Recology: Oakmonters Enthusiastic About Recycling

Oakmont demonstrated its commitment to recycling and improving disposal practices when an estimated 120 residents showed up April 30 for a presentation by Anita Migliore, Recology’s Zero Waste specialist.

Observing it was one of the largest and most engaged crowds she had spoken to in a while,” Migliore answered questions for over an hour. Some people came prepared with items and asked where each should be disposed of – trash or recycle bin?

In response Migliore clarified that potato chip bags, pens, hoses, coffee cups, all Styrofoam containers and plastic utensils go in the trash as does dog and cat waste and empty pet food bags.

Junk mail is recyclable but greeting cards that talk or contain Mylar or other decoration are not. It is against the law for residents to put needles and syringes in the trash. Special containers should be used and then dropped off at disposal sites.


“The days of throwing everything in landfills are over,” Migliore said. “We’ve seen tremendous change and growth of awareness.” She added Sonoma County has a way to go with only 40 percent of its debris diverted from landfills compared to 80 percent for the city of San Francisco.                                              Acknowledging a price increase after Recology won the city’s contract, Migliore noted the company bought all new trucks and has invested heavily infrastructure. Beginning at 3 a.m., each truck collects three loads and serves 1,000 customers daily. Recyclables are hand-sorted and then run through special equipment with spinning discs before being baled and shipped.

China is first in taking recycled materials from the U.S., but its standards have become more stringent.China used to accept shipments with 5 percent contamination. It is now .05% so shippers have to be extra vigilant in sorting out materials that have been contaminated, accordingto Migliore. She told the audience to think “clean and dry” when putting items in recycling bins. Cans and glass jars, such as for mayonnaise, should be washed, towel dried and disposed of with lids on.  Newspapers, plastic containers, cardboard, paper bags and glass bottles are all recyclable. Paper is recyclable unless it has been exposed to Windex or some other chemical.

The Recology spokeswoman urged the audience to compost more since the processed soil is highly sought after by farmers. Napkins, tissues, coffee grounds and tea leaves can all be composted.  Stickers on foods should be removed. Her presentation noted that recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil, 7,000 gallons of water and 3 cubic yards of landfill space.

Attendees also found out about resources where they can donate or dispose of unwanted items. Clean Harbors Environmental Services picks up hazardous waste for free from anyone at least 80 years old. St. Vincent de Paul makes rags from damaged clothing. Stores such as Batteries+ Bulbs and Friedman’s will accept used batteries from their customers.  Many nurseries will take back the small green/black plastic containers used for flowers and plants. Safeway accepts plastic bags.

Although not related to trash disposal, one attendee asked for clarification on where garbage bins should be placed.  Best practice, according to Migliore, is on streets with sidewalks, place them against the curb so sidewalks remain clear for pedestrians.

Residents can pick up Sonoma County 2019 Recycle Guides and Recology newsletters at the OVA office.