Issaquah could dump Waste Management for CleanScapes, despite questions
October 12, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 12, 2011
The discussion about the next contract to collect Issaquah garbage turned messy Tuesday, as a rival company interested in the deal criticized the process and urged elected officials to scrutinize the top contender.
The city is seeking a garbage hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods. Waste Management is the predominant hauler in the city, but the current contract between Issaquah and the Houston-based company expires in June.
Seattle-based CleanScapes emerged as the No. 1 contender after city officials evaluated offers from both companies and another collector, Allied Waste — a local name for national company Republic Services.
City officials said a $3.8-million-per-year CleanScapes contract could mean lower rates for Issaquah customers, plus increased customer service and recycling options. City Council members should decide on the contract before the end of the month.
If the CleanScapes contract is approved, a residential customer putting a 32-gallon cart out for weekly curbside pickup could see rates decrease from $13.43 to $12.74 — a 5.1 percent drop.
The other companies interested in the contract, however, claimed city officials discounted factors such as price and less possible impact on the environment. The planned merger between CleanScapes and San Francisco-based Recology also came up during the discussion.
“Our focus in this process is to provide the lowest-priced option for the businesses and for the residents of Issaquah,” Jeffry Borgida, Allied Waste general manager for Issaquah and other Eastside communities, told Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee members Tuesday. “In the current economic times, in the current economic conditions, it is our position that that was the most important factor in this process. Generally speaking, we all basically do the same things. Some of us may have some different bells and whistles that we can talk about and highlight.”
The contract covers most Issaquah neighborhoods. Allied Waste hauls garbage in the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods under a separate contract. If officials selected Allied Waste instead, the company planned to unite the city under a single contract.
Allied Waste offered the lowest price — $3.5 million per year — although city evaluators dinged the company on customer service, sustainability and other criteria.
Waste Management rolled out a $3.9-million-per-year package and proposed creating a local facility as a place to park garbage trucks — a plan to reduce vehicle miles traveled and emissions.
The city formed a five-member review panel to study proposals. The team included Resource Conservation Office Manager David Fujimoto, Bret Heath, city public works operations and emergency management director, and other officials.
In addition to sifting through the bulging documents submitted by the garbage haulers, evaluators interviewed representatives from the candidates, conducted reference checks among client cities, and toured the companies’ local customer service centers, operations yards and recycling facilities.
Then, the evaluators ranked the companies in several areas, such as contract compliance, customer service and sustainability.
“All of those things were folded into the evaluation process that was conducted by the review committee,” Fujimoto said. “Based on that information, the review committee members each scored each of the proposals separately.”
Mary Evans, Waste Management director of public sector services, questioned the selection process.
“There certainly has been a lot of process around this decision-making,” she told committee members. “The amount of transparency around that process is something that’s open to interpretation.”
The conservation office asked companies to submit prices in documents separate from the rest of the packages.
Candidates could receive up to 60 points for price and up to 40 points combined for all other factors.
CleanScapes received the highest total score — 93.1 out of the possible 100 points. Waste Management followed at 87.9 and Allied Waste received 83.5, despite receiving the maximum score for price.
“If you look at the final total score, there is a difference in the total tally of numbers, but if you go back and look at the scoring in individual categories, you’ll see that it’s quite close,” Fujimoto said. “There are a number of areas where, in particular, Waste Management and CleanScapes were very close.”
CleanScapes CEO Chris Martin addressed the Recology merger in remarks to the committee — Council President John Traeger, and councilmen Mark Mullet and Joshua Schaer.
“CleanScapes is staying CleanScapes,” Martin said. “We will be a part of the Recology company, but we will maintain our name and our whole management team will be staying in place.”
The company received points for evaluators for proposals to offer bear-resistant garbage containers to customers, additional curbside recycling options — for items such as plastic bags and small appliances — and a retail storefront in Issaquah.
Martin envisioned the storefront as “the Apple store for recycling and garbage, where people will be able to come in” for customer service and to drop off difficult-to-recycle items.
The proposal from CleanScapes also included a customer-service hotline available seven days a week and a designated customer-service line for Issaquah customers.
Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee members applauded the selection process.
“At the end of the day, I have a hard time second-guessing the process, because I feel like it was just well thought out and well done,” Mullet said.