February 2011 home page

  Waste Competition Wins
Jon Emerson grew up in Del Mar, now Senior Management Analyst for Redondo Beach

Getting to Zero | Waste Competition Wins


Trash Truck.  Photo Jon Emerson

Ask any city how they purchase a pickup truck for their Public Works Department and they will tell you that they gather the specifications and release a competitive bid. This ensures that every vendor has an opportunity to sell the truck to the city, and assures that the city will get the best price for the pickup truck. Ironically, ask those same cities how they selected their refuse hauler, whose contract value is millions more than any other purchase, and many will tell you that they negotiated with their current waste hauler without posting a Request For Proposal (RFP). Why would a City Council forgo the opportunity to increase services provided at the most competitive pricing? Many will say that developing and releasing and RFP is a lot work. They are right. Yet, there are a number of consultants who will guide the city through the entire process, their expenses reimbursed by the successful proposer at the end of the process.

An RFP forces all haulers to provide a proposal that addresses the services and programs specified by the City at the most competitive pricing. Each proposal will be evaluated on price, customer service ratings from other cities, environmental programs, and the financial strength needed to provide the services promised. A Solid Waste Contract is a city’s largest contract, affecting nearly every resident and business in the community, with terms lasting 5-15 years.

The City of Redondo Beach recently completed an RFP process during which five well respected solid waste firms provided proposals. This RFP was the third such process since 1995 and has allowed the City to secure better waste contract services and programs through competitive pricing. The City has added a number of services and programs since 1995 including: automated carts for unlimited collection of trash, green waste and recycling, weekly bulky item collection from single family and multi-family accounts including electronic waste, and a program to collect food waste from single family homes and restaurants for composting. Despite this laundry list of services, the City’s single family refuse rate of $14.38 is the 12th lowest among 88 cities surveyed in Los Angeles County. Compare that to Del Mar’s rate of $18.91 with far less service and you buy your own trash cans. Additionally, the commercial refuse rate of a 3-yard bin collected once a week is $101.78, the 11 lowest rate in LA County.

On July 1, 2011, when Athens Services begins to implement the new recycling programs and contract terms the refuse rates in Redondo Beach will be 6% lower than the current rates. Moreover, the City’s waste diversion rate will increase from 55% to approximately 75%. The citizens and businesses in Del Mar deserve a competitive RFP process to guarantee that they are receiving the best services and prices that the market can offer.


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