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Deal is reached to continue recycling pickup in Omaha through the end of the year

RecyclingMonster - Recycling will go on uninterrupted in Omaha after the city on Tuesday tweaked its contract with the company that processes the cardboard, plastic and paper that people set at the curb.

The City Council, in a 5-1 vote, agreed to pay local recycling processor Firstar Fiber the same rate per ton that the city pays Waste Management to take a ton of garbage to the landfill, $25.92.

The change means the city estimates it will pay Firstar Fiber an additional $135,000 or so from September through the end of the year, assuming people recycle the usual amount.

Deputy City Attorney Bernard in den Bosch and Jim Key of Public Works told the council that the city had negotiated a far better rate than Firstar Fiber wanted.

They also said the city had little choice other than to renegotiate its deal with Firstar Fiber unless the city was willing to throw away recyclables.

Firstar Fiber had told the city in recent months that it was willing to quit the city’s contract, which was to run through 2020, and pay a $60,000 penalty because it wasn’t making money.

“That would end recycling,” in den Bosch told the council. “The alternative of calling their bluff was not an alternative that Public Works wanted to explore.”

Company owner Dale Gubbels has said the market for recyclables collapsed in recent months with China’s decision to stop buying as much American waste.

He told the council that demand for many recyclables was still low and that he hoped to move some cardboard off his property before the first snow flies.

Firstar also let city officials see its financials to show them the importance of updating the contract to avoid the company’s exit.

Two of the council’s supporters of recycling, council President Chris Jerram and council member Pete Festersen, ended up on opposite sides.

Jerram, who voted against the change, said he didn’t want to risk setting a precedent that companies could renegotiate city contracts outside of the bidding process.

Festersen said making sure Omaha maintained a viable recycling program was worth making the change and paying more.

The city says the additional money will come from funds set aside for the transition to a new garbage contract. Public Works said it was doing that work itself.

As part of the agreement, the city will put out a request for bids as early as this week for the next contract to handle the city’s recycling.

Firstar Fiber, in turn, agreed to keep accepting the city’s recycling and to bid on the new contract.

Courtesy : https://www.omaha.com