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Negotiations could begin soon on city’s long term recycling deal

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 by Michael Kanin

According to one of the parties working on a plan to handle the City of Austin’s long-term recycling contract, discussions on that deal could begin “any day.” Kerry Getter, CEO of Balcones Resources, told In Fact Daily that while his firm had opted out of discussions on the short-term option, it was ready to go forward with discussions on the long-term deal.


Getter said his firm had informed Solid Waste Services Director Bob Gedert early in the negotiation process that it would not be the ideal choice for the short-term recycling deal won by Texas Disposal Systems earlier this month.


“We were not really in a position to provide the city with a (short-term) service that we could feel good about and they could feel good about in a manner that made sense,” he said.


Balcones’ hesitation left Texas Disposal and Greenstar as the only competitors for the stop-gap agreement. Each of those firms has had recent struggles with the city.


As the future of recycling in Austin continues to play itself out, the city’s Solid Waste Services department is poised to take the next step in the information gathering stage of what will become its master plan. For that, it will partner with the Capital Area Council of Governments to conduct a survey that should help both organizations develop a fuller picture of solid waste collection in the area.


Getter noted that Balcones was “pumped” for its opportunity to show Austin decision makers the latest version of its concept for recycling in the city over the long-term. “We’ve been very focused on that,” he said. “We’ve put together something we’re very excited about…that’s several steps further toward the city’s zero waste initiative.”


He added that he felt that a Balcones facility would be state of the art and that it would “function very effectively. It’s something that the city and the entire region can be proud of,” he said.


Though he was reluctant to give out too much more detail on the plan, Getter did say that there would be a “significant education aspect associated with what we are doing.” This, he said, would include a classroom and associated curriculum that the firm was working on.


Meanwhile, the Solid Waste Services department is scheduled to ask the City Council for permission to conclude an agreement with the Capital Area Council of Governments at the Aug. 26 Council meeting. That deal will allow the groups to partner on an information-gathering effort to detail the full picture of who collects what sort of trash in the Capital area.


The Council of Governments is planning to do an inventory of all the waste management operations and their capacity in the area. The study will collect information on how much waste is generated, processed, and diverted from landfills.


Gedert said that the agreement will be an efficient way for his department to “collect…information (from) throughout the region’s ‘wasteshed.’ In order to develop a comprehensive master plan, it is extremely critical to gather proper waste flow information.”


If approved, the Solid Waste Services department will kick in $15,000 in order to fund the administration of the study. The idea was blessed by the Solid Waste Advisory Commission at its most recent meeting.

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