City Council considers trashing existing waste collection facility

Gisselle Reyes/Staff

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With Berkeley’s waste collection facility in a state of disrepair, the city is moving toward a long-awaited, state-of-the-art facility with ambitions piled higher than trash-sorting and recycling.

A presentation for the future revamping of the city’s waste transfer facility came before City Council at a special meeting Tuesday evening. Design mock-ups for the future transfer station, which would process and aggregate local waste, brought the decades-awaited plan into clearer focus.

“I’ve lived here 42 years, and the pictures do not really show the full experience of the current transfer station,” said District 4 City Councilmember Kate Harrison. “I really appreciate your work in doing that and in recovering materials.”

Presenters from Zero Waste Collaborative Inc. noted that the construction process will be lengthy. Before the project is brought to fruition, they said it will need to undergo environmental review and a geotechnical study.

Two design concepts, each with a different layout, were presented at the meeting. Site concept plan A opts for a joint transfer station and material recovery facility, whereas site plan B aims to break the two into separate buildings.

“We support both options and both will help us reach our zero waste goals,” said Deborah Beyea, deputy director at The Ecology Center. “We will do whatever it takes to make this happen.”

Regardless of the chosen layout, the new site plans will be fitted with rooftop solar panels, wind turbines for on-site power production, rainwater capture and reuse features, electric charging stations, design for future electrification of the collection fleet, an environmental education center with a public tour program and educational kiosks.

Urban Ore founder Dan Knapp said the original transfer station was designed for the construction of an incinerator. In 1982, however, voters stopped the construction of the incinerator.

The new transfer station would resolve many of the issues with the current station including “terrible” queuing and trucks having to wait to dump materials, Knapp said. Knapp also favored the single building design, stating that it does not make sense to split the station in two.

Mary Lou Van Deventer, an Urban Ore board member, said the current transfer station needs to be replaced because it is “dilapidated” and “extremely inefficient.” She added that the original site was only designed to process garbage.

In addition to diverting a higher percentage of trash away from landfills, the proposed facility will be set up to educate visitors and looks to provide access to the nearby Codornices Creek, adding to its goal of promoting environmental stewardship.

In the meeting, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said he prefers plan A and believes the new station should focus on achieving zero waste while remaining flexible in anticipation of any future opportunities or challenges.

The transfer station could also help the transition from recycling to reusing materials, according to Arreguín.

The final cost of the new transfer station will not be known until the bidding process, however

“It sounds like whatever this body can do to expedite or remove hurtles in the process that may arise in future, we would love to be a part of it,” said District 7 City Councilmember Rigel Robinson in the meeting.

Contact Kaleo Mark and Brandon Yung at [email protected].