For the first time in years, the city of Oakland will be counting on a different company to handle garbage pickup.
Last week, city council unanimously voted to award the highly coveted 10-year contract (valued at $1 billion) to California Waste Solutions (CWS), an Oakland-based company whose primary expertise lies in recycling. The decision to place garbage-collecting responsibilities for the entire city in the hands of a company with no experience with garbage represents an extremely risky venture.
With CWS taking over garbage collection duties, it marks the end a decades-long business relationship between the city and Waste Management, the agency previously handling garbage pickup. At times in the past the relationship has been strained, many pointing the Waste Managements decision to lock out 500 members of the Teamsters labor union after workers refused the companies demand that they pay a larger share of their healthcare benefits as a major factor. As a result, trash was left uncollected for two weeks and city officials were not too happy. (Source)
The major turning point during negotiations came when Waste Management refused to budge off the proposed $100 a year rate increase. CWS offered a more competitive bid, with a figure that would only cost residents around $80 more per year. With the winning bid comes the daunting task of CWS expanding their current operations to meet its new needs. In less then a year, CWS must:
- Build a transfer station in Oakland
- Add 150+ employees
- Double its 70-truck fleet
- Invest around $80 million into operations
- Swap out 300,000 trash bins
Should CWS fall short during preparations, they have prepared to let Republic Services, the second largest garbage service in the US, will allow them to use their transfer station in Richmond.