As Newport’s current solid waste contract is set to expire at the end of June, city leaders are asking for the public to provide input on a new contract and whether the city should spend more for comprehensive service or opt for less expensive, pay-as-you-throw options.
Underlying any new initiative is a desire on the part of city officials to boost recycling rates. Cities and towns across Rhode Island are trying to meet the 35 percent recycling rate goal set by the state. The idea is to not only increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the Central Landfill in Johnston, but also to save money. The higher the city’s recycling rate, the lower the tipping fee, or rate that a community pays to dispose of trash.
Last year, the city had a recycling rate of 23.5 percent – the highest it ever seen, but that’s far from the 35 percent goal – and well below the 25- to 29 percent it must meet to start getting incentive discounts on the tipping rate.
Just one bidder, Waste Management, responded to the city’s request for proposals last year.
The city now must decide between four different scenarios, starting with a basic plan that would keep the status quo and not provide carts all the way to a cart based collection system with no pay-as-you-throw fees.
Here’s the scenarios:
Scenario 1 – Status Quo
The city would pay $1.275 million per year and no carts would be distributed to residents. The city would be paying $742,000 for refuse collection and $533,000 for recycling with a total five-year cost of $6.375 million.
Scenario 2 – Cart Based Collection
Under this scenario, the city would pay $6.746 million over five years with refuse collection landing at $1.15 million, recycling would be free and the $986,400 cart cost paid up in the first year. The city would have the option of spreading the cost of the carts over the five year contract with a additional cost of about $30,000.
Scenario 3 – PAYT in Bags, Carts Included
In this scenario, the city would pay much less for services and generate revenue through the sales of pay-as-you-throw bags. Like the previous scenario, the cost of carts can either be paid in full in year one or spread over five years. The total cost of the contract would be $3.376 million or $3.406 million depending on the cart payment choice.
This scenario would also offer no charge for recycling services and refuse collection would be a flat $1.152 million per year. Revenue from selling the bags is estimated to land at $674,000 per year.
Scenario 4 – No Carts, PAYT, PAYT Bulky Waste
This scenario would offer the city the lowest cost per year but residents would get the least amount of service.
Much like scenario 3, recycling would be free, refuse would cost $1.15 million and the city would generate $674,000 in revenue each year. In the end, the city would pay just $477,000 per year with a cost of $2.385 million over the five year contract.
The downside to this option is that residents would have to buy bags on a regular basis as well as pay for bulky waste removal – something that is included under the current contract.
But this option would likely result in the most recycling, as residents forced to buy bags tend to be more vigilant about identifying and sorting recyclables.
The city is approaching its solid waste cap for this year, which means the city will likely encounter $30,000 in extra fees – another reason that the city is hoping to boost recycling rates.
In all scenarios except for scenario 4, the city would incur annual bulky waste costs of $41,000 and annual yard waste costs of $176,000.
The City Council is due to award the contract sometime in April, but not after making a decision on what option to choose.
The city is asking residents to review the plan and submit feedback. Forward your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
A copy of the waste contract plan outlines and materials is attached to this article. Click "download .pdf" to grab it.