Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Department of Public Works



September 18, 2003


October 7, 2003



Honorable Board of Supervisors


Neil R. Cullen, Director of Public Works


Authorization to Purchase Compost Bins for the RecycleWorks Backyard Composting Program



Adopt a resolution authorizing the purchase of additional compost bins for resale through the RecycleWorks Backyard Composting Program.


Previous Board Action

Adopted the Source Reduction and Recycling Element (SRRE) in 1991 in compliance with State Law (AB 939).


Adopted a resolution in 1994 implementing the Countywide Residential Backyard Composting Program - now the RecycleWorks Backyard Composting Program (Composting Program) - as a program of the County's SRRE and authorized the purchase of 7,500 bins for resale through the Composting Program.


Adopted a resolution in 1997 authorizing the purchase of an additional 7,700 bins for resale through the Composting Program.


Key Facts


AB 939 mandates that every city and every county in California reduce its waste stream being landfilled by 50 percent (50%) by the year 2000 and maintain that level of diversion into the future.



Backyard composting reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill, teaches environmental stewardship, and increases the awareness of participants to recycle in other ways.



The Composting Program is a component of the County's effort to achieve and maintain compliance with AB 939.



We estimate that we will have sold slightly over 13,000 bins by the end of 2003.



Additional compost bins are needed if the Composting Program is to continue.



The Composting Program provides residents of the County with a compost bin at a discount and offers workshops and technical assistance on the proper method of composting. The workshops are given by Master Composters that have been trained through the Composting Program. Approximately 60 Master Composters have been trained and they have donated hundreds of hours of their time to the County by providing workshops throughout the community.


The initial intent of the Composting Program was to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. However, we believe that there are secondary benefits as the program also teaches environmental stewardship as well as encouraging the recycling of other materials by Composting Program participants.


The compost bin offered by the Composting Program was selected by a task force of recycling coordinators from seven cities in the County, and 97 percent (97%) of bin recipients in the Composting Program have rated the bin as good, very good, or excellent.


Vision Alignment

We believe that our recommendation is consistent with Goal 4 "residents have many educational and training opportunities beyond high school," and Goal 14 "important natural resources are preserved and enhanced through environmental stewardship," as the continuation of the Composting Program provides an educational opportunity to encourage reuse and conservation of limited resources.


Fiscal Impact

We are recommending that we be authorized to purchase up to 2,592 compost bins (bins are shipped in quantities of 432 - i.e. up to six shipments of 432 bins each = 2,592) pursuant to a two year agreement. The agreement provides for two one-year extensions at the option of the County. The vendor has agreed to provide 1/2 half of the total number of bins at $54 each, with the other 1/2 of the bins being provided during the two one-year extensions at a not to exceed price of $60 per bin. The total not-to-exceed amount of the vendor agreement is approximately $148,000 over the four-year period.


The bins are then offered to residents of San Mateo County at $35 per bin or a total revenue of approximately $90,000. The net cost of the bins therefore is approximately $58,000.


We are recommending that the cost of the bins be paid for from the Composting Program appropriation in the Solid Waste Fund Budget over the next four years.


There is no impact to the General Fund.


A form of Resolution has been approved by County Counsel.