City of Bellevue Releases Additional Information Regarding the New Solid Waste and Recycling Program

  • 10 January 2018
  • Author: Phil Davidson
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City of Bellevue Releases Additional Information Regarding the New Solid Waste and Recycling Program

The new contract approved by the City Council for solid waste collection and disposal, yard waste collection and processing, and recycling services for Bellevue residents beginning this spring was based on an analysis of the current method of providing those services, and following an extensive pilot program conducted over the last two years.  The contract was competitively bid and Papillion Sanitation was the lowest and best bidder submitting a proposal. 

These services, just like your water, gas and electric usage, are ones that should be paid based on user demand.

Your new bill, as included in the monthly Metropolitan Utilities District bill for water and sewer use, will be based on the size of the container you select. This will replace your current monthly trash fee billed, which is $13.42 a month.

Currently, and for the foreseeable future, all of our trash is taken 120 miles round trip to Butler County due to the closure of the Sarpy County Landfill.  That is a lot of daily hauling costs that adds to our costs for trash.  Conversely, recycling may be processed locally saving money--and resources.  Instead of treating all trash as waste, we are committing to the American way, making the recycling into a commodity. Our objective is to encourage recycling to save residents money. 

The service is equitably based upon usage--the more trash you have, the more you pay.  Recycle more and pay less. You have the choice. 

Residents in single family, duplex or tri-plex homes will be provided with separate, wheeled, lidded carts for weekly curbside collection of trash, recycling and yard waste.  The residents will be provided with high quality, wheeled City supplied carts for each type of waste, solid, yard, and recycling, if desired.  The resident is free to select any size cart for yard waste and recycling, as their pricing is only related to the selected size of solid waste cart. Residents can choose a 35-gallon waste cart size at $13.40 monthly pick-up charge, 65-gallon cart size for $16.44 a month, or a 95-gallon cart size for $18.99 a month.  There is NO additional fee for recycling or yard waste pick-up, and residents can select any size recycling or yard waste cart to best suit their needs.  Carts themselves are provided free, and replaced at no cost if lost, stolen, or damaged.

Historically we have subsidized all homes, regardless of size or amount of waste generated, through taking the total cost of solid waste management and applying it equally to all customers.  This change in scope of services will allow for a more direct reflection of cost, just like all other utilities, based on usage.  This will allow residents to control their solid waste costs, much like turning lights off or heat down to save on other utilities.

The City knew this impact was approaching and began proactively evaluating opportunities to stabilize these solid waste costs for residents as the current solid waste contract is due to expire in April 2018. These options included changes to the services offered to residents, opportunities to leverage advances in industry technology, competitive services pricing, and maximizing utilization of regional solid waste delivery and processing networks.

This change to the solid waste program will also include a faster curbside service for our residents via an automated truck arm that works in conjunction with the carts.  These carts are designed to contain litter and remain in place during servicing.  In our pilot program, all residents surveyed agreed that the carts and automated collection decreased litter in their neighborhood.

One of the primary highlights of this type of program can be found in the data we have received from our pilot program indicating a large shift in waste streams from solid waste to recycling.  Through increased recycling, we extend the useful life of our landfills and maximize our existing solid waste processing infrastructure to stabilize long-term pricing.  Land is not a renewable resource and has a high appreciation value in Sarpy County.  This makes the build out of new landfills, to handle increased capacity, not economical in the long-term forecast.

Iowa became a leader in the late 1980s when it passed legislation requiring counties and cities to reduce their landfilled solid waste by 50 percent. This type of program enjoyed increasing success in waste reduction across the United States, and it became clear to Iowa officials that the method offered a powerful tool in its effort to reach its ambitious goal. Therefore, in 1994, the Iowa General Assembly mandated that all communities implement a program like this if they were unable to meet a 25 percent reduction in landfilled solid waste.  By 2006, nearly 60 percent of Iowa’s residents were participating in programs such as this.   There are programs like this across the nation today, all benchmarked data points to a reduction in solid waste and an increase in recycling rates.

A total ten-year increase in generated waste tonnage of 19% has occurred in Bellevue, with a projected annual tonnage of over 25,000 tons by 2027.  This is an estimated $750,000.00 annually in processing costs alone, at today’s pricing.  If we do not look at cost control measures for processing costs through this program scope change, we will be missing a huge opportunity as these costs can account for up to 1/3 of the total annual cost for solid waste management.  To review all information about the program, or to select your cart sizes, visit www.yourcartplaysapart.com or call 402-346-7800.

 

Additional Common Questions and Answers

Fines for noncompliance – No fines are proposed for noncompliance with the new contract provisions.  If a cart has contaminated waste, or does not comply with accepted items deposited therein, the cart would be tagged with notation as to the noncompliance and no collection made that day.  The resident would have the opportunity to correct the noncompliance for pick up on the next collection date.

     

Maintain Status Quo – There were concerns in the 1990’s when the City Council was asked to consider the current system of solid waste collection and disposal, yard waste collection and processing and recycling services.  At that time, the City Council was reluctant to move forward with the recommendation of a citizen based solid waste task force for a one source service of the above.  Instead, they believed that citizens would contract privately with haulers for these services.  After a few weeks, trash barrels at city parks were filled with trash bags, vacant lots and ditches along roadways all full of illegally dumped trash – that was unacceptable and the City Council revisited the task force’s recommendation.

That decision has served the city well since enactment, however, with costs increasing, as indicated above, and best practices looking at other options, Bellevue conducted the very successful pilot program and undertook a competitive bidding process that leads to the services residents will see this spring. 

 

Put the services to a vote of the people – While it is absolutely true we live in a democracy where we are entitled to express our opinions, it is also a fact that ours is a system of representative democracy wherein we elect local citizens to serve as officials charged to make decisions in our behalf.  The review of the pilot program success and the development and bidding of the services by the City Council meets that threshold.  The City Council was clear in their review that the services should be a least costly alternative and allow for the citizens to choose the level of service that best meets their needs – the contract awarded to Papillion Sanitation accomplishes those goals. 

 

Why is Bellevue the only community going this route? – Bellevue is the first community in the area that is changing to the more efficient and cost-effective solution whereby the citizens control their costs for services.  Other nearby communities are looking at the Bellevue example as they deliberate similar service changes. 

Faced with rising solid waste disposal costs, the City of Bellevue wanted to ensure that it took a proactive approach when awarding their next contract. The City Council was clear in their review that the services should be a least costly alternative and allow for the citizens to choose the level of service that best meets their needs – the contract awarded to Papillion Sanitation accomplishes those goals. 

 

We are proud to be the first community in the area that is changing to the more efficient and cost- effective solution whereby the citizens control their costs for services.  Other nearby communities are looking at the Bellevue example as they deliberate similar service changes.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we initiate this change in the way we handle trash and recycling in Bellevue. 

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