Sustainability Board’s recommendations for 2015 waste contract

Monday, September 15

Editor’s Note:  The town’s Sustainability Advisory Board members reviewed waste disposal bidders, weighing the cost-benefits of the once-per-week pickup versus twice-per-week and of dual-stream versus single-stream recyclying.  Below are their conclusions.

New Castle Sustainability Advisory Board

July 10, 2014
Re: New Waste Disposal Contract Beginning 2015

The New Castle Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) has reviewed and analyzed the proposals from the three waste disposal bidders. We compared the specific dollar amounts for the various options and the written portions of each proposal. We analyzed the full proposals with the goal of recommending the company that provided the best balance of customer service and price. On both objectives, for all overall options provided in the proposals, Sani-Pro Disposal Services Corp.’s (Sani-Pro) net fees were lower than those of competing bids. Reports from New Castle’s Department of Public Works (DPW) have confirmed that Sani-Pro has provided very good service over the length of the previous contract. Assuming that any necessary background check managed by the DPW on Sani-Pro confirms that they meet all requirements specified in the RFP, we believe that Sani-Pro will continue to provide the level of service New Castle is accustomed to and requires.

The New Castle Sustainability Advisory Board recommends that the waste contract beginning in 2015 be awarded to Sani-Pro Disposal Services Corp.

The SAB also reviewed and analyzed the various options, including all combinations of one or two pickups per week and dual stream or single stream recycling. Our goal was to select the options that provided the best balance of customer service, price, environmental, and social benefits. In addition, the SAB reviewed an automated pickup option.

Automated vs. Manual Pickup

The cost of automated pickup is significantly higher than manual pickup and the New Castle DPW has reported no advantage for automated pickup.

The SAB recommends manual pickup.

Once-a-week vs. Twice-a-week Pickup

The SAB considered once-a-week pickup vs. twice-a-week pickup. The advantage to twice-a-week is obvious. For those households who fill their waste cans quickly enough during the week to require an extra pickup, this option is helpful. However, it appears that there are relatively few households that require twice-a-week pickup. In fact, currently, normal, once-a-week curbside pickup is provided to over 4,860 households. Only approximately 700 households (13%) contract for in-driveway/backdoor pickup, which offers twice-a-week service. It is likely that the majority of these households only require once-a-week service but contract for this service because they prefer or require pickup closer to their homes. In addition, the New Castle DPW has reported that when the Town had twice-a-week pickup, the majority of the waste (64%) was collected on the first day, leaving a smaller amount (36%) for the second pickup day.

The cost to the Town of providing twice-a-week service, which is desired by a minority of households, would be significant. The incremental costs of twice-a-week instead of once-a-week include:

• $73,260 – $133,200 annually, based on selecting single stream or dual stream recycling, respectively.
• $64,722 for at least one and possibly two years. In 2013 New York State granted money to New Castle upon switching from twice-a-week to once-a-week pickup. The Town would lose the grant if it switched back to twice-a-week pickup.
• Street repair expenses, which will rise due to additional wear and tear on Town streets from increased heavy truck miles.
• A possible reduction in recycling which will cost the Town over $70/ton.
• Environmental costs for increased CO2 and possibly additional garbage. The environmental costs include an incremental 9,500 gallons of diesel fuel creating 96.4 metric tons of CO2 annually, potentially reduced recycling which creates additional garbage, and CO2 from street repair. These environmental costs create a financial burden that will be assumed by all residents.
• Social costs to residents which include the noise and traffic burdens associated with having large garbage trucks working their way through Town streets an additional day for each household.

Maintaining once-a-week pickup over the seven-year length of the contract will save New Castle at least an incremental $577,000.  Environmentally it will send a message to our residents and to fellow Sustainable Westchester and Climate Smart Communities that New Castle cares about the 675 metric tons of CO2 that we do not need to emit and should not emit into our atmosphere.

It should be noted that the few residents who prefer twice-a-week pickup can pay an additional fee and will be provided with two pickups per week.

Finally, Sani-Pro’s fees for in-driveway/backdoor pickup are increasing from $32/$47 per month to $50/$67 per month. It is our understanding that these fees better reflect the actual costs for providing this service. However, the Town may want to consider whether these increased fees place undo hardship on certain residents and address those concerns accordingly.

The SAB recommends continuing with once-a-week service.

Dual Stream vs. Single Stream Recycling

The SAB analyzed the cost proposals for dual stream recycling (the Town’s current operation) and single stream recycling. Dual stream allows the Town to sell its paper and old corrugated cardboard, generating over $70,000 per year (2014 forecast). Currently the Town would not be paid for single stream recycling where paper products are comingled with other recycling. However, as a result of a reduced service cost, by changing to single stream the Town will save over $7,000 annually (forecast) even after eliminating the revenue from paper and cardboard. Finally, paper prices can fluctuate and there is the possibility that the price currently being offered for paper will be reduced significantly in the future, as happened in 2008-2009 when no revenue was generated from paper.

The SAB researched and analyzed the environmental implications of converting to single stream from dual stream. While data exists that shows that in some cases single stream may cause more contamination to paper and therefore require diverting a portion of it to a normal waste stream (rather than recycling), generally this has been attributed to lower-quality recycling technology. New Castle DPW has reassured the SAB that the recycling plant where the Town’s recycling will be sorted (ReCommunity in Beacon, NY) has very high-end, modern equipment. Additionally, some towns have realized an increase in waste diverted to recycling by residents that they have attributed to changing from dual stream to the simpler single stream. If this occurred in New Castle, it would have a positive environmental and financial impact.

If the Town elects to convert to single stream recycling, we should consider facilitating and enhancing the change by helping provide residents with 48-gallon pails (toters) on wheels. Sani-Pro has offered to sell these toters for a discounted price if purchased at scale. The advantages of providing these toters include: easy collection of recyclables in a single pail by residents, much easier transport of recyclables to the curbside, reduction of recyclables littering streets due to heavy winds on garbage days, eliminating the need for plastic bags to hold recyclables (preferred by the recycling facility) and potentially increased recycling resulting from ease-of-use – which would benefit the town environmentally and financially.

The SAB recommends changing to single stream recycling.

The SAB would like to thank Public Works Commissioner Gerry Moerschell and Assistant Bart Carey for their highly professional and extensive help in finding necessary data, responding to questions, and running the RFP process. Their assistance enabled the SAB to complete our work in a thorough and timely manner.

This letter is based on proposal data provided by, and representations made by, the New Castle Department of Public Works. The opinions stated in this letter relate only to the 2015 New Castle Waste Contract.

Steven Wolk
New Castle Sustainability Advisory Board

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