City selects less expensive trash service

FILE PHOTO: Waste Management collects trash and recycling bins on May 26, 2019 in Canyon Country. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal
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After decades of partnering with Waste Management, the Santa Clarita City Council decided Tuesday to go with a new solid waste collection service for local residents.

For at least the next 10 years, garbage collection in the city will now be handled by Burrtec Waste Industries Inc., which offered both residential and commercial waste disposal at a cheaper monthly rate than that of Waste Management and Athens Services, the two other companies involved in the bidding process.  

Burrtec’s proposed rate for residential waste collection — which will come into effect in July of next year — was $28.92 and a commercial rate of $179.07. While the two rates are higher than the current amount paid by Santa Clarita consumers, they are both lower than the regional average by 5.3% and 23.9%, respectively.  

According to the agenda, the decision to change vendors after decades of working with Waste Management was largely the result of a number of new policies recently passed or enacted by Sacramento, particularly Senate Bill 1383.  

SB 1383, which was enacted Jan. 1, aims to reduce the environmental impacts caused by the release of methane emissions from organic materials decomposing in landfills. It also stipulates a statewide effort to increase edible food recovery.  

In light of SB 1383, the city staff constructed a new solid waste agreement that included new carts and painted bins, manure being processed as organic waste, contamination monitoring and support for an edible food recovery program, among other organic waste stipulations.  

Additionally, the city wanted to expand or create new services for residents and businesses, such as large cardboard box and carpet/mattress pickup, code enforcement cleanup services and document shredding events. Burrtec also proposed a call center located in the city to assist with customer service, while Waste Management and Athens either did not propose one or did not appear able to provide an adequate number of customer service representatives to staff the call center.   

After the city selected the three companies to enter into the bidding process, Burrtec received the highest score among the competitors, evaluated on metrics that considered professionalism, quality and familiarity with SB 1383. Their rate was also half that of the Waste Management proposed total for residents and almost $120 difference for commercial.  

“It’s never easy to come to an end; we don’t want to,” said Mike Hammer, president of Waste Management Southern California, while speaking at the podium during the meeting Tuesday. “We’ve enjoyed working here. Certainly, we haven’t been perfect, but we’ve worked really, really hard and I’m proud of the team that we have.” 

Hammer, although expressing his appreciation for the decades-long partnership Waste Management and the city have had, took time Tuesday to explain why their price was higher. The company president said that the city placing a cap on annual rate increases at 4% over a 10-year period created challenges for the company in terms of risk.  

“The risk was very high that unless you start high, you’re going to end up under water,” Hammer said. 

He also expressed his disappointment that, although his company already has operational local facilities built to handle organics, multiple landfills and recycling facilities, Waste Management was evaluated by the city as having the lowest technical ability, knowledge about the industry and knowledge of the law.  

“And that was a really tough pill to swallow,” said Hammer. “But I will say this: If we’re not going to service the residents of Santa Clarita, I’m glad you’re picking Burrtec.” 

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