City could choose CleanScapes for garbage contract, dump Waste Management

October 18, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Officials seek hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods

CleanScapes nudged out larger competitors and emerged as the No. 1 contender to haul Issaquah garbage due, in part, to offering curbside pickup for difficult-to-recycle items, such as batteries and light bulbs.

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 came out as the top candidate 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. The contract requires City Council approval.

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.

CleanScapes also received points from evaluators for plans to offer bear-resistant garbage containers to customers, additional curbside recycling options and a retail storefront in Issaquah.

King County Council increases garbage rates

The cost for garbage pickup in Issaquah and elsewhere in King County is due to increase by about 80 cents per month next year.

King County Council members approved the rate increase last month as part of a long-term effort to upgrade the regional solid waste system.

Under the updated rate structure, the basic rate for commercial vehicles, such as garbage trucks, to dump trash at county facilities is $109 per ton. The current rate is $95 per ton.

Haulers pass along the rate increase to customers. So, the average customer putting out a single can for pickup can expect to pay about 80 cents more per month next year, although the exact increase depends on how haulers pass on the rate hike to consumers.

For people hauling loads to county transfer stations, the rate is due to increase to $17.49 per load from $15.31 per load.

Officials said proceeds from the fees should defray the costs to upgrade transfer stations, including the Factoria Transfer Station, the midpoint destination for Issaquah garbage. Construction is due to start on a $77 million facility near the existing station in 2013.

The county Solid Waste Division serves haulers from Issaquah and 36 other cities. Allied Waste and Waste Management handle garbage collection inside Issaquah city limits; Allied Waste serves unincorporated-area residents.

The county operates Cedar Hills Regional Landfill — the destination for garbage from across King County — on 920 acres between Issaquah and Maple Valley.

CleanScapes CEO Chris 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. Though CleanScapes plans to expand curbside recycling, some items must be dropped off at the storefront.

The proposal from CleanScapes also included a customer-service hotline and a designated customer-service line for Issaquah customers.

CleanScapes serves customers in Seattle, Shoreline, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

The discussion about the contract turned messy Oct. 11, as a rival company interested in the deal criticized the process and urged elected officials to scrutinize CleanScapes.

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. “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.”

Allied Waste hauls garbage in the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods under a separate contract. If officials chose Allied Waste instead, the company planned to unite the city under a single contract.

Questions arise about selection

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.

Martin addressed the Recology merger in remarks to committee members — 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 city formed a five-member review panel to study garbage haulers’ proposals. The team included Resource Conservation Office Manager David Fujimoto, city Public Works Operations and Emergency Management Director Bret Heath, and other officials.

In addition to sifting through the bulging documents submitted by the companies, 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 earning 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.”

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.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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