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(March 6, 2018)

Omaha’s next solid waste collection contract is expected to go out for bid by June.

The contract will include collecting garbage, recyclables and yard waste.  The current contract with Waste Management expires in 2020. It has been in effect since 2006.

Though still in development, the next contract will require automated trucks and covered, wheeled carts, which is a safer, more efficient system.

“We don’t believe any company will bid if we don’t move to the current industry standard of service,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Omaha’s contract is described as one of the largest procurement contracts in the country this year.

The current plan is to deliver three 96-gallon carts to every residential customer, one for garbage, one for yard waste and the third for recyclables.  There will be no cost to homeowners. After a 90-day trial, customers can exchange the large cart for a smaller size, most likely 45-48 gallons.  Customers may also opt out of one or more carts. For example, if a customer does not generate yard waste, that cart may not be necessary or wanted.

Public surveys conducted over the last year show 9.4 out of 10 households can be served with a 96-gallon cart. (SCS Engineers)

Another significant change in the next contract will be the amount of yard waste that can be left at the curb each week. The current contract with Waste Management allows year-round unlimited yard waste.

“This is not sustainable,” said Mayor Stothert. “There is a significant cost to taxpayers for unlimited yard waste collection, and it’s not sustainable in a long term contract.”

The RFB is expected to require all bidders to include two bids for yard waste collection; one bid for separate collection, a second bid for co-collection with trash. “The cost of yard waste collection will certainly be a factor as we select a new contractor,” said Mayor Stothert.  A decision on yard waste collections (separate or co-collection) will be made at a later date.  The collection contract does not include the disposal of waste, only the collection processes.

Several new options are being studied to help homeowners dispose of large volumes of yard waste, including a Fall cleanup similar to the Spring Cleanup offered each year, yard waste drop-off sites, and educational programs to reduce yard waste.

The RFB will also require bidders to have a modern fleet of vehicles that use an alternative fuel, likely CNG.

Waste Management currently picks up waste at 145,000 households each week.  The current cost is $9.19 per customer, per month, or a total of approximately $16 million annually which is paid from the city’s General Fund. The next contract is expected to cost significantly more, possibly double to an annual cost of $30-$32 million. The 10-year contract will have two five-year renewal options.

Nebraska state statute requires cities of the metropolitan class to provide “basic city services” at no additional cost to taxpayers, which includes solid waste collection. Omaha is the only metropolitan class city in the state.

The City hired SCS Engineers to assist with research, public outreach and development of the RFB. SCS expects there will be multiple bids.  The City Council approved the current contract with SCS for approximately $99,000. “This is a huge contract. We need the expertise of a company like SCS to help us develop the best bid possible. SCS is the best company to do that,” said Mayor Stothert.

The RFB is expected to be issued in May or June.  There will be a mandatory pre-bid meeting in June or July.  Bids will be due in August-September, and a recommendation on a new contractor will likely be made to the City Council by the end of the year.  Council members were briefed Tuesday on the status of the RFB development and will have the next 60 days to provide input.

After the Council awards the contract, it will take nine-15 months to phase in the new collection system.

Over the last two years, thousands of citizens have provided input through emails, letters, telephone surveys, a six-month test of an automated system, meetings with community groups, prospective bidders and cart vendors and a series of open houses and demonstrations.  That feedback is being considered as the request for bids is developed.

“We have a unique opportunity to modernize the City of Omaha collection system,” said SCS Engineers Vice-President Mike Miller.  “We want to get the best contract we can for the citizens of Omaha.”

For more information and resources, go to:  http://www.wasteline.org/future.htm

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