Kern County Waste Management Director Doug Landon says the county is receiving pressure from the state to beef up its recycling. California requires cities and counties to increase recycling 75 percent by the year 2020. And so far, Landon says not many residents in the unincorporated metropolitan Bakersfield area are recycling enough.
"We tried the voluntary approach. We have a voluntary program now, but less than 5 percent of people do it at the very affordable $4 per month, and very few people are taking advantage of that," Landon says.
Bakersfield started its universal blue bin program in March. It expects to have 90,000 residents recycling.
"It's going well, and, as we speak, we're delivering the first of 80,000 carts,” says Kevin Barnes, Director of Bakersfield's Solid Waste Division. “We're delivering a few hundred a day on the street, and it is a two-year project."
City residents aren't charged extra fees to use their blue bins, but the county plans to charge $3 per month or $36 a year on top of regular trash collection fees.
"I don't think it’s right,” says John Banks, an Oildale resident. "Because I recycle my own, I don't need their bin to take it down in."
Some of the areas where the county would place a blue recycling bin include Rosedale, Oildale, and Lamont. County supervisors are scheduled to vote on the blue bin proposal November 13th.
If the board approves, starting January 1, 2013, a blue bin will be added to the green and brown bins and picked up bi-weekly. Landon says it will take about nine months to deliver all the county bins to 43,000 homes and collect about 6,000 tons of recyclables.
Many people say having a blue bin is a good idea, but they don’t want to pay the extra fee.
"We’re scraping now trying to make it,” Banks says. “And, that extra few dollars, I can't afford it."
Landon says the money goes to the trash haulers running the program.
"It’s going to be some number of people that would rather not do this at all,” Landon says. “We understand that, but to make the project affordable everybody's got to participate."
You can voice your opinion and learn more about the county's blue bin program on Thursday at a public workshop. It will be held in the first floor conference room at the Kern County Public Services building at 2700 M Street at 6:30 p.m.