West Marin waste hauler launching audit prompted by reports of mixing


Is the truck that picks up your garbage combining trash and recyclables? The San Francisco company Recology, which in December launched a new Sonoma-Marin branch and began servicing much of West Marin, has just embarked on a two-month auditing process to analyze inefficiencies that may be encouraging drivers to toss the contents of different bins into a single compartment. Numerous residents have reported this practice, which the previous company that served West Marin, Redwood Empire Disposal, also was criticized for. The general manager of Recology’s Sonoma-Marin branch, Fred Stemmler, said he encourages residents to call the customer service hotline if they witness combining—a practice Recology does not condone. So why does it happen? Only smaller trucks can navigate the more difficult terrain of many local roads, and those vehicles are outfitted with just one compartment, requiring drivers to make two trips. “We think that sometimes, if there are too many stops on a single route, drivers can’t complete the day,” Mr. Stemmler said. “Auditors will ride along with drivers over the course of the next few months, analyzing how to make the trips more efficient and the work more equitable.” Mr. Stemmler said his office had already put in a request for five more trucks, either new ones or transfers from other locations, for the Marin-Sonoma service area. For the residences that are the most difficult to reach, some possible alternative measures following the audits may include requiring people to take their own garbage to the nearest more accessible locations—such as a nearby intersection—or Recology modifying the truck equipment it uses. This would be required for less than 1 percent of customers, Mr. Stemmler estimated. Per Recology’s contract with the county, any changes to existing routes, collection days or times requires prior written approval by the county as well as two-week notice to customers. To report combining, call Recology Sonoma Marin at (800) 243.0291, or send an email via the website at recology.com/recology-sonoma-marin/contact/.