more than $3 million per year, by the end of 2008.
State law mandated that cities recycle 25 percent of waste by 1995 and 50 percent by 2000 — Daly City recycled 23 percent of its garbage in 2000. The percentage peaked at 38 percent in 2001 before dropping with the dot-com bust to the latest figure of 24 percent in 2005.
Reasons for the low percentage include poor education about recycling, language barriers, and the difficulty in promoting recycling in multifamily housing, city officials said.
Daly City has repeatedly received time extensions from the state board on achieving the 50 percent goal, but “they’ve run out of time,” said Kyle Pogue, a Bay Area Supervisor with the State Integrated Waste Management Board.
The board is likely to pass an order Tuesday to have Daly City, Allied and the state develop and implement a plan to achieve 50 percent recycling by the end of 2008.
The city is “very dissatisfied” with Allied’s service, especially recycling, and is negotiating to improve the programs, officials said.
Daly City residents are billed every two months between $15.38-$51.04 per container, depending on container size. Commercial businesses are billed every month. Allied Waste brings in roughly $12 million per year from the rates, Daly City Finance Director Don McVey said.
One improvement the city would like to see is a same-day pickup of recycling and garbage, which, McVey said, is “just the beginning of what we want them to do.” However, that could lead to rate increases.
“Theoretically, they can’t add additional services without additional rates,” McVey said.
Greg Cronin lives in Daly City and runs a carpet-cleaning business out of his home. He said recycling cuts his garbage in half, but the rules about how and what he can recycle change and are often confusing. He often determines what he can recycle through trial and error.
“The way you find out is sometimes the garbage guy will leave behind something you weren’t supposed to put in there,” Cronin said.
View California's minimum recycling standards on the state web site.