- The City Council of Ann Arbor, MI has voted to approve another short-term agreement for Waste Management to run its recycling and transfer station temporarily, as reported by MLive.
- The council voted to approve $588,734 for continued service, including $91,542 for recyclables processing and $497,192 for operation of the facility. Waste Management will ultimately be paid based on unit prices agreed on in the deal and not for a specific length of time or maximum amount.
- City officials still plan to find a multi-year operator, but are conducting a review first to determine terms and operating details. A request for proposals to run the facility in the interim has been issued and responses are due by Sep. 22. The interim operator could potentially take over by early 2017.
Ann Arbor's recycling situation has been chaotic since the city abruptly terminated its contract with previous facility operator ReCommunity earlier in the summer due to alleged safety and performance issues. ReCommunity has since filed a federal lawsuit citing a breach of contract and late payments, among other issues. Last month, the council voted to bring Waste Management in for six weeks through a $295,690 emergency purchase order.
Local environmental advocates were upset with this decision at the time and some council members also expressed misgivings about Waste Management's track record on recycling at their most recent meeting. The company's CEO David Steiner has made multiple public comments questioning the economics of recycling. Yet lately these comments have been more about how environmental benefits of collecting certain material types must be weighed against the cost of collecting them.
Other questions about current practices in the recycling facility were also raised and city officials say these will all be addressed in a report by the consultant CB&I. The report will be used to "develop strategies that optimize both the financial and environmental sustainability of the operations." It is expected to be complete by April 2017 and will help guide officials in contracting with a long-term operator at that time.