New garbage hauler in area

New garbage hauler in South County?

Starting Jan. 1, South County residents will have a new garbage
hauler for the first time in more than 50 years.
Starting Jan. 1, South County residents will have a new garbage hauler for the first time in more than 50 years.

GreenWaste Recovery was hired as the new garbage and recycling curbside pickup service for about 4,000 households in unincorporated areas surrounding Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy.

The new contract will provide more garbage-related services at a lower price than a similar proposal offered by the current contractor, South Valley Disposal and Recycling, according to a staff report presented at the Sept. 29 Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting. South Valley President Phil Couchee has not yet quantified the amount of money his company will lose as a result of the county’s decision but said layoffs are likely. Rate increases for remaining customers are not likely, he said.

Supervisor Don Gage, who represents the South County district on the board, said he voted in favor of the staff-recommended GreenWaste proposal for one simple reason – it cost less to the consumer.

“(Residents) should get things cheaper if they can,” Gage said.

The monthly rates that GreenWaste proposed were about 20 percent lower than those proposed by South Valley Disposal, according to Lisa Rose, a senior management analyst in the county’s Integrated Waste Management division.

In February, county staff initially recommended a contract with GreenWaste that offered fewer services than what South Valley Disposal currently provides. But after an uproar from local residents who felt the county was leaning toward a contract that didn’t fulfill their needs, staff revisited the issue.

They convened a focus group of area citizens to define the desired services, re-bid the contract based on the new criteria, and extended the current contract, which was set to expire Sept. 30.

When South Valley’s and GreenWaste’s new proposals came back to the county’s Integrated Waste Management division, staff still felt GreenWaste offered a better proposal with more services and at a better cost to residents, according to Greg Van Wassenhove, director of the county’s Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management.

Starting Jan. 1, the monthly rate for residential weekly garbage pickup for a 32-gallon container, plus twice-a-month collection of recyclable trash, will rise to $24.05 per month. The agreement approved Sept. 29 allows the monthly cost to rise no more than 5 percent per year based on inflation.

The proposal recommended in February called for a $25.85 monthly rate for the same size container. The current rate is $22.90.

For customers who opt to use larger garbage containers, the rate will increase proportionally.

Some new services are included in the new contract, including the offer of a 20-gallon garbage container at a lower rate, and “single-stream” recycling pickup that allows residents to mix all their recyclable products into one container, according to staff.

GreenWaste’s monthly rate includes 12 vouchers per year, allowing customers to haul yard waste to a landfill, in addition to curbside collection of 96-gallon yard waste containers every other week; two vouchers for curbside “rubbish or bulky goods” pickup; placement of larger items on the curb for hauling two days a year; and annual community cleanup programs to serve 600 households each, as stated in the contract.

Even though the San Martin Transfer Station landfill is scheduled to close early in 2010, Rose said residents who still hold vouchers to haul waste to that site will still be able to do so until Dec. 31. Vouchers available to customers through GreenWaste will be redeemable at the Kirby Canyon Landfill north of Morgan Hill.

The new contract also offers a lower monthly rate for low-income residents, and higher rates for rural households on narrow roads that are difficult to serve with garbage trucks.

South Valley Disposal will continue to serve Gilroy at its norma rate.

South Valley Disposal’s contract with the city of Morgan Hill to serve residents inside the city limits, will continue until at least 2015. That contract currently serves about 9,700 households, according to Environmental Programs Director Anthony Eulo.

South Valley Disposal serves about 30,000 households in Santa Clara and San Benito counties.