Recycling and Anxiety in Berkeley 

A proposal to increase recycling fees in Berkeley has brought the feud between poachers and residents to a boil.

Page 4 of 4

In contrast to Berkeley, most cities contract waste and recycling collection to private companies. Bourque said only ten other cities statewide have city-run waste collection programs. Waste Management and California Waste Solutions share recycling pickup in Oakland, where residents also receive an un-itemized bill. That's because when recycling was first integrated into waste removal services, the city feared people would try to opt out of recycling if they thought they were paying for it, according to Becky Dowdakin, Oakland's solid waste and recycling program supervisor. "We're realizing we need to stop hiding the cost," she said, "and tell people: 'This is what it costs, this is what you have to pay. I'm sorry you thought it was free. It isn't.'"

Still, for residents who have watched hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of recyclables slip through the city's fingers, the fee system is a matter of semantics. And residents simply don't want to pay more. A 32-gallon waste can in Berkeley now costs a single residence $27.10 a month — more than in Alameda, Richmond, Albany, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Dublin, and San Leandro, but less than in Oakland and Piedmont.

Still, the poaching problem will never be solved as long as people are raiding blue bins to pay their bills, Bartlett noted. "We need a national employment initiative; we need it really bad," he said. "This poaching thing is a naked degeneration of our quality of life."

For his part, Mario said he won't stop making the rounds until he can afford to live off his wages again: "You don't make that much money [from poaching], but you can still get something to eat."

Comments (26)

Showing 1-25 of 26

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-25 of 26

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Readers also liked…

Latest in Feature

  • Weathering the Heat

    In the decades ahead, as temperatures rise and droughts intensify, Northern California's climate, vegetation, and wildlife may look more like Southern California does today.
    • Nov 15, 2017
  • The Laney College Opposition

    Many faculty members and students are either skeptical or completely against the A’s’ plans to build a ballpark next to the campus.
    • Nov 7, 2017
  • New Ballpark Could Devastate Lake Merritt's Birds

    Environmentalists say the stadium could cause a die-off of birds and force them to leave the area completely.
    • Nov 7, 2017
  • More »

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

  • Weathering the Heat

    In the decades ahead, as temperatures rise and droughts intensify, Northern California's climate, vegetation, and wildlife may look more like Southern California does today.
  • Fourth Ex-City Worker Alleges Oakland Auditor Abuse

    Mary Seymour, a performance audit manager, says Oakland City Auditor Brenda Roberts created a toxic and hostile work environment.
  • The Return of the Crematorium

    Overburdened with air pollution, East Oakland residents and activists thought they had blocked a crematorium from opening in 2012. But it quietly began operations a few months ago.
  • New Oakland Law Fails to Protect Low-Income Residents

    Despite temporary rules enacted by the city council to preserve low-income SRO housing, property owners are converting buildings into boutique hotels.
  • The Spanish Teaching Shortage

    In Oakland, where the shortage of language instructors is particularly acute, the school district has been recruiting teachers from Mexico and Spain.

Special Reports

Taste, Fall 2017

Fall Arts 2017

Our Picks for the Best Events of the Fall Arts Season

© 2017 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation