SAN FRANCISCO—Recology, Inc. may replace Waste Management of Alameda County, Inc. as the city’s official garbage collector, despite opposition.

San Francisco's trash will no longer be sent to Altamont Landfill after the city's agreement with WMAC comes to an end starting early next year.
San Francisco’s trash will no longer be sent to Altamont Landfill after the city’s agreement with WMAC comes to an end starting early next year.

The director of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment (DOE) signed a 9-year contract with Ecology, a San Francisco-based company. According to the contract, the city’s garbage will now be dumped in Hay Road Landfill near Vacaville in Solano County, about 50 miles northwest of San Francisco.

San Francisco’s trash goes to the Waste Management-owned Altamont Landfill near Livermore, CA.

The contract process began back in 2009, and Recology’s current contract with the city is estimated to be worth around $130 million.

On July 24, Waste Management of Alameda County, Inc. (WMAC) filed a lawsuit with the California Superior Court to “halt any further action to steer [the] contract to Recology,” according to a press release. WMAC is claiming that the DOE “betrayed the city’s obligation to the competitive procurement process.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the lawsuit also accuses the city of “repeatedly tipp[ing] the scales in favor of Recology,” claiming that WMAC “never had a fair or equal chance to compete for the contract.”

One of WMAC’s chief complaints is that the contract with the city was “characterized in every procurement document and even in a proposed approval resolution submitted to the board [in June] as a 10-year deal”—until the DOE abruptly reduced the terms of the contract.

“WMAC is compelled to file the lawsuit now after [the] sudden proposed change by the DOE to alter the term of the disposal contract with Recology in order to evade a public vote by the Board,” said Barry Skolnick, President of WMAC Barry Skolnick. “That’s a stunning move—six years later—to evade a Board vote and avoid public scrutiny, a move that expedites the award to Recology.”

Recology maintains that it won its fight for San Francisco’s trash fairly. Among other monetary benefits, Recology bid $22.73 per ton, while WMAC bid $46 per ton. Over the duration of the contract, that difference would amount to over $100 million in savings for ratepayers.

WMAC tried to compete with Recology’s cost-savings by offering the city even lower rates for garbage disposal. The city rejected those offers by signing the new agreement with Recology.

The change won’t be implemented until early next year, when the current agreement with Waste Management expires. WMAC is expected to continue the fight in court.