Update: The Alameda County fee for safe disposal of household hazardous waste was passed by the Stopwaste Board late last month. Baykeeper is glad that this program will continue to help keep toxic substances out of San Francisco Bay.
Baykeeper recently advocated in favor of a proposed Alameda County fee that will provide funding to continue a successful program for safe disposal of household hazardous waste, such as batteries, paint, solvents, and pesticides. The program helps curb illegal dumping of this waste, which keeps toxic substances from polluting San Francisco Bay.
The proposed $9.95 yearly fee on each residential unit has generated protest from property owners and landlords. Without the fee, the program will be able to safely dispose of only half as much hazardous waste as it could with the fee.
When people don’t have a safe, legal way to dispose of harmful materials, it increases the prevalent problem of illegal disposal. “Many thousands of gallons of caustic substances get dumped down household drains, into storm drains, into creeks, at parks, and at other places that connect to San Francisco Bay. This harms the Bay’s ecosystem, wildlife, and people who use the Bay for recreation,” said Baykeeper Program Director Jason Flanders.
The agency proposing the fee, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, or StopWaste, funds four hazardous waste drop-off sites in Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, and Livermore. Waste left at the sites is disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
The hazardous waste program is currently funded through a per-ton fee on trash disposed in landfills. However, that fee has not changed since 2000, and since then, Alameda County has responsibly reduced the amount of trash it sends to landfills.
After thousands of property owners and landlords protested the fee, which would be collected on property taxes for each residential unit, the proposal was voted down at the StopWaste board’s April meeting. It will come up for another vote at the next meeting, on May 28, when additional board members may be present.
Baykeeper continues to support Alameda County’s program to safely dispose of hazardous household waste, and we will keep advocating for policies, laws, and regulations that keep toxic substances from polluting San Francisco Bay.