- Five companies have submitted bids for an exclusive contract to collect waste, recycling and yard waste from 50,000 residential and commercial accounts in Santa Rosa, CA. This will be the first time the contract has been open since 2003, as reported by The Press Democrat.
- Nine companies previously signaled their interest, but only five made the deadline on Jan. 30. Bidders include Recology (which is buying The Ratto Group's waste operations), Waste Management, Waste Connections, Green Waste Recovery and Sonoma County Resource Recovery.
- City staff will now review the bids, conduct site visits for each company and deliver recommendations to the City Council in April. The goal is to award the contract at least six months before the current contract with Ratto terminates at the end of the year.
This contract was previously held by Empire Waste Management, a Waste Management subsidiary, for 33 years before Ratto Group beat them with lower rates. That defeat reportedly led Waste Management to eventually exit its other operations in Sonoma County, though now that Ratto's North Bay Corp. operation will soon be part of Recology, Waste Management could see new opportunities in the area.
These opportunities first opened up when the City Council decided not to continue North Bay's contract last summer due to a variety of issues. Ratto is currently charging $17 per month for 32-gallon bins, but has since said that is too low in light of the mounting regulatory and equipment costs it is facing in the area. Regardless of which company gets the contract, customers have been advised to expect a rate increase. Recology has announced plans to replace most of North Bay's fleet and bins, make improvements at its recycling facilities and likely unionize workers and increase their pay.
Like other municipalities in California, Santa Rosa is working to meet a statewide diversion rate goal of 75% as well as local county goals. The city has said the procurement process will favor companies that can "increase diversion and reduce disposal through the use of innovative techniques" and commit to "environmental stewardship including use of local vendors and an overall 'green' approach." After nearly a year of public debate and hearings over the efficiency and sustainability of North Bay's operations, city officials will now be faced with the realities of higher costs for the modern services they want to see.