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Food scraps now OK in Sonoma County yard waste bins

Under a little-recognized shift in rules at Sonoma County’s Waste Management Agency, households are now allowed to throw all food scraps into the green bin, including meat, bones and dairy products.

Rules were changed last July, when the agency started hauling yard waste and food scraps to compost facilities outside Sonoma County, but agency officials did not inform the public. Since the closure of Sonoma Compost Co. last October, the agency has been trucking all yard and food waste to compost facilities in Novato, Ukiah and Vacaville.

“We didn’t tell everyone right away because we wanted to make sure what we were taking to the other sites was acceptable to them,” said Patrick Carter, interim executive director for the agency. “We wanted to make sure there was enough capacity, and we didn’t want to cause rates to go up.”

Ratepayers have already seen higher bills this year. Rates have risen roughly $4 per month since October, Carter said.

It costs about $4.5 million to truck organic waste out of county, up from $2 million when it was handled at the Central Landfill west of Cotati.

Waste accepted for compost includes produce, pasta and bread, eggshells, meat and bones, cheese, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, grass clippings and leaves and paper plates and napkins.

“We haven’t had an issue with it so far,” Carter said.

Carter said accepting all food scraps will help Sonoma County reduce the amount of garbage thrown into the landfill. At present, 17 percent of the 360,000 tons of garbage that goes into the county’s landfill is compostable food waste, Carter said.

“If all that material that’s going into the landfill can be diverted and made into soil and other products people want, that’s a good thing,” Carter said.

For guidelines on what can be placed in the green bins, click here.

You can reach Staff Writer Angela Hart at 526-8503 or angela.hart@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ahartreports.

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