St. Joseph County recycling contract awarded

Get ready to kiss your bin goodbye under the terms of St. Joseph County’s new curbside recycling contract.

The program stands poised to upsize the containers that residents use to bring their recycled materials to the curb.

A new 10-year contract for curbside pickup was awarded on Monday to Borden Waste Away.

It calls for replacing the 18-gallon, open top curbside recycling bins that have been used for the past ten years, with 64-gallon, wheeled totes.

“I think it’s more an opportunity to do more with technology,” said Ken Himes with Borden. “It doesn't take more time or more labor to service the carts.”

While the cost of pickup may be the same, the wheeled carts can hold three times as much material. The switch is expected to result in a dramatic increase in the total amount of recycled materials collected—and sold.

“It does seem like, to some extent, it might be too good to be true,” said St. Joseph County Commissioner Mark Dobson, who serves on the Solid Waste Management District Board that oversees the recycling program.

Dobson voted “no” on the contract award. “We let the vendor tell us how much more,” he said of the bidding process.

“One (bidder) said we'll gain 50-percent, one said we'll gain 60-percent, we should have evaluated it based on one set criteria and worked through the numbers,” Dobson said.

Dobson wasn’t the only board member who felt there was too much guesswork involved in determining the lowest bid.

“My "no" vote today is that the process could have been cleaner,” said St. Joseph County Commissioner and Solid Waste Management District Board member Robert Kovach: “We could have had a more uniform set of numbers to determine volume.”

In the end, the numbers were there on the board to award the bid to Borden.

“I feel good about it,” said South Bend Mayor and Solid Waste Management District Board member Stephen Luecke: “I think it’s keeping the price down for recycling, encouraging more recycling, and hopefully making it easier for residents to do that.”

The wheeled carts are scheduled to be in use about the time skis might make more sense: January 1st, 2009.

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