Concord, the capital city of New Hampshire, has approved a 10-year solid waste management contract with Casella Waste Systems. The contract starts on July 1, 2024, and involves a phased transition to automated collection and tote usage.
The transition may affect the city’s purple bags used for PAYT waste collection.
The existing contract with Casella includes no additional cost to collect recyclable materials. However, the new contract comes with a hefty price tag for recycling. The cost of recycling will increase to $100 per ton due to volatility in the recycling market. Meanwhile, the cost of waste disposal will rise from approximately $70 per ton to about $100 per ton. Disposal costs will be $70.51 per ton next year and rise to $90 per ton the following year.
The new waste contract adds ~$1M to the 2025 budget, per GSA’s Adam Clark. The increase in collection rates is due to fuel and labor costs. The Casella contract for curbside municipal solid waste collection starts at $875,000 for the first year through negotiated proposals. Over the course of 10 years, the rate gradually increases to around $1,500,000. The totes will be provided to the city by Casella.
Under the new contract, Casella will transport the city’s waste to the Wheelabrator waste-to-energy facility in Penacook, owned by WIN Waste Innovations, rather than the North Country Environmental Services landfill in Bethlehem, which is over 80 miles away.
The contract mandates the city to adopt an automated collection system by July 1, 2028, after a two-year pilot starting on or before July 1, 2026, proposed by Casella.
During the pilot program, four trucks will be designated for curbside waste collection from over 12,000 residences within the city. Residents will continue using the purple PAYT bags during the pilot phase.
Although the automated collection system is seen as the best way forward, concerns have been raised about its efficiency in recycling. The new system entails using two totes – a 94-gallon tote for recyclables and a 64-gallon bin for trash – and concerns about “abuse with putting non-recyclables in recyclable containers.”
Concerns or Struggles
Additionally, there are concerns about the functionality of the automated collection truck during the winter season when it comes to picking up the bins. Councilor Byron Champlin said that non-traditional houses would need to find a level spot to place the containers, as the city has berms that are around two and a half feet high instead of a grassy curb during the winter months.
Chip Chesley, the director of General Services, assured councilors that he could resolve the concerns with adjustments and refinements.
He pointed out that automated collection has functioned efficiently in other cities like Boston, which also has narrow streets and similar snowfall rates. The solid waste committee prefers the current Casella contract, expiring June 1, 2024, for low regional prices.
Concord Greenspace President, Meredith Cooley, supports waste-to-energy as the better option for solid waste management.
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