SOLANA BEACH — More than two decades of dual trash collectors are over after council members at the June 13 meeting unanimously approved an exclusive agreement with EDCO Waste and Recycling Services.
Since 1993, EDCO has picked up commercial waste and recycling, while Waste Management provided the same services for residential customers.
“This arrangement has been manageable, but has been sometimes difficult for staff logistically in regards to managerial reporting that’s required,” Assistant City Manager Dan King said, adding that it has also created legislative and regulatory compliance issues and some confusion in the community.
According to the staff report, city officials have been working to move to one waste hauler for operational efficiencies, economies of scale, additional services and potential cost savings.
In November 2015 both companies were notified the city was ending one-year automatic renewal and extension provisions and the contracts would be terminated in four years under the terms of the existing agreements.
The intent was to allow both companies to bid for the contract after the city released a request for proposals, which King said can be a costly and staff-intensive process.
However, EDCO negotiated a buyout with Waste Management in December 2017 and took over residential services.
Based on past positive experience with EDCO, “and assessing the relatively seamless transition to providing residential services,” the staff report states, Solana Beach negotiated contract terms with the company, saving the city money and limiting the staff demands of going through the RFP process.
“The exclusive agreement will also minimize risk and liability and provide cost-effective collection service in an environmentally sound fashion,” King said. “It will also minimize trash truck traffic in Solana Beach and provide a consistent and predictable collection schedule.”
What won’t change are the availability of disposal sites, free city facility and special event solid waste and recycling pickup, free waste audits for commercial accounts and help with legislative compliance.
A rate freeze will be in effect for the remainder of this year.
Beginning July 1, EDCO will raise the franchise fee paid to Solana Beach from 7.5 percent to 10 percent, resulting in $60,000 added annually to city coffers.
The company also increased its contribution to the Community Grant Program from $5,000 to $15,000 and will provide street sweeping/litter abatement and household hazardous waste funding totaling $45,000 and $30,000 annually, respectively.
Additionally, EDCO will provide one-time funding of up to 50 percent for the Fletcher Cove trash enclosure removal project.
The waste hauler plans to invest in three new zero-emissions, renewable natural gas powered residential trash and recycling trucks for use in Solana Beach.
Enhanced public education materials featuring a newsletter that will be distributed four times a year will be developed, as will food waste collection infrastructure for future implementation.
Free annual events will be held for document shredding, composting and mulching and electronic and universal waste collection and disposal.
EDCO will increase community cleanup events from one to two annually and increase the quantity from three items to four per household; implement a drop-off program for needles and syringes; and work with the city to create zero-waste community events and a donated clothing, shoes and book drop-off program.
All trash carts will be replaced within six months. Additionally, at the request of the city, EDCO will implement an automated green waste collection program with up to three 95-gallon carts at no extra charge.
The company created a dedicated Solana Beach webpage and will maintain a local customer service call center with email and text capabilities.
The new contract begins July 1 and runs through 2022, with automatic one-year extensions.
“I’ve always been partial to EDCO, so I’m really pleased you’re our full provider,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said.
Councilman Peter Zahn said the contract is “squishy when it comes to composting,” and asked if that could be implemented any faster.
“It definitely has our full attention,” Steve South, EDCO’s president and chief executive officer, said. “There is a lack of infrastructure as it relates to food waste.”
He said the issue needs to be approached in a “safe and sustainable manner that doesn’t create unintended consequences, especially through storm water.”
He said several area cities are researching interim steps that can be taken, such as working with food banks to eliminate food waste, before infrastructure comes online.
“(Infrastructure) is an important element in legislature because this is not the primary use for food,” South said. “Food rescue and recovery efforts and source reduction should be the primary efforts. … The goal is to reduce the stream going in. There’s an excessive amount that doesn’t need to be there.”