- The San Jose Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to approve a 95-foot vertical expansion of Republic Services' Newby Island landfill in California. This will extend the landfill's estimated closure date from 2025 to 2041, as reported by The Mercury News.
- The city of Milpitas filed an appeal to San Jose's prior permit approval in 2014 which led to Republic paying for an odor study to be conducted. Some residents in Milpitas had opposed the expansion because of concerns about increased odors, while others from area municipalities supported it as a way to keep more waste out of their own landfills.
- While the study found that odors were present at the Newby Island site they were also found to be coming from a regional wastewater treatment plant, a sewage pump station, a separate landfill, tidal marshes and the San Francisco Bay.
In addition to the odor study, Republic has also been working to make odor mitigation upgrades at the Newby Island site and work out a class-action settlement with local residents. Opposition from residents in San Jose's Almaden Valley — home to Waste Management's Guadalupe Recycling and Disposal Facility — has also been a factor.
Since Waste Management won a landfill contract with Milpitas the two cities are set to be handling each other's waste. Republic attempted to challenge this decision by sponsoring the petition behind a ballot initiative but was unsuccessful after voters decided to stick with the plan of sending their waste to San Jose starting in the fall of 2017. The company subsequently lost out on a collection contract renewal with Milpitas as well.
There is a certain amount of irony in the fact that Republic will continue to operate a landfill in Milpitas even though local residents won't be sending waste to it anymore. As other municipalities in California and elsewhere pursue efforts to close down their own landfills the question of who will ultimately bear the responsibility of handling their waste still has no clear answer.