Only one firm wants city's waste contract

Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Only one bidder for Juneau's recycling business has emerged, and it's the current contract holder.

Waste Management's contract expires Sept. 30, but the city's waste program coordinator, Pam Grange, will negotiate a new deal with the company because no one else wanted the job.

A city public works committee has authorized Grange's talks with the company. The Assembly will approve or reject the deal next month.

Grange recommends that the city extend the contract for only one year because a mayor-appointed recycling advisory committee will present its final report in December.

"Issuing the contract before the report could result in a document that falls short of the community's vision," Grange said.

Waste Management recycles aluminum cans, newspapers, corrugated cardboard, tin or steel cans, glass and non-ferrous metals.

In the new contract with the company, Grange wants to include two types of plastics - PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene). Water and pop bottles are made of PET, while milk jugs and detergent containers are made of HDPE.

Both kinds of plastics are hot in the recycling market. PET sells at $150 a ton while HDPE sells for $200 a ton. Shipping them south costs the city $43.06 a ton.

"Plastics don't decompose in a landfill," Grange said. "Revenue return for recycled PET and HDPE plastics is greater than the cost of shipping."

Juneau's five major supermarkets - Costco, A & P Supermarket, Fred Meyer, Safeway and Super Bear Supermarket - sell about 3.8 million PET and 4.5 million HDPE bottles a year.

But whether the city can benefit from recycling plastics will depend on the residents. About 5 percent of Juneau's 12,000 households recycle.

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