The Hollister City Council on Sept. 22 approved a three-year contract extension with Recology San Benito, implementing the second part of a 10-year contract that began in 2008. The seven-year initial phase will roll into the second phase on June 30, 2015 as city officials prepare for expected regulatory changes in the future.

City Manager William Avera told the council in a special study session that it’s expected that the state will ban organics from landfills within the next three to five years, which would require that green waste and food waste be collected separately from regular trash pick-up. Asked by councilmembers whether these changes would have an impact on customers in the short-term, Avera said there will be no service changes during the remaining life of the contract, which was unanimously approved Monday night.

“Our jurisdictions need to do more to reach this mandate,” he said in his report. “The waste industry is evolving from disposal and recycling to materials management as more and more material can be reused into energy or recyclable products.”

The city of Hollister, county of San Benito and city of San Juan Bautista will each appoint one member to a newly-created materials management committee that will help assess how best to meet the expected mandates in the coming years.

On a separate matter, Phil Couchee of Recology responded to a question from Mayor Ignacio Velazquez about the issue of people going through bins curbside to pull out recyclables.

“Once mateial goes to the street, it’s the property of Recology,” Couchee said. “If people are scavenging, they’re doing so illegally.” He also noted that Recology doesn’t want to be the “garbage police,” as it is up to the Hollister Police Department to respond to citizen complaints about scavenging.

While Councilman Victor Gomez acknowledged that scavenging is an issue and that it has happened in his neighborhood “quite a bit,” he said he “can think of a million things I’d rather have the police do than” patrol for recycling scavengers.