Residential recycling contract talks begin in Naperville
Larger recycling carts and a goal of diverting more waste from landfills likely are on the horizon for Naperville, but city council members first want to discuss the best way to contract for recycling pickup services.
Talks began Tuesday, when Public Works Director Dick Dublinski presented a proposal to extend the city's recycling contract with Resource Management until 2021 and to begin using large, covered recycling carts instead of smaller bins or cans.
The proposal would bring 95-gallon carts to residents by next March or April and freeze the single-family pickup rate at $2.43 a week, although an additional $4 a month would be charged for one year to pay for the new carts.
Dublinski said 64 percent of people who responded to a resident survey last August said they want carts for their recycling, and 81 percent said it's important the city provide opportunities to increase recycling.
He said research shows the larger the recycling container, the more people recycle. So offering primarily 95-gallon carts with a 65-gallon size available as an option should increase the amount of waste sent to recycling centers.
Naperville recycles 30 percent of things residents throw out, but Dublinski said the aim is to increase that to 40 percent -- an additional 11 million pounds a year.
Councilman Doug Krause said extending Resource Management's contract would allow the company to switch to vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, which produces less greenhouse gas emissions. Using covered carts would make for more efficient pickup, he said, and less trash blowing around neighborhoods.
Councilman Steve Chirico said he fully supports a move to recycling carts and the goal of diverting 40 percent of Naperville's residential waste from landfills, but he has "lots of problems" with the proposal presented by the public works department.
Specifically, Chirico said the city should seek bids from multiple haulers instead of automatically seeking to extend the current vendor's contract. The deal with Resource Management is set to expire April 30, 2016.
"This is one of the larger contracts we have. It's an important one -- it affects every resident in the city," Chirico said about the recycling pickup contract for 40,790 residences. "The current company has done a good job and it sounds like they're giving a good price. I don't see what harm it has in going out and bidding it again. We have nothing to lose."
But City Manager Doug Krieger said Chirico may be overlooking the possibility of Resource Management increasing its prices during the bidding process.
"If I believed bids would result in a lower price than what is included, we would absolutely bid it," Krieger said. "When you say there is no risk associated with bidding, I would respectfully disagree ... There's no way of knowing whether they would increase their bid or not."
Naperville is the only community for which Resource Management provides curbside recycling pickup, said Beth Lang, strategic services manager in Naperville's public works department. Several other haulers deposit the recyclable materials they pick up at Resource Management's depot in Plainfield, so dealing directly with the company that owns the depot helps Naperville save money, she said.
"I understand Resource Management is the end destination for a lot of recycling," Councilman David Wentz said. "But is there really that much risk by putting it to bid? Maybe we should do it just because it's fiscally responsible."
Councilman Judy Brodhead also said she favors seeking bids, and some councilmen said combining residential recycling and garbage pickup into one contract should be explored.
Krieger said a past attempt at creating a combined garbage and recycling contract did not result in lower prices.
The council will continue discussions on residential recycling pickup at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, in the municipal center, 400 S. Eagle St.