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Zero Waste Costing Palo Alto

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PALO ALTO, Calif. (KCBS)- In an ironic twist, Palo Alto’s garbage fund is going broke because residents are doing such a good job recycling.

Many cities are trying to achieve zero waste, but even zero waste has its costs.

Recycling is up to 77 percent in Palo Alto, but the city has to pay $700 thousand dollars to the landfill, even if garbage disposal drops to zero.[pullquote quote="What's ironic is zero waste is zero dollars." credit="Palo Alto City Councilman Gregg Scharff"]

Palo Alto City Councilman Gregg Scharff says unfortunately there’s a contract in place that doesn’t run out until 2021.

The “put or pay” contract, as he calls it means that you have to either deliver so much waste, or you have to pay the contractor a certain amount of money.

“What’s ironic is that while zero waste is an excellent thing that we’re shooting for, zero waste when you charge for a garbage collection, zero waste is zero dollars,” Scharff.

One proposal to make up the difference is increasing refuse rates six percent.

Many residents here say that’s just garbage.

“Right now people can barely afford to live in Palo Alto. I think they have to look at something else, some other area that they can cut down on,” commented one resident.

In the meantime, the City Council has instructed their staff to do just that.

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