The Scio Township Trash & Recycling Project in More Detail

From contributing writer Bryce Kelly, Scio Township Manager:

The Township of Scio is actively working on a multiyear contract with a municipal solid waste and recyclables removal company to begin a mandatory Township-wide trash & recycling pickup service for all Township residential customers.

In late fall of 2016 the Board of Trustees first indicated their desire to put a single municipal waste hauling vendor program in place. At the time the discussion centered on reducing damage to the Township’s local roads due to the number of heavy trucks that drive them daily, trash & recycling bins on the side of the road most days of the week, and traffic safety.

Currently residential customers contract for their own trash & recycling pickup service.

Today, no less than 7 firms provide some form of these services in our residential areas. A typical garbage truck weighs 18 tons empty. With the number of providers serving the Township some neighborhoods see up to twelve, 18 ton trucks, run up and down their streets every week, sometimes 4-6 times a day. If you live on a connector road this traffic may be much higher. And due to the various pickup schedules of the companies serving the Township, some streets may have garbage bins placed at the curb for pick up 3-4 days a week.

So why does the township want to get into the trash & recycling business?

Management of municipal trash & recyclables is an important environmental service. Thousands of municipalities across the state and country regulate it as a utility. In these municipalities trash & recyclables management is similar to the manner in which publicly supplied water, sewer and power is regulated, monitored, managed and billed.

The truth of the matter is the Township isn’t necessarily eager to jump into the trash & recycling service. However, there are several reasons why it is the right thing to do now:

  • Reduce heavy truck traffic on the local roads in Scio Township.
  • Focus on efficiencies of the trash & recycling services.
  • Provide the highest standards of service, experience, & reliability at a competitive price.
  • Educate the customer in trash diversion, waste reduction and recycling practices.
  • Help residents decrease the amount of solid waste sent to landfills.
  • Reduce the number of days trash bins are set out on Township roads.

Scio Township is not alone in this. Many communities use similar mandatory or preferred vendor services. Recognizing the need for a sustained approach to trash & recyclables management, the 2018 Washtenaw County Solid Waste Plan identifies several mid- and long-term goals and objectives for a regional collaboration for the management of solid waste and recycling. They include:

  1. develop an aggressive plan to reduce the overall amount of municipal solid waste;
  2. develop an aggressive plan to increase the diversion rate of municipal solid waste to recyclables;
  3. develop, support, and monitor comprehensive education, outreach, and feedback programs;
  4. ensure the safe, lawful, and efficient management of municipal solid waste; and
  5. operate collaboratively within the County and regionally outside of the County for a comprehensive sustainable materials management strategy.

Scio Township’s goals and objectives share similar priorities with respect to solid waste conversion, consumer education, quality of service and economy of scale. In April of 2018 the preparation of a Request for Bids (the RFB) began. After working through 5 drafts, and a legal review, the RFB was issued in February of 2018. The opening paragraph of the 30 page RFB summarized the Township’s required vendor criteria;

“The Township of Scio, Washtenaw County, MI is soliciting bids to provide for the collection and disposal of residential solid waste and recycling services throughout the Township. Bids are being solicited only from responsible and established bidders known to be experienced and regularly engaged in the work of solid waste collection and recycling services. Bidders will be required to provide satisfactory evidence that they possess the necessary capital, equipment, personnel, and experience to do the work.”

Four qualified responses were received at the end of March 2018 from the 6 firms that expressed an interest in bidding. Due to the size of the Township’s contract two bidders chose not to bid. Over 1000 pages in total were submitted. The Township Manager asked two elected officials and three township residents to independently review the responses and score them. The scores of the two highest ranked responses were nearly identical. After a series of clarifications and responses to additional questions the Township Manager recommended the Board of Trustees enter into contract negotiations with GFL Environmental.

At the time of the publication of this article the Board of Trustees will most likely be reviewing new trash & recycling ordinances for adoption and implementation, and the contract negotiations should be underway.

Despite the numerous discussions at the Board of Trustees meetings, newsletter articles, and the website, news of the project has not reached everyone in the larger community. We have heard from a number of residents that they were not aware of the trash & recycling project. Moving forward there will continue to be updates on the website, in the newsletter and at Board meetings about the status of the project.

In addition, there will be mailed notifications of upcoming public comment forums. Two forums are planned. The first will address new Scio Township trash & recycling ordinances, the second will address details of the service for the residential customers. The company will be available to answer questions and clarifications at these forums.

In closing please note these key points:

  • The Township will be your solid waste and recyclables pick up provider.
  • This is a mandatory program for residential properties including HOA’s.
  • The vendor will pick up yard waste, probably from April until as late as November, to be determined by the Township.
  • Pricing will be competitive.
  • The Township will bill you separately for this service. This will not be added to your tax bill.
  • New bins will be distributed – a 95 gallon trash bin and a 65 gallon recyclables bin on wheels, both with covers.
  • This will not result in an increase in your taxes.

The Township anticipates the new service will begin in March of 2019. If you are under contract with a waste hauler, you will not be required to participate in the Township program until the end of your current contract term, up to no more than one year.

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