Detroit aims to boost recycling amid privatization

Detroit aims to boost recycling rate amid privatization

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

The city of Detroit has issued a request for proposals for trash and recycling collection services, and one of the objectives in the switch to private hauling is bolstering the cash-strapped municipality's recycling program.

The RFP document lists "increasing recycling access and increasing the overall recycling rate" as one of the city's top four priorities as it seeks out a firm to take on the five-year contract. It's a goal the city is deeming as important as cost effectiveness, collection reliability and overall sustainability.

The municipality currently handles trash and recycling collection for its 706,000 residents, but has been eyeing privatization to save money. The current garbage and recycling hauling program reportedly costs the municipality $50 million a year.

Earlier this month Detroit became the largest U.S. city to ever file for bankruptcy.

As the city grapples with economic choices, some recycling advocates have worried that much-needed recycling advancements could get lost in the shuffle. "Detroit’s lack of recycling services is indicative of many problems and we’ll advocate for the positive step forward, with the recognition that it could take time," Kerrin O'Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition, said last week. "We certainly don’t want to see backward movement."

Detroit's current curbside recycling program has been in the midst of an expansion, the stated goal of which was to bring curbside collection to 34,000 households. The city also maintains five drop-off points for recyclables.

The waste collection RFP, released July 29, states the city is looking for a firm to handle the following responsibilities:

         -Solid waste collection
         -Bulky waste collection
         -Yard waste collection
         -Single-stream recycling collection
         -Waste disposal services
         -Single-stream recycling processing services
         -Cart management
         -Customer service

In addition, under its list of "optional services," the RFP asks respondents to provide a plan and cost for incorporating a recycling incentive program, such as Recyclebank.

The RFP divides the city into four geographical areas, and interested firms may submit proposals for one or all of those sections. An initial supplier interest conference call is scheduled for Aug. 5, a mandatory pre-proposal conference is set for Aug. 22 and the actual due date for proposals is Sept. 10.

The city's finance department, which issued the RFP, had not replied to requests for comment at press time.

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