Eureka council passes first reading of organics collection ordinance

Amanda Bullock / February 10,2023

On Tuesday, the Eureka City Council unanimously voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance requiring universal organics collection.

The ordinance, which repeals and replaces the city code around solid waste in order to include language about mandatory organics collection, requires organic waste collection and some stores and restaurants must donate and log excess edible food. The council will return to the item, which also demands the city use materials from organic waste and recycled paper, at a future meeting for a second vote and adoption.

“We currently have mandatory garbage and recycling with an optional green waste program, and the third bin for organics will become mandatory when that service is available,” Robin Praszker, the city’s environmental project manager said. “We are working on the infrastructure needed to implement such a service.”

The ordinance was necessitated by Senate Bill 1383, a California law mandating organics disposal in cities across the state in order to reduce methane emissions from landfills caused by decomposing organic waste, with the ultimate goal of reducing organic waste by 75% and recovering 20% of edible food being thrown away.

Commercial properties which generate significant green waste — such as grocery stores larger than 10,000 square feet, food distributors and large restaurants — are required by the ordinance to dispose of organic waste separately from recycling and trash in addition to donating and reporting edible food they were going to throw out. Commercial properties which do not generate much organic waste can fill out waivers to exempt themselves from the ordinance. The city is currently working on a report identifying and making contact with every business that could be affected in the city.

“We’ve aligned current city policy with new state policy as the nature of waste management has transformed quite a bit over the years,” Praszker said. “We also found that our definitions were much too expansive and work to only define terms that were necessary. So this is both a modernization update and regulatory update.”

Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery noted that, to his knowledge, roughly 10% to 20% of residents use a green bin system.

Councilmember Scott Bauer raised the question of properly funding the implementation of the ordinance, and Praszker said that Cal Recycle is in the middle of releasing a grant for organics processing, and the city might apply for it.

“There’s always a strategy of advocating and sending letters of support and all of that, and I think staff will remain diligent and if there’s any actions our council can take to make it clear to the state that we do need that support,” Praszker said.

The full meeting can be viewed at

Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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