Garbage collection rates in the eastern unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County are increasing by 5.5 percent on July 1.

On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved the hike in price because its service provider, Recology, had increased costs of service as a result of recent regulatory changes in international importation standards for recyclable materials that have reduced the amount of revenue generated while simultaneously increasing the costs to process recyclables.

That impacted the county because Recology sells most of the county’s recyclables to China, said Jo Zientek, director of the county’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Agency.

Zientek said 4 percent of the 5.5 percent increase is attributed to the increased costs and 1.5 percent is because of the standard annual inflationary adjustment.

That means for those living in the flat lands of the unincorporated areas east of Alum Rock and Milpitas, garbage rates are changing from $39.33 per month to $41.40 per month for the standard 20-gallon container.

For those living in the harder-to-reach parts of the east district, monthly rates for the 20-gallon container will be $48.11.

Prior to the increase, Zientek said letters were mailed to the roughly 5,000 customers in the Unincorporated District East to inform and give them an opportunity to protest the hike by sending a letter or participating in Tuesday’s meeting.

Only two letters of protest were sent in, Zientek said.

However, residents in the east district may be eligible for a refund on some of those increases if conditions improve, Supervisor Otto Lee noted.

Zientek said potential refunds would be calculated during the annual audit.

She also noted the rate increase in the east district is much lower than other cities in the county, like San Jose, Santa Clara and Campbell that saw double-digit rate increases.

Residents who are low-income or struggling financially may be eligible for rates that are 43 percent to 45 percent lower than the proposed rates.

Lower rates can be applied to residents who qualify for PG&E’s CARE Program.

Residents can see if they qualify by calling 866-743-2273, emailing PG&E or visiting the utility’s eligibility page.