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Food/yard debris combo adds up to price increase

Forest Grove’s city council will soon consider a price increase for garbage service that coincides with new options for what residents can put in their cans.

If council members approve the plan Jan. 11, single-family-residence subscribers of Waste Management’s garbage service would be able to begin combining their everyday food waste into their yard debris bins as of May 1, 2016.

This added service, however, would come with an estimated price increase of either $1.48 or $1.68, depending on whether the city also implements an educational component to the overall change.

Because Waste Management would need to change the processing facility it uses from S & H Logging in Cornelius to Nature’s Needs in North Plains, the plan would require an extra $1.23 per household for direct processing costs.

An additional $0.25 would be added for franchise fees to the city, and $0.20 for community education materials.

However, Forest Grove Finance Director Paul Downey said the $0.20 increase for education would likely come from other sources, not homeowners.

As part of a combined commitment to sustainability, Forest Grove’s city staff and Waste Management view this change as a necessary one.

Not only will doubling up food and yard waste extend the life of area landfills by eliminating 50 tons of trash per year, but it will also generate compost that will be sold to prevent soil erosion, suppress plant disease, block weeds, and help to retain ground water.

And Forest Grove residents would even reap some benefits by having the option to claim one free yard of compost from Nature’s Needs per year.

Nature’s Needs already processes about 50,000 tons of combined food and yard waste per year from the city of Portland, but has the capacity for 80,000 tons.

Forest Grove would add only 3,026 tons per year, based on city staff estimations.

When the service change occurred in Portland, the biggest complaint from residents was in response to the change in days of service. For Forest Grove residents, the only change would be the rate increase, said Community Development Director Jon Holan.

Holan further explained the how and why details for the increase at a public forum Wednesday, Dec. 9, and answered community members’ questions.

One resident who doesn’t put out much “green” waste was concerned about the smell of rotting food and the potential for attracting critters and bugs.

As part of the service cost increase, Waste Management garbage truck drivers would be picking up the yard debris bins more often, which would help reduce the amount of time food was left to rot in the containers, said Waste Management Municipal Relations Manager Dean Kampfer.

Another resident asked if participation would be voluntary.

According to Tom Egleston, Washington County’s senior program coordinator for solid waste and recycling, yes, it would be voluntary, but the rates would increase for everyone, regardless of whether they participated. be mandatory for all subscribers.

Another asked what types of foods would be considered compostable.

Everything you eat, Egleston said. “From proteins (meats and dairy, but not liquids) to napkins and paper towels. If it grows it goes; and if it’s food, it can go in there — even bones.”