In response to widespread anger and complaints over the soaring cost of the new RecycleLA program, the City Council voted Wednesday to study the possibility of allowing businesses to share waste bins.
The motion was approved with a vote of 11-0 and authorized the Bureau of Sanitation to report on the feasibility of the bin-sharing option as a way to reduce costs for some businesses.
Councilman Mitchell Englander, who is a co-author of the motion, said he had spoken to two waste collection providers and that they both were supportive of the idea.
“I’ve had some conversations with some providers, including the one that services my district, Waste Management, and they said that they would be willing to work with businesses on bin sharing and that it was the right thing to do,” Englander said before adding that he had also spoken to Athens Services.
The franchise waste hauling system that went into effect July 1 is meant to expand recycling opportunities to thousands of businesses and apartment buildings while also cutting down on pollution by reducing the number of trucks on the street.
Under the RecyceLA system, seven companies handle an estimated $3.5 billion in commercial waste hauling in Los Angeles. Each company is assigned as the sole trash hauler for commercial sites and multi-family complexes in one or more of the city’s 11 zones.
Some City Council members have reported that since the rollout of the program their offices have been inundated with angry phone calls. Some businesses have said their fees have doubled, tripled or quadrupled under the new program while quality of service has plummeted.
“Since the initial rollout of RecycLA last month, my office has been inundated with calls and correspondence from small businesses, landlords, and homeowners associations expressing a common series of complaints and confusion: a lack of advanced notification, missed pick-ups, and significant or miscalculated rate increases,” Councilman Mike Bonin wrote in a letter to Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who is chair of the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee and was also a chief architect of the program.
Englander also said his office was getting flooded with calls at a recent meeting of the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee.
“We’re all getting the same phone calls each and every day. Our office is overloaded,” Englander said. “In fact, I don’t remember a time where we’ve gotten so many irate phone calls over one particular issue that’s directly impacting so many different people.”
It is hoped that by allowing businesses to share bins — rather than being required to have their own — the motion approved by the council will help reduce fees.
“Some businesses indicated that each business is required to have a set of bins which are subject to an established fee structure,” the motion states. “These businesses stressed that they generate far less recycling and waste materials that would justify having individual bins. As a result, they have half or quarter-filled bins, yet are paying the full price of each bin. In some cases, these businesses complained that the bin charges are too high.”