Waste Management, Oakland agree on lower composting fees
- The city of Oakland, CA and Waste Management have agreed to lower businesses' fees for disposing of food wastes. The City Council will consider the new rates, which will be proposed soon, at a meeting on Sept. 29. East Bay Express calculated the composting prices would be 42% lower than the rates that went into effect July 1.
- In a letter to the council, 35 restaurant owners complained about 80% to 120% increases in composting rates. East Bay Express reported that it costs businesses more to compost than to throw waste in the trash, giving restaurants no incentive to compost. Under the new proposal, however, business composting services would be cheaper than trash services, according to council member Annie Campbell Washington.
- Waste Management is the exclusive provider of trash and composting services in the city. Previously, commercial composting was not part of the city's agreement, which meant that restaurants could choose any provider to haul food waste.
Oakland wants to encourage composting as part of its "zero waste" and sustainability goals. But restaurants "work on a razor-thin margin," Campbell Washington said, and making it more economical for them to dump food than compost it isn't desirable for anyone.
The city and Waste Management responded quickly to businesses' concerns. But some restaurant owners say the new rates don't go far enough, and they will still be paying more than they were before July for composting.
Across the nation, industry leaders and city governments have been working to reach "zero waste" goals by promoting recycling and composting efforts. However, the costs of these efforts — many times resulting in fees for participants and customers — have been causing good intentions to backfire.