Trash day in Omaha is messier now than it will be in 2021.
That’s when the city will replace thousands of residents’ trash cans and green recycling bins with large, covered trash carts. Most of those cans and bins will be recycled under plans being discussed at City Hall.
The Omaha City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a new 10-year trash contract that will provide every household with at least two of the new covered, 96-gallon trash carts. The contract starts in 2021.
Today, Omaha residents buy their own plastic or metal trash cans. The city doesn’t know exactly how many trash cans Omahans are using to toss out garbage and yard waste. Public Works’ best guess is at least 500,000.
Omaha residents also have 100,000 or more of the green, 18-gallon recycling bins. Those bins will no longer be needed because all the options for the city’s next trash contract provide one covered, 96-gallon trash cart for recycling.
The final two bidders for that trash contract committed to the City Council last week that they would help residents recycle the bins and trash cans left behind. But the costs of those efforts differ.
FCC Environmental of Spain, one of the world’s largest trash haulers, said it wouldn’t charge the city to recycle Omahans’ trash cans and recycling bins. The company said it would cover the costs if it secures the trash bid.
West Central Sanitation of Minnesota, a regional company that serves small- and medium-sized communities, said it would bid the recycling effort separately. Owner Don Williamson said it could cost the city up to $500,000.
As Williamson noted in his Aug. 13 testimony before the City Council, the effort to recycle and dispose of residents’ privately owned trash cans was not part of the bid put out by the city.
Representatives of both companies have said in recent weeks that recycling the containers will require the haulers to secure partners to do the recycling work.
FCC’s plan would select a drop-off site for people to bring their trash cans and recycling bins, based on company correspondence with the Public Works Department.
“We can recycle those, with a vendor contract, at no cost to the city,” said Dan Brazil, FCC’s director of collection services.
The city would cover the tipping fees for trash cans that cannot be recycled and have to be tossed into the landfill, which could get pricey if a lot of the cans are too old or too contaminated to be salvaged.
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West Central has said it is still developing its can and bin recycling plan.
West Central’s $22.2 million a year three-cart bid remains the council’s cheapest option. It would provide residents with a cart each for trash, yard waste and recycling. Even in the first year, with the one-time, up-to-$500,000 cost of recycling the old trash cans thrown in, it would still be $1.5 million less a year than FCC’s two-cart bid.
FCC’s total package would cost $24.2 million a year. Residents would get two carts — one for trash and yard waste together, and another for recycling. It also includes eight to 12 weeks of unlimited yard waste pickup to be split between the spring and fall.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and the Public Works Department continue to recommend the FCC bid.
Several council members have said they are still deciding how to vote on the contract.
Council members Pete Festersen and Brinker Harding said they are considering the costs and risks of each contract, including the costs of recycling Omaha’s trash cans and bins. Council member Aimee Melton said she is talking to her northwest Omaha constituents about which contract they prefer.