Palo Alto Businesses Would Have to Compost Under Zero Waste Initiative

Palo Alto business owners might soon be required to compost as part of a citywide effort to significantly reduce waste.

Thirty percent of Palo Alto businesses already voluntarily use green dumpsters to dispose of compost materials. But the city is pushing to make it mandatory for all businesses as part of the Zero Waste Palo Alto initiative.

Restaurant and cafe owners in the city agree with the idea so long as the change is rolled out at a pace that gives them time to comply.

"I'd like to see it move in that direction but I don't want to see something like that imposed just immediately," said Gillian Robinson, co-owner of Zombie Runner and Espresso Café.

"It does take time for businesses to change how they handle all their garbage and I can understand restaurants on either side of us having some difficult challenges ahead of them with that," she said.

The city of Palo Alto says the ordinance would roll out in three phases starting first businesses with the largest waste, then medium waste businesses, and then small.

Merchants stand to save money on required composting while the city is projected to lose $78,000 dollars after three years.

"As we get closer and closer to zero waste, we also get closer and closer to zero revenue for the city," said Phil Bobel, the city's assistant director of Public Works.

"So at some point we are going to have to change our fee structure because it's not zero cost to the city. It still costs us money to pick up this money, costs us money to process it."

Training will be given by the city to business owners to educate them on composting. If businesses don't comply, they will first receive a warning and eventually be charged a $77 trash pick up fee.

The ordinance isn't expected to be voted on and implemented until April 2016.

Contact Us