By Ralph Echtinaw
Goodbye Republic. Hello Granger.
Alma and St. Louis jointly awarded the next five-year trash hauling contract to Granger Waste Services of Lansing after bids were opened last week.
The new deal takes effect May 1.
Granger will replace Republic, which has picked up trash in the twin cities for the last five years.
Homeowners will notice a big change, as the contract calls for using 96-gallon wheeled bins (known as “carts” in the industry); one for trash and one for recyclables. The advantage of carts is that they can be picked up by the collection truck. Thus operators needn’t leave the truck and physically throw trash into a bin. The cost of the carts will be borne by Granger.
Trash will be picked up weekly and recyclables every other week. One large item per week per customer will be picked up as well.
A solid waste committee (City Manager Kurt Giles, Mayor Tom Reed, Alma interim City Manager Aeric Ripley and Alma City Commissioner Nick Piccolo) considered going without recycling all together, and the offer from Republic was lowest among those bids. However, a survey of residents showed that homeowners want to keep curbside recycling.
According to the survey, 82 of respondents gave a rating of “4” (on a scale of 1-4) on the importance of their ability to recycle household materials. Just 40 percent of respondents said they would find another way to recycle if curbside recycling is discontinued. Some 73 percent of respondents said monthly recyclables pickup would be adequate using a 96-gallon curbside cart.
Although recycling is preferred by a majority of homeowners who responded to the survey, the value of recycling is less than it used to be.
The solid waste committee heard haulers say that glass and plastic in recycle bins are generally landfilled, as the demand for those materials is insufficient to make recycling profitable.
“The value of recyclable material is not paying its own way,” Giles said last October. “Some things that get shipped overseas for next use sometimes get shipped back here, we’re told, to be landfilled. That’s not beneficial at all to haul it both ways.”
Homeowners can opt out of recyclables pickup if they like the convenience of putting everything in a single cart or don’t want to make room for a second cart. The city will give you that opportunity sometime before May 1.
Will homeowners pay more?
Giles said it’s too soon to say if the city’s monthly charge for residential trash pickup will rise with the new contract. “We’ll review all solid waste charges for the upcoming budget year and make a recommendation for adjustment,” he said via email.
The current charge of $29.67 covers curbside trash and recycling pickup, leaf pickup in the fall and yard waste pickup.
Rising fuel prices will probably be part of the cities’ review of solid waste charges, thanks to a provision of Granger’s contract calling for price increases on residential curbside pickup when the cost of diesel fuel rises. Attachment 1 of Granger’s bid says: “Contractor reserves the right to petition the cities for increases in price due to government taxes, fee, surcharges, fuel costs, etc.” It goes on to say Granger will charge more if the price of diesel fuel exceeds $4/gallon for three consecutive months. “Pricing shall increase 1 cent for each 4-cent increase in diesel fuel above $4/gallon.”
Granger will charge $10 per customer per month for trash pickup and $1.15 for bi-weekly recyclables pickup. Those charges increase by 22 percent over five years and top out at $12.16 and $1.40.
In addition to curbside pickup, Granger will empty 22 rubbish bins at various locations in the twin cities. Prices are guaranteed to rise 22 percent over five years The range is given below:
Alma Public Library: $66 to 81.44
Hampton Apartments: $430 to $522.66
Alma Senior Housing: $47 to $57.13
24 downtown Alma trash cans: $240 to 291.71
Alma Airport: $67 to 81.44
Alma City Hall: $67 to 81.44
Alma Public Works: $134 to $162.88
Alma Parks/Cemetery: $174 to $211.50
Alma City Hall recycling: $3.45 to $4.19
Alma Public Library recycling: $2.30 to $2.80
Alma Public Works recycling: $2.30 to $2.80
St. Louis City Hall recycling: $2.30 to $2.80
St. Louis Cutler Library recycling: $1.15 to $1.40
St. Louis Electric Dept. (412 N. Mill): $87 to 105.75
St. Louis DPW: $67 to 81.44
River Ridge apartment complex: $215 to $261.33
Oakridge apartment complex: $389 to 472.83
St. Louis City Hall: $67 to 81.44
St. Louis Cutler Library: $67 to 81.44
St. Louis Electric Dept. (701 Woodside): $67 to 81.44
St. Louis wastewater treatment plant: $134 to $162.88
Emptying the bins in St. Louis will cost the city $1,096.45/month in the contract’s first year.
Check out the Granger web site here. If you scroll to bottom of page you can register to receive alerts when trash pickup will be late.
Also bidding on the contract were Republic and GFL Environmental.
Republic was cheaper than Granger on trash-hauling alone at $9.27 per customer per month but wanted another $6.08 for bi-weekly recyclables pickup.
GFL Environmental wanted $14.19 per month per customer for trash pickup with no extra charge to pick up recyclables.