CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad City Council awarded a new contract for trash, organics and recycling services during its April 6 meeting, although questions linger about the winning bid.
Republic Services, the second-largest waste removal company in the country, won the bid following a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Matt Hall and Councilman Keith Blackburn voting no citing concerns of fewer environmental incentives and rate savings, and a higher contract bid.
The 10-year contract, one of the city’s biggest, was awarded to Republic Services for a bid of $27.7 million (per year) compared to EDCO’s bid of $27.5 million. Republic Services will begin city operations on July 1, 2022, taking over for Waste Management, who didn’t submit a bid.
Councilmembers Cori Schumacher, Priya Bhat-Patel and Teresa Acosta lauded the company’s ties to the Teamsters Local 683 union, worker protections, labor peace, pledges to equity, lower vehicle miles traveled and fewer objections to the request for proposal.
“These are both great proposals,” Acosta said. “It’s about picking the one most closely aligned with our values. It’s a family business (EDCO) and that worries me. I like the that we’ve got a public business that cares about its employees.”
During the meeting, talks also centered on the vehicle miles traveled analysis.
According to the staff report, Republic’s fleet, which will be based out of Carlsbad, included mileage for taking waste to San Marcos before heading to its facilities in either Otay Mesa or Anaheim.
Jamie Wood, the city’s environmental services manager, and Rob Hilton, of H&H Consulting, hired by the city to independently review the bids, said their calculations showed Republic’s vehicle miles traveled were approximately 100 miles fewer per week compared to EDCO’s weekly mileage.
But EDCO’s proposal contained “significant” factors to help reduce carbon emissions.
“With EDCO using an RNG (renewable natural gas) produced from the city’s own organic materials in their fleet of 35 vehicles and using a very conservative CI (carbon intensity) of being carbon neutral, the city can reduce their on-road transportation community GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by 2,419 tons of carbon dioxide on day one of the contract,” according to EDCO’s proposal.
Wood said reducing greenhouse gases by 2,419 tons over 10 years would help the city reach its 2035 climate goal of reducing emissions by 49,012 tons.
Specific information on the type of trucks used by a Republic subcontractor was not available so emission factors could not be provided by staff. Republic said it is working to electrify its fleet, but it will be at least eight to 10 years before the technology will be operational.
Hilton also questioned the veracity of Republics’ claims of saving ratepayers $13.9 million over 10 years, saying it was overly “simplified.”
Javara Perrilliat, area president of Republic Services, said the company’s rates are 4.5% lower than Lemon Grove-based EDCO, although Wood and Hilton said there are hundreds of different rates for a variety of services and Republic’s claim of savings doesn’t align with their calculations.
EDCO, which contracts with Encinitas, Solana Beach, Imperial Beach and others, offered the best environmental incentives to the city through its anaerobic digestion facilities.
The process involves microorganisms breaking down organic material to produce Biogas, which is converted to renewable natural gas and used to fuel EDCO’s trucks, according to Steve South, chief executive officer of EDCO.
Additionally, EDCO does not use landfills, South said.
Republic’s trucks use diesel fuel and dump in landfills, according to the staff report.
According to the state, organic waste in landfills accounts for 20% of methane emissions. Assembly Bill 1383, passed in 2016, aims to lessen organic waste in landfills to limit methane being released into the atmosphere to help reduce climate change.
One advantage Wood saw was the city would not have to buy back organic material from EDCO as required by AB 1383, as it must do with Republic. Wood said EDCO would use all the organic waste to power its fleet, while also retaining some for a give-back program for residents put on by EDCO.
With Republic, the city must purchase 9,243 tons of organic waste per year, according to the law. Republic proposed 2,500 cubic yards, but it still leaves the city short of its requirement.
However, Hall was able to have Republic commit to no further cost to the city for buy-backs and storage, instead of having the waste hauler take the burden of the cost. The city will use the organic material for its own uses, but leftovers will be either sold or given to residents or agriculture businesses.
“If the challenges were that big, staff would not have recommended EDCO,” Hall said. “The best contract for the citizens, especially from an environmental aspect, is EDCO.”
As for labor peace, Perrilliat said Republic was the only bidder to agree to a labor peace agreement. Hall questioned him about a recent labor dispute, but Perrilliat said no days of work were missed.
In 2019, Teamsters employees in Chula Vista missed one day of work to show support to fellow union members in Massachusetts who went on strike against Republic over claims of an unfair contract. Additionally, workers at Republic’s Anaheim facility authorized a strike and San Diego union workers picketed.