County extends trash-hauler contract six months
March 25, 2006
Trash-hauler Allied Waste Service’s contract with Summit County expires in 2006 however the County Commission will extend its relationship with the company for six months to allow time for new bidding.
Critics of Allied Waste, formerly BFI, have emerged since the company became the county’s exclusive residential and commercial waste hauler in 2000. With Allied Waste’s service contract expiring Dec. 31, commissioners were under no obligation to grant the extension to July 2007.
Suspicions about the company were triggered last fall when Allied Waste officials admitted that cardboard picked up from a recycling container at Kimball Junction was dumped in a landfill in eastern Summit County.
The incident prompted other critics to come forward in the media with allegations of improprieties committed by Allied Waste workers. The accusations involved other cases of recyclables being taken to the dump and blamed an Allied Waste driver for dumping a load of material collected in Wasatch County in Summit County’s Three Mile Landfill.
Though Allied Waste General Manager Rick Schultz admits, "we’ve done some things we probably should have done different," he claims the company has recycled more material than county officials expected.
"We’re not bad guys and we’re doing everything that we can to make sure that all waste streams are being taken to the appropriate place," Schultz said. "The issues are so small in comparison to what we’ve accomplished that everybody understands now that the allegations were not as huge as were made out to be."
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Since Allied Waste began picking up curbside recycling in western Summit County in 2000, the program has grown from 2,000 to more than 2,300 homes, Schultz said.
"I do not see any reason why we would not exceed 800 tons this next year," Schultz said. "The new households that are starting the program, along with higher volumes of recyclables that our current participants are placing in the bins, should achieve that number."
The volume of recyclables increased dramatically when Allied Waste switched from manual to automated pickup about four years ago, Schultz said, adding that larger bins placed at homes allowed drivers to collect more material.
"The automated system is the way to go," Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan said.
In 2003, a push for more recycling in the county caused a spike in participation in Allied Waste’s program, he said.
"Recycling is getting to the recyclery," Schultz said. "The tonnages are 300 percent greater than what was expected."
According to Schulz, Allied Waste also picks up more than 30 tons of recyclables each month at businesses in Summit County.
Also, Allied Waste hasn’t charged residents to replace lost or damaged bins, said Allied Waste Marketing Manager Gordon Raymond.
"By contract, we are allowed to charge the resident $75 to replace the carts," Raymond said. "In 2005 alone this amount was $3,900."
Meanwhile, the Summit County Solid Waste Advisory Committee will make a recommendation to the County Commission about what should be included in the upcoming bid request.
"There’s no rubber stamp for any contractor. It would be an open bid for anyone who wants to participate," Summit County Public Works Superintendent Mark Offret said. "They are going to make a lot of changes when they put [a request] out for a new contract."
The county could expand Public Works to become its own waste hauler, he said, adding, "there are definitely pros to that."
"Then it would be controlled by the commission, that way we could adjust things without renegotiating contracts," Offret said.
The new contract, expected to be for between five and seven years, could also allow business owners to choose their own hauler, Callahan recently told the Summit County Commission.