While Saline has joined a coalition of communities working toward long-term recycling efficiencies and improvements, there are pressing short-term considerations, too.
The City of Saline has begun contract negotiations with Waste Management for recycling, trash and other waste hauling services. The current deal between the city and waste hauler calls expires at the end of June. Jeff Fordice, Director of the Department of Public Works, and Brian Conway, public sector solutions employee for Waste Management, outlined a possible five-year contract extension at Monday’s Saline City Council work meeting.
“We were looking for a deal that does two things. One, we want to address some of the things our residents have told us they want. Two, we need to address some of the realities of the market,” Fordice told council.
It appears that Fordice and Conway have made great progress on a deal. They outlined several potential changes to service. The proposed contact includes:
- No more trash or garbage can pick up. Waste Management is moving to an automated pickup system to reduce employee injuries caused by repetitive lifting. Instead, all residents will be required to take trash carts. The carts, provided by the company, will come in three sizes – 96, 64 or 35 gallons.
- Two extra weeks of yard waste collection, 37 weeks between April through the second week of December.
- Recycling continues every other week.
- Elimination of the battery recycling at city hall. That will have to through another provider.
- Brush collection would still take place – with a call in advance. Branches should be four to six feet long, no more than six inches in diameter. Tied and bundled, no more than 18 inches in diameter.
- Bulk collection would still take place, but residents must call in advance. There is a limit of one bulk item per week.
- The recycle bins at city hall would be replaced with a 30-yard sectional recycling container.
- Waste Management is also converting from diesel vehicles to natural gas-fueled automated sideload trucks.
Council seemed to go along with most of the proposals.
Councillor Janet Dillon said she wasn’t in favor of the new big recycling container planned for city hall. Dillon said residents are well served by curbside program and said the city hall recycling container would be used by people who aren’t city residents. Mayor Marl agreed the 30-yard dumpster, which quadruples the city hall recycling capacity, might be excessive. But Marl said he knows that some city residents use the container because they don’t have room for the carts. Marl said he’s used the city hall containers at the holidays when recyclables pile up.
Dillon also questioned whether residents would accept the new trash cans.
Fordice said there was push back when the city required residents to use the recycling carts. But, he said, 97 percent of the city’s households use the carts. He said he was confident people will use the new carts.
One question by Councillor Jack Ceo wasn’t sufficiently answered. If trash will only be hauled away if it’s in a card, what happens when people have excess trash, like when cleaning while moving? Neither Conway or Fordice had an answer for this question.
Councillor Linda TerHaar and Mayor Brian Marl both emphasized the city’s need to ensure it finds a replacement for the popular battery recycling at the city hall.
In terms of cost – it’s rising. Council is being presented with two options.
Waste Management currently charges the city $15.93 per unit. That number includes the recycling processing charge. It would jump to $16.35 next year and rise up to $19.13 in year five.
In option two, Waste Management reduces it’s price to $14.50 per unit in year one. But the city would be required to pay the recycling processing fee. That fee has been volatile over the last 12 months. It amounts to about $1.90 per unit, today.
Should the processing fee fall, the city could see savings if they go with option. On the other hand, it could leave the city stuck with a higher bill if processing fees rise.
TerHaar asked if the city could save money if city residents “cleaned” their recycling streams of contaminating items. Conway said it’s unlikely, unless all of the communities submitting to the same material recovery facility cleaned their streams, too.
The second option could also provide the city with some flexibility if the regional recycling authority were to launch its own material recovery facility during the contract.
Marl said the matter will appear on the city council agenda as a discussion item April 1, when Marl will be looking for consensus.