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Elmhurst Patch Takes a Deeper Dive Into the City's Garbage Contract

Take two: This more detailed look at the city's garbage contract with Allied Waste is intended to clear up some of the many questions residents had this week.

Editor's Note: An article on Elmhurst Patch Dec. 17 about the city's new refuse and recycling contract with Allied Waste generated myriad questions and concerns among residents. This followup is intended to clarify the city's stated reasons for the new contract, as well as provide answers from city officials about when and how it will roll out to residents. Please leave any additional questions in the comments and we'll do our best to get them answered for you.

The city of Elmhurst's new contract with Allied Waste Services will mean changes for some residents, but those changes are expected to save homeowners money and encourage recycling, city officials say.

The new contract will only feature garbage toters with wheels in either a 65-gallon or 95-gallon size. It also will feature a new, larger 65-gallon recycling toter on wheels. Currently, the recycling containers provided by the city are about 20 gallons. Residents still will be allowed to put out a limitless amount of recycling material at no charge.

Reasons cited by city aldermen for going with this new program are to provide for a more efficient pickup process and to reduce on-the-job injuries. The 65- and 95-gallon toters are hoisted by lifts on the trucks, rather than by the manpower of Allied staff.

In a memo from the Public Works and Buildings Committee to the City Council, committee members said, "The refuse and recycling industry has been moving to all-toter disposal over the past decade or so. The use of toters provides for a more efficient pickup program and also reduces on-the-job injuries; both will help lower costs over time for refuse and recycling services for municipalities."

After studying bids from four companies, Allied Waste emerged as the low bidder for a three-day pickup cycle.

One company, Veolia, submitted a proposal for a four-day-per-week pickup schedule. Aldermen considered it because of a potential cost savings for those using the 95-gallon toters, but decided savings that would come from this contract would not be worth it.

At least one-quarter of homes would see a different collection day with Veolia. But the main reason for choosing Allied Waste's proposal over Veolia is that Allied is less expensive for the 65 gallon toter, Public Works Director Mike Hughes said.

Currently, 40 percent of residents use a 95-gallon can, but it is expected many of them will convert to a 65-gallon toter, according to the memo from the PWB Committee.

"Of the 95-gallon toter users, some have found the 95-gallon toter to be larger than they need and will likely convert to a 65-gallon toter," the memo reads. "It was estimated that half of the people currently using 95-gallon toters will convert to a 65-gallon toter."

This 80/20 scenario was used to determine and rank the five-year costs in the various contract proposals. Allied is not increasing its price for those who will convert from 33-gallon cans to the 65-gallon toters. "There will be zero economic impact to those residents who do not put out a lot of garbage," the memo states.

In the new contract, Allied's price for the 95-gallon toter is less than the current rate charged for the 95-gallon toter in the first year of the contract, but it will go up slightly in subsequent years of the contract.

"The increase in cost for the 95-gallon toter is incentive for residents to try to reduce their waste stream sufficiently to allow them to utilize a 65-gallon toter and thereby encourages recycling," the memo states.

The memo also lists other reasons for staying with Allied Waste, including continuing with a three-day pickup schedule, history of quality service at a reputable price, low risk to the city and Allied's history of providing cleanup of debris after major storms.

On Wednesday, Elmhurst officials put together a timeline for residents:

  • Allied Waste Services will mail out survey cards in early February, with responses due by mid-February, asking residents which size refuse container they would like, 65- or 95-gallon.
  • The new, 65-gallon recycling toters will be delivered in early March at no additional charge to residents, who may start using them upon receipt. The city asks that residents do not purchase new containers for recycling. They may keep their existing recycling containers and use them when necessary for overflow.
  • Garbage containers will be delivered in late March at no additional charge to residents.

The city also clarified reasons smaller cans will no longer be a part of the program. While there is such a thing as a 35-gallon toter, they are tall and "tip easily due to a narrow base," causing trash to potentially fall out and blow through the neighborhood. In addition:

  • Having just two choices will keep administration of the program simple and less expensive.
  • The 65-gallon container is more commonly used than smaller containers and costs the same as the 32-gallon can.
  • Some residents will save money by not having to purchase stickers for additional cans.

Refuse and yard waste stickers will continue to be available, at a cost of $2.40 apiece in 2013-14; by the end of the five-year contract, they will have gradually increased to $2.78. Stickers currently cost $2.25.

Mom3xs December 20, 2012 at 12:21 PM
As a previous commenter on the first article, I appreciate the follow-up article. Nice to know someone is listening! This article was much more informative -- thanks!
Doremus Jessup December 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM
So a 65 gallon garbage toter and 65 gallon recycling toter, sweet. I love talking trash.
Karen Chadra (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 01:54 PM
You're very welcome!
KD December 20, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Allied request that recycled items be divided into two containers, one for paper/cardboard and one for plastic, so will the community be receiving two 65 gallon toters?
mleekramer December 20, 2012 at 02:37 PM
So here is an interesting aside about this. They just did this in Bloomingdale where my mom lives. They love it but, when she asked if she should just put her blue recycle bins in the new recycle toter (she had 3) to get rid of them, she was told NO! They are not recycle and need to go in the garbage. She even called the village and her garbage service and was told the same thing. So we are getting new bins and potentially tossing plastic into the landfills. I myself have 4 recycle bins. I welcome the new toter, will make my life easier, but what about all my extra bins? Not going to store ALL of them forever.
Karen Chadra (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 02:47 PM
KD - Thanks for your question. I will collect any questions asked here, refer them to the city and let you know.
8675309 December 20, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Thank you for the follow-up, although all this information should have been gathered before and given to us in the first article. There was nothing said about the residents receiving recycle bins to begin with. Glad to hear about having a bigger recycle bin. Reply
Linda George December 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
How much is the 65 gal. container for garbage? What is the cost for the 95 gal. container?
Marie Strauch December 20, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Thanks very much for this informative article! This answered all my questions.
Someone Who Knows December 20, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Residents will receive one 65 gallon toter for recycling. ALL recycling (paper, plastics) will go into it, there will be no need to seperate the waste streams. I'm sure Karen will confirm this, but you can take it to the bank, or recycling center as the case may be,
CS December 20, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Thanks for the article! However, a few things still aren't clear: will residents who currently use (and are happy with) a smaller 32 gallon can be forced into a 65 gallon can? Can you clarify if two 65 gallon recycling containers will be required (to sort paper from plastic)? Can residents with limited garbage output still use their 20 gallon recycling cans instead? Thanks so much!
Karen Chadra (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Hi CS - Residents will no longer be able to use the smaller cans because they cannot be lifted by the lift mechanisms on the trucks. This is true for both garbage and recycling. Everyone using a smaller can now will be asked if they want a 65-gallon or a 95-gallon toter. Presumably, residents using the 32-gallon cans will request the 65-gallon toter. I believe only one recycling container will be needed for all recyclables, but I will get confirmation on that. The smaller recycling cans can be used only if you have a lot of recycling—more recycling than will fit in the 65-gallon toter—and you need it for overflow. Hope that helps!
Karen Chadra (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Hi Linda - You will pay nothing to have the toters, themselves, delivered to your home. If you currently use a 32-gallon can and opt for the 65-gallon toter, your cost for garbage collection will remain the same as it is now. No increase. If you currently use a 95-gallon toter and want to continue with that size, your cost will go down a little bit for the next two years, but then it will go up slightly in years 3, 4 and 5. Looks like the cost at the end of the 5-year contract for the big toters will be $21.37 per month (up from $18.45 in 2013-14). The city hopes this encourages people with large toters now to get the 65-gallon. Hope this helps.
Karen Chadra (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Just got confirmation that you can co-mingle all your recycling into one container. So that's good.
Laura December 20, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Ugh! We barely fill 1 32-gallon garbage can now. Not excited about cans now twice as big. I hope it does not encourage people to do yard waste in the bigger cans for free instead of the yard bags that allows for composting!
Jim Court December 21, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I have started a program that helps Veterans and the homeless achieve financial independence, not by a handout which oftentimes creates dependency and can be damaging to an individuals sense of self worth. Since your old garbage can will no longer be used I am hoping individuals will toss all aluminum cans in their old cans and these folks can pick them up. If anyone wants to volunteer I would be glad to talk with you. I will provide an e-mail address in the near future.
sarah December 21, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I agree! Thanks Patch!
J February 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Never had the allied refuse carts, now I have to pay additional fees, $15 to $20 more a month to have my garbage pick up and throw out my newer garbage can, ridiculous Elmhurst ! Its time to get out of dodge.
Jim Court July 27, 2013 at 10:37 AM
I have to wonder how the refuse companies can truly separate all of the recycling materials legitimately? Small pieces of plastic, glass bottles with metal caps, inappropriate materials thrown in by the unconcerned. Logistically it seems almost impossible. This often makes me wonder if true recycling takes place. I don't want to sound like a skeptic so if anybody who works for the garbage company wishes to weigh in and tell me exactly what takes place I would be interested in hearing from you.

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