Oregon likely to see `big changes' in refuse/recycling

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon is considering options on its waste/recycling contract with Waste Management, which is up for renewal this fall.
        The administration met with Waste Management in June to discuss its contract, according to Public Service Director Paul Roman at a recent council meeting.
        “At one point, we thought we could renew our contract,” he said. “But the more we looked at the cost, we feel we should really go out to bid.”
        The city met with both Waste Management and Republic in looking at bid specifications with hopes to put out a set of bids soon. There is a wide range of options the city wanted to look at. Those include a bid without recycling, a bid for unlimited refuse collection in large cans with recycling, and a bid for limited refuse collection without recycling, according to Roman.
        “Let’s see the prices that we get. It will be interesting,” he said. “We have a long laundry list of things in which we’re asking about costs. We’ll see where it comes in at.”
National issue
        Oregon Council President Dennis Walendzak said as the city moves forward with trash and recycling, there might be a need to reeducate the public on the proper way to recycle and what items are accepted for recycling.
        The increased cost of recycling is a national issue, said Roman. “It’s going sky high.”
        Last year, Oregon, like other communities across the country, learned that China will no longer be accepting recycling materials from the U.S. due to contamination. Oregon has been reviewing its options ever since. The city has just a couple of months left of a five year contract with Waste Management to provide unlimited garbage pickup. There is a separate cost for the recycling program.
        Waste Management told Roman that even if they bid recycling, they would bid at a variable rate knowing it could easily skyrocket in price.
        “The market drives the recycling,” said Councilman James Seaman. “Certain things like newspapers we used to be able to send to China and get some money, but now they don’t need it or want it. Some of the plastics have diminished, too, in terms of their worth. Residents have to understand that we won’t be able to continue in the same manner, possibly, as we currently are because it’s not cost effective.” It ends up in a landfill anyway. We have to educate the public on that.”
        Mayor Mike Seferian said the city would have to provide the public with a lot of updating,
        “It is unlikely that the city would be able to sustain unlimited pickup.  They probably won’t even offer it. So we need to get used to educating all of ourselves as well as the public because we won’t find a provider that would even offer that service. I doubt whether we will be able to continue any sort of recycling at this time. We’ll have to play that year to year.  So we have a lot of work to do. At this time, we have very few things available to us.”
        Councilman Terry Reeves said he believed Toledo uses Republic with bulk pickup once per month with its service.
        Roman said bulk pickup would still be available. The public could still put yard waste in the provided containers. If residents wanted a second container, it could be rented from the service provider. He said he wanted to see cost incentives on the bids and was interested in possibly adding a seasonal pickup. Part of the bid would include an option to take waste directly to the landfill and offer reduced rates on renting dumpsters. He said he would like to see the city offer a spring and fall seasonal pickup for branches. He added this would all be part of the education once bids are received and reviewed.
        “It’s definitely going to be a big change from what we have now,” said Seferian.”We’re going to do whatever we can to make the best of it and get as much garbage service as we can possibly get.”
        Councilwoman Sandy Bihn asked Roman which communities in the area receive unlimited refuse pickup.
        Roman said he thought Lake Township currently has unlimited pickup, adding it as very rare. He said unlimited pickup could be set up depending on how the bids come in.


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