OUR OPINION: Recycling’s profile rises in waste talks

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s city government evaluation of its trash pick-up and recycling programs continues toward a new contract for those services this summer. A new contract could include expanded recycling of residential waste – and strong encouragement for all clients to use the practice.
The City Council, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and Chief Operating Officer Darrell Smith will continue discussions about what’s affordable and best for the city as the July expiration of the current contract with Waste Management approaches. The contract has been in place since 2007, and the council has under consideration two proposals. One is from Waste Management, an international firm headquartered in Texas, and another firm, Waste Pro, headquartered in Longwood, Fla.
Action on a new contract is expected in June, and changes seem likely for frequency and category.
Under the existing contract, Waste Management is paid $13.53 monthly for each residential unit, but the city charges $15.97 to each bill payer per month. The standard bill is paid by approximately 13,400 households, including the newly annexed area. In addition, every apartment complex with more than four units requires a payment of $15.97 per renter for collection by a front-end loader. Approximately 128 apartment complexes fall under that category. The revenue above the contract price to Waste Management is used to pay for “sanitation” fund pick-ups – items that are left curbside that are larger than the 96-gallon containers used for regular garbage. Smith said the goal is to break even.
The city also pays $22 per ton of garbage taken to the Three Rivers Regional Landfill in Pontotoc County. If more waste is recycled, the fees paid to the landfill could diminish.
Smith said he believes it’s possible to offer residents more recycling with 96-gallon containers, with the option to instead use the existing smaller recycling containers. A second large container, he said, is problematic for some residents because of storage space.
Smith said special work sessions on the contract should be anticipated and that he will make a recommendation to the council based on his evaluations of performance on existing contracts by bidders. Smith said consideration also will be given to the quality of contracts seen in the extra services covered for things like special events.
Every waste hauling/recycling contract is complex. The city needs good options, both affordable and environmentally responsible. Every household has a stake.