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Free Large Item Collection Available for Sonoma County Residents


Talkin’ Trash: FREE Large Item Collection Available for Sonoma County Residents

By John Zenger

There was an article in the January 12 issue of the local daily paper that discussed the issues and costs to the environment and the taxpayers when people dump trash along the road and waterways. Interestingly, that article did not include information about several provisions that Redwood Empire Disposal, part of the Ratto Group, and also known as North Bay Corporation, has that could relieve some or all of these costs, and help eliminate roadside dumping tin the first place.

First of all, the 20-year agreement for service that Redwood Empire Disposal has with the County requires them to pick up roadside dumping anywhere in the unincorporated county at the request of the Public Works Department. These roadside pickup costs are included in the rates that we pay for garbage service, and there is not a limit specified in the agreement as to how much collection they must do. In addition, the trash hauler, which serves 9 out of 10 of the county’s solid waste service areas, is supposed to have a truck and driver on the road five days per week, scouring our rural roads for illegal dumping. Yet, according to the article, it is the probation crew is out picking up trash, and in 2009, the most recent costs available, the price for dealing with roadside dumping was $250,000 annually. Who is managing these costs and assuring the rate and taxpayer is not getting dinged twice?

Secondly, there is also a little known service provision in the trash hauler agreement could help relieve some of this illegal dumping. Every garbage customer in the unincorporated county (Santa Rosa City limits as well) is entitled to four large item collections, of up to 3 cubic yards each, every year. For free. It is included in the rates paid by all county garbage service customers. This means that tires, mattresses, electronics, water heaters, refrigerators, carpet, or other items too large for your trash (but that can be handled with special equipment, can be picked up curbside four times per year at no cost to you. You are even entitled to having a three-yard bin delivered four times per year to put those items into. You just need to be a paid-up garbage customer for 12 months. This service is also available to multifamily and mobile home complexes at the same level of service as for residential accounts. Service is required to be provided within 72 hours of request. 

Most of you reading this are unlikely the perpetrators of illegal roadside dumping. It is nice however, to know that there are mechanisms in place to address roadside dumping, and to spread the word about the free bulky item program available to County (and Santa Rosa) garbage customers.

To Report Roadside Dumping:

Public Works - Road Maintenance (707) 565-5100

To Request Bulky Item Collection:

Redwood Empire Disposal (800) 243-0291

For questions about Roadside Dumping or RED Contract

Public Works - Administration (707) 565-2231


4.1.6 Bulky Item Pick-up Service.

(a) Conditions of Service. Company shall provide Bulky Item collection service to all Single Family Dwelling Units in the Service Area whose Bulky Items have been placed within three (3) feet of the curb, swale, paved surface of the public roadway, closest accessible roadway, or other such location agreed to by the Company and customer, that will provide safe and efficient accessibility to the Company’s collection crew and vehicle. If requested by the customer, Company shall provide a bin for the Bulky Item collection at no additional cost to the customer. The customer shall be limited to three (3) cubic yards or three (3) Bulky Items per collection; however, in no event shall the aggregate of Bulky Items exceed the equivalent of three (3) cubic yards. Accordingly, Company shall be compensated for the cost of collecting Bulky Items in excess of this limitation in accordance with the “Additional Large Item Collection” service rate as set forth in Exhibit E or as may be adjusted under the terms of this Agreement. Each Single Family Dwelling Unit in the Service Area shall be entitled to receive Bulky Item collection service up to four (4) times per calendar year, provided, however, that if a customer has an account that has been in place for less than 12 consecutive months, Company may limit the Bulky Item collection service to one time per quarter in each calendar year.

(b) Frequency of Service. Bulky Item collection service shall be provided within seventy-two (72) hours of receipt of the request, excluding Sundays and holidays, as set forth herein.

(c) Bulky Items Containing Freon. In the event Company collects Bulky Items that contain Freon, Company shall handle such Bulky Items in a manner such that the Bulky Items are not subject to regulation as hazardous waste under applicable state and federal laws or regulations.

 (d) Bulky Item Collection Service for Multi-Family Dwelling Units and Mobile

Home Parks. Company shall provide Bulky Item collection service to all Multi-Family Dwelling Units and Mobile Home Parks at the request of the Multi-Family Dwelling Unit manager or Mobile Home Park manager in a manner agreed to between Company and such manager. Multi-Family Dwelling Units and Mobile Home Parks shall be entitled to equivalent complimentary services as a Single Family Dwelling Unit (i.e., three (3) cubic yards four (4) times per year). Notwithstanding the foregoing, if a customer has an account that has been in placed for less than 12 consecutive months, Company may limit the Bulky Item collection service to one time per quarter in each calendar year.

 (e) Maximum Reuse and Recycling. Company shall not landfill such Bulky Items unless the Bulky Items cannot be reused or recycled. Company shall dispose of Bulky Items collected pursuant to this Agreement in accordance with the following hierarchy:

Reuse as is (where energy efficiency is not compromised)

Disassemble for reuse or Recycling


Disposal (unless prohibited by law)


Thank you for this useful article. I do however have a point that needs clarification. 

You mention that the service includes the use of a 3-yd bin for the four pickups per year. A bulky item rate fee schedule from Ratto’s website (attached below) seems to state that a customer can get the four pickups OR the use of one 3-yd bin per year. From your research for this article…which is correct?


Charles Collins


Contract language is king. If he has any issues getting the service that is required under the contract, he should call either the city representative or the county representative depending on where he lives.