While the rest of Napa was cleaning up after Sunday’s earthquake, dumping piles of broken dishes and glasses into garbage cans, the employees of Napa Recycling and Waste Services (NRWS) were mobilizing to receive the product of the disaster.
Tim Dewey-Mattia, recycling and public education manager at the company, said that the first thing Napa Recycling did was send 30-yard debris boxes out to grocery stores such as Vallerga’s, Safeway, Lucky and Browns Valley Market. Those grocers were “ground zero” in terms of destroyed food and perishable items, he said.
Next, NRWS started setting up public drop-off sites at schools and other areas for locals to leave earthquake debris. And did they ever.
“It’s been really busy,” Dewey-Mattia said. He estimated that by Thursday morning, NRWS had collected 1,300 tons of earthquake debris. That’s 2.6 million pounds — “about four times the normal amount of garbage we service in a four-day time period.”
The debris includes bricks, broken glass, dishes, furniture, TVs and other e-waste. “We are seeing so many broken TVs, like from hotels,” Dewey-Mattia said.
As of Thursday, debris drop-off sites had been consolidated to three locations:
* the southwest corner of First Street and Laurel
* the Las Flores Community Center at 4300 Linda Vista Ave.
* the recommended primary site, a large lot on Third Street east of Soscol Avenue.
Several of the 30-yard red debris boxes are located at each site, said Dewey-Mattia.
The need for the large debris boxes for the earthquake cleanup comes at a particularly difficult time, said Dewey-Mattia. While the facility has hundreds of such boxes, with harvest underway, “a lot of our boxes are already at wineries for crush,” he said. As of Thursday, “There is a wait time of several days for debris boxes. We have run through our whole inventory.”
Dewey-Mattia said that garbage truck drivers have been able to pick up some excess garbage at household curbs during normal route collection days, but the city had encouraged residents to take their earthquake debris to the designated drop-off sites.
Dewey-Mattia requested that residents leave only earthquake debris, not regular garbage or other items at the drop-off sites. While the amount of debris being dropped off has slowed, drop-off sites will remain open “until it’s not needed,” he said.
The food waste from the damaged grocery stores had to go to the landfill, said Dewey-Mattia. “Normally we can compost the food,” but the grocery store detritus was made up mainly of broken bottles mixed with food and soiled packaging. “It was a big mess. You can’t sort it and it can’t be composted.”
Dewey-Mattia urged residents to dispose of broken glass and dishes in the trash, not the blue recycling toter. Window glass, ceramics and dishware cannot be recycled with the glass bottles and jars because they melt at different temperatures and cause contamination.
In addition, “We have also had a problem with contamination in the yard waste carts—people have been putting bricks, concrete and other masonry material” in the brown yard waste toters.
Yard waste consists of grass clippings, leaves, brush, garden prunings and such, Dewey-Mattia said. Rocks, bricks, concrete, dirt, cat or dog waste or painted wood should not go in the brown yardwaste bins, he said.
Dewey-Mattia said he doesn’t think people are purposely putting the wrong trash in the wrong bins.
“I think people are overwhelmed,” he said. “They don’t usually have to dispose of windows and bricks” and other such earthquake debris.
To help facilitate the cleanup, next week NRWS will mail all customers a free earthquake debris drop-off coupon so residents can bring waste to the NRWS transfer station at 889 Devlin Road in south Napa.
This is a separate coupon specifically for earthquake debris that is valid until Feb. 28, 2015, he said.
A separate free bulky item drop-off coupon, normally mailed in November, will also be mailed to customers in the coming days. It will allow free drop-off of items such as large appliances, mattresses and furniture at the NRWS recycling facility at 820 Levitin Way.
E-waste such as TVs and computers as well as metal appliances can always be dropped off for free at 820 Levitin Way, said Dewey-Mattia. City residents can also call for a free e-waste or metal appliance pickup at the curb.
The Napa-Vallejo household hazardous waste collection facility is available to accommodate the disposal of household hazardous waste such as paint, batteries, paint thinner, cleaning supplies, fluorescent bulbs and motor oil.
It’s located adjacent to the Devlin Road Transfer Station and is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Disposal is always free for households. Businesses must make an appointment and pay a fee.