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No rest for contractors hauling city waste, recycling

Thursday, April 2, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Council gave the official nod of approval last week for short-term contracts for collection, processing and disposal of trash, as well as recycling services and disposal of brush and compostable materials, to Central Waste and Recycling and Texas Disposal Systems. The two contracts, which total $534,000, will be in place for up to six months. The two companies had already been doing the job since Feb. 29 under authorization from the city manager.

On Feb. 20, Council rejected a short-term contract with the city’s previous contractor, Waste Management of Texas, primarily because that company continues to operate and expand the Austin Community Landfill in Northeast Austin. When the city asked the company if it could continue to perform its services using a different landfill, Waste Management declined.

Both TDS and Central Waste and Recycling perform essential services during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the larger company, TDS, is considerably busier. According to attorney Michael Whellan, who represents TDS, “They are swamped right now.” The two companies were pressed into service at the end of February, taking over services previously performed by Waste Management.

“Over the course of approximately four days, TDS rapidly deployed and successfully delivered over 225 individual containers to dozens of city facility locations scattered across the city,” said Whellan. TDS is one of the companies seeking new employees, according to its Twitter feed.

Mike Mnoian, president of Central Waste and Recycling, told the Austin Monitor that the city contract was giving them a little bit more business at a time when some of their other customers – restaurants in particular – have closed. Some customers, he said, only need to have their garbage picked up once every five days, instead of every two days.

He said the contract with the city, which involves servicing 40 service containers, is “a good little bump of business for us. We didn’t get the bulk of it, but that’s OK. Anything helps.” Mnoian expressed confidence that none of his business had been lost on a permanent basis. “Things will come back,” he said.

According to a memo from Deputy Procurement Officer Shawn Willett, the city issued a solicitation for a new long-term contract on March 9, with responses due March 26.

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