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.