Companies’ dispute over landfill gig raising a stink 

A dispute over The City’s lucrative garbage business has two waste-hauling companies trash-talking. Recology is on the brink of winning a 10-year contract from The City to dispose of the waste in the rubbish-company’s landfill 130 miles away in Yuba County.

The proposed 10-year landfill contract, to go into effect in 2015, is worth about $112 million, according to Harvey Rose, the Board of Supervisors budget analyst. With so much money at stake, it’s no wonder that Waste Management, the company that operates the Altamont landfill where The City’s trash is currently disposed, is crying foul.

Waste Management has objected to the bidding process and is asking The City for a redo, according to Waste Management spokeswoman Karen Stern. The company has not ruled out legal action.

Waste Management has called into question the rates promised by Recology and alleged there has been a flawed analysis of the environmental impacts of hauling waste farther away. The company also alleges the bid criteria was modified, and without notifying other bidders, to favor Recology.

“This is highly irregular,” Stern said. “It truly is.”

Recology spokesman Adam Alberti said the bidding process was “open, thorough and fair.”

On Wednesday, the three-member Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on the contract.

“I’m looking at information from both Recology and Waste Management,” said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, a member of the Budget and Finance Committee. “The assertions are flying.”

If Recology gets the landfill contract, it will have a virtual monopoly over The City’s trash. The company has long hauled San Francisco’s garbage, and with this contract it will also own the landfill where the waste is dumped. It also runs The City’s recycling program.

Officials from the Department of the Environment, which oversees the city’s waste operations, have praised the proposed deal. Mark Westlund, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment, said the deal with Recology will be a better for ratepayers than they would have gotten from competing bidders.

“The Recology landfill contract will save ratepayers $130 million over the life of the contract,” Westlund said.

Nonetheless, ratepayers will see their trash bills go up, according to a report by Harvey Rose. The contract with Recology would increase garbage rates by 3 percent in the first year. A single-family residence with a 32-gallon waste container would increase by 82 cents from $27.55 to $28.37, and the monthly rates paid by a business for the collection of two cubic yards of waste would increase by $14.82, from $494.01 to $508.83.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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