Five Companies Submit Bids For Cape’s Trash Disposal
By: Brent Runyon
The Cape Cod Solid Waste Advisory Committee received five price quotes from companies seeking to provide trash disposal services for Cape Cod towns by the deadline last Tuesday, but the negotiation process is far from over.
Trash contracts are exempt from the state laws governing procurement, so companies that did not submit price quotes are still eligible to negotiate with the county or with towns.
The companies that submitted quotes were Waste Management; E.L. Harvey and Sons in Westborough with a landfill in Southbridge; We Care Organics based in Jordan, New York, with a facility in upstate New York; Interstate Waste Technologies, which hopes to open a new facility in Taunton in 2016; and Sustainable New Energy, a new technology for trash disposal without an existing location or permit.
SEMASS Covanta, the waste-to-energy facility in Rochester, where all Cape Cod towns except Bourne currently dispose of trash, did not submit a price quote, but is still a major player in the process.
Also still in the mix is the Bourne Integrated Solid Waste Facility, which could be an option for Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich. Bourne could handle up to 24,000 tons of solid waste a year, according to a letter of interest, but did not provide specific pricing information. Bourne could not handle the estimated 125,000 tons a year from the towns on Cape
Cod and the other 11 towns off-Cape participating in the process.
Cape Cod Solid Waste Advisory Committee met Wednesday to discuss the quotes, which ranged from $78.06 to $88.66 per ton for transportation and disposal for Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich. The price will rise each year with escalation clauses built into the contract. The companies submitted bids with contract terms of varying lengths, of five to 25 years.
“I think the group was encouraged by the responses that we got,” said Deputy Director Patty Daley. The committee authorized her to meet with SEMASS to discuss possible contract negotiations.
What is clear is that whichever company the towns choose for trash disposal, prices will go up drastically when the current contracts with SEMASS expire at the end of 2014.
Currently, the three towns pay about $37 per ton for disposal at SEMASS. Not included in that figure is the cost of running the Upper Cape Regional Transfer Station, where town trash is collected and loaded onto trains, and a fee of $9.56 a ton to Mass Coastal Railroad to transport the trash to SEMASS.
But the new quotes are also less than the contract extension that SEMASS proposed to each of the towns in 2009 for about $80 per ton for disposal only, Ms. Daley said. The SEMASS proposal is what kicked off the Cape Cod Solid Waste Advisory Committee process.
Since that time, Ms. Daley said prices have dropped. “It’s a very good time for us to be having this discussion,” she said.
Thomas J. Cippolla, business manager for SEMASS, said he has been in negotiations with individual towns and still hopes to provide trash services to the towns. Mr. Cippolla said the price SEMASS quoted in 2009 was actually $75 per ton starting in 2015, which is around the market price right now.
Mr. Cippolla agreed that prices for disposal have come down, but transportation costs have gone up, he said. Other than Bourne, SEMASS is the closest facility to Cape Cod, and costs of fuel for transportation will likely drive the other prices up, Mr. Cippolla said.
Falmouth Department of Public Works Director Raymond A. Jack said Monday that overall the process of seeking prices from companies other than SEMASS was worthwhile. “Not only do I think the process was worthwhile, I think it was absolutely necessary,” he said.
But Mr. Jack said the process of determining a trash disposal contract is only half the story. “This is all about trash,” he said, “But there is not just trash; there is trash and recycling.” Falmouth and the other towns will have to come up with strategies to link trash and recycling.
Falmouth Board of Selectmen must decide on whether Falmouth should adopt a pay-as-you-throw system when they hold a workshop next month, Mr. Jack said. “They really do need to make a decision one way or another,” he said. In pay-as-you-throw, residents buy specially marked trash bags, but recycling collection is paid for with tax dollars. The desired result is that the amount of trash decreases and recycling increases.
Last year Falmouth was awarded a $150,000 grant to implement pay-as-you-throw from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, but that grant must be accepted by October. Mr. Jack said the grant does not drive whether Falmouth goes to pay-as-you-throw. If selectmen decide not to accept the grant now, the town would still be eligible to reapply in the future, Mr. Jack said.
Of the price quotes submitted to the Cape Cod Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Waste Management submitted the lowest, at $78.06 for transportation and disposal for Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich.
James Nocella, area manager for Waste Management, said he hopes Cape Cod communities realize that they have more than one option for trash disposal. “Maybe they didn’t think they had any options, but through this process hopefully they have found that Waste Management is a viable option,” he said.
Waste Management would truck the trash from the Upper Cape Regional Transfer Station near the Falmouth gate of the Massachusetts Military Reservation to one of various facilities in the region. The energy train, which currently transfers trash to SEMASS, would be eliminated, Mr. Nocella said.
The next lowest price for Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich was E.L. Harvey and Sons, at $78.37 per ton for transportation and disposal. The trash would be hauled by truck from the Upper Cape Regional Transfer Station to a landfill in Southbridge, eliminating the train.
Interstate Waste Technology quoted a price of $82 per ton for transportation and disposal. The trash would be disposed of at a new facility in Taunton, which is not expected to be operational until 2016. Until then the trash will be taken by a subcontractor, according to the bid.
The highest price was from We Care Organics at $88.66 per ton for transportation and disposal. That trash would be transported by train to a landfill in upstate New York.
Sustainable New Energy quoted a price of $50 a ton for disposal only. The company proposes to install a waste disposal technology at one of the transfer stations or at the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The system uses a technology called gasification to heat trash and turn the waste into natural gas, but is not currently permitted through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. President James P. Sweeney wrote in his proposal that the new technology should meet DEP requirements and will be permitted in the future.
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