Garbage collector could change in January

  • Thursday, August 4, 2011

After more than 20 years, Summerville could contract with a new garbage collector starting in January.
The public works committee recommended Wednesday that the council award a contract to Waste Pro to replace current provider Suburban Disposal.
The town had asked for proposals for garbage and recycling pickup and then for pickup along with an enhanced recycling program.
Councilman Terry Jenkins, chair of the public works committee, said the committee recommended Waste Pro because it offered the lowest cost when a recycling rewards program was included.
Waste Pro’s estimate was $8.68 per household per month, Suburban’s was $8.77 and Waste Industries’ was $8.84, he said. Seven companies responded to the town’s request for proposals, but the three with the lowest estimates made presentations at the meeting.
The current contract is for $8.77 with weekly garbage pickup and twice-monthly recycling pickup.
Howard Burnett, municipal development manager for Waste Pro, told the committee the company intends to set up its Charleston-area headquarters within Summerville town limits.
It would create 15 jobs at an average salary of $40,000, he said, and expects to expand to about 60 jobs as it bids for additional contracts in the area. He promised that the company has live people, not automated systems, answer the phones.
Waste Pro would provide households with 18-gallon recycling bins, and extra bins if necessary at no charge, and would collect recycling on the garbage day, Burnett said. It would also do bulk pickups on Saturdays, he said, which the town currently handles.
The company’s rewards programs would allow everyone who recycles to log on to the rewards site and claim the month’s coupons. That is fairer than a points program based on weight in which a large family would automatically rack up more points than an individual, he said. Plus, with the Waste Pro program, recyclers could print and use the month’s coupon every single day if they wished, he said.
Dave Bevacqua, general manager of Suburban, said the company’s proposal represents a $143,000 savings when the enhanced recycling program is factored in.
The company would provide each household with a 95-gallon cart for single-stream recycling and would allow households to enroll in the Recylebank program, in which households would earn an average of $100 to $200 per year in discounts for products at local and national businesses, he said.
Summerville would also have the advantage of contracting with a local company that has autonomous decision-making power yet the backing of its national parent company, Republic Services, he said.
Having that backing means the company can respond with additional resources in times of emergency, he said. Collections would never need be disrupted, he said.
“We’re the only company with the capacity to do that,” he said.
Suburban employs 140 people, including 46 Summerville residents, he said. It has a local payroll of $9.1 million.
Republic’s other local divisions include management of the Charleston County Material Recovery Facility, which means Suburban has complete control over the entire waste materials cycle, from curbside pickup to recycling, he said.
Bevacqua also warned that changing providers is disruptive. It’s nearly impossible to take over collections for 15,000 households without months of disruption, he said.
Burnett disputed that assertion.
He invited the town to contact any of the six cities that Waste Pro began serving July 1 to see if the transition had been problematic.
He said the company has handled transitions in more than 100 municipalities and hasn’t had problems, “certainly not six months worth of problems.”
Jenkins said Waste Industries wasn’t considered because it didn’t propose a recycling rewards program.
JoBrent Austin, government affairs and development manager, told the committee that Waste Industries offered the lowest price for basic garbage and recycling pickup.
She said the enhanced recycling program comes at a cost, which might not be worth it to the town during these economic times.
Instead, the company would focus on education and improving rates of recycling with the current program, she said.

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