Tag Archives: recycling

Santa Rosa taps Recology as new garbage hauler 

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Low rates have long led to big headaches for The Ratto Group, the dominant waste hauler in the county, serving eight of the nine cities plus the unincorporated areas.

The company, founded by Jim Ratto, has been repeatedly criticized for cutting corners in Santa Rosa in ways that resulted in poor customer service, dangerous working conditions for workers, low recycling levels, and an aging fleet of trucks that didn’t live up to its contract with the city.

The curbside collection rates that most Santa Rosa residents pay are set to soar nearly 60 percent under a proposed 15-year contract the city has negotiated with the San Francisco-based garbage company buying its current hauler, The Ratto Group.

The city this week released details of the agreement it has struck with Recology to be the exclusive provider of the garbage, recycling and organic waste pickup services to approximately 55,000 residential and commercial accounts beginning Jan. 1.

If approved by the City Council, the deal is expected to generate $49 million in annual revenues for Recology, or $735 million over the life of the contract. The company would pay the city a 14 percent franchise fee, which would pump $7 million annually into the city’s coffers, or $105 million over the life of the agreement.

The report is the first official confirmation that Recology, one of the largest refuse providers on the West Coast, has survived a competitive and secretive selection process to ink a tentative deal with the city, a fact first reported by The Press Democrat earlier this month.

Read more at: Santa Rosa taps Recology as new garbage hauler | The Press Democrat

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Windsor chooses new garbage company, rejecting its current hauler

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After months of back and forth, political opposition, a lawsuit and threats of more lawsuits, Windsor once has again chosen a garbage hauler — for the third time since May.

The saga represents a grueling first example of the process that other local cities, including Santa Rosa, are embarking on as they renew or re-evaluate curbside garbage contracts, most of which are with the same hauler, the Santa-Rosa-based Ratto Group, which is up for sale to a San Francisco company.

For many communities, the garbage contracts are among the most lucrative deals they hand out.

In Windsor, the deal is worth more than $56 million in revenue over 10 years to the company that came out on top Wednesday night.

The Town Council voted 4-1 to award the contract to a different hauler, Sonoma County Resource Recovery, owned by the San Rafael-based Garden City Group, Marin Sanitary Service Group and its president, Kevin Walbridge.

The decision dealt another rejection to the town’s current hauler, Windsor Refuse and Recycling — co-owned by the Ratto Group — which recently sued the town and claimed the bidding process was unfair.

Read more at: Windsor chooses new garbage company, rejecting its current hauler | The Press Democrat

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After reversal, Windsor awards garbage contract to Green Waste, its first choice

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The high stakes question about which company would get Windsor’s garbage contract was finally settled Tuesday with the award going again to Green Waste Recovery Inc.

The 3-1 vote came a month after the Town Council first awarded, then rescinded a contract with the San Jose-based company because of political and legal hurdles associated with its proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station.

The final answer Tuesday was to fall back on its first decision after company representatives said they were looking to locate a transfer station closer to Windsor.“

We will not be proposing a transfer facility in Petaluma,” company spokeswoman Emily Finn said. An announcement about a new location is expected within weeks, she said. “On Day 1 we will have facilities north of Petaluma for recyclables.”

The prospect of garbage trucks on Highway 101 making a long trek from Windsor to San Jose — a distance of more than 100 miles — was one of the concerns raised by Councilman Dominic Foppoli, the lone vote against a contract with Green Waste.

But the lower residential rates and environmental practices of Green Waste earned it majority support.

Read more at: After reversal, Windsor awards garbage contract to Green Waste, its first choice | The Press Democrat

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Windsor to reconsider the town’s $52 million garbage contract 

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Just when it seemed Windsor had a new garbage hauling company for the next 10 years, the Town Council has had a change of heart, upending a multimillion dollar deal it struck last month over one of the town’s most basic municipal functions.

The move reflects political and legal hurdles facing a proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station proposed by the new operator and comes as Santa Rosa weighs its options for a new garbage contract, one of the most lucrative services that local cities outsource.

The Windsor Council on Tuesday night voted 4-1 to reconsider the contract it awarded to Green Waste Recovery Inc., citing unresolved issues over the company’s proposed Petaluma transfer station, including its proximity to residences.

As a result, four other companies that initially bid for the contract will have another shot at hauling Windsor’s commercial and residential refuse and reaping at least $52 million in revenue over 10 years.

Read more at: Windsor to reconsider the town’s $52 million garbage contract | The Press Democrat

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Oakland law firm demands Windsor review garbage contract proposals 

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

An environmental law firm that helped shut down Sonoma County’s composting operation is now taking aim at efforts by Windsor and Santa Rosa to pick a new garbage company to serve their residents.

The Oakland-based firm Lozeau Drury last week sent an 83-page letter to Windsor demanding a full environmental review of the various proposals the town has received for its 10-year garbage contract.

Attorney Richard Drury, in a letter received just a few hours before the Windsor Town Council was set to meet April 19 to pick a new garbage hauler, argued the town had failed to review the impacts on air quality, greenhouse gases and neighbors of a planned facility in southwest Santa Rosa.“There are few decisions that a town can make that have more direct environmental impacts than the determination of how to handle its garbage,” Drury wrote in his letter.

The town had concluded no environmental review was needed. In light of the letter, town attorney Robin Donoghue urged a delay until the town could review it and respond appropriately.

The move drew a sharp rebuke from Councilwoman and Mayor Debra Fudge, who viewed it more as a bid to influence the town’s selection process than protect the environment.

“I saw the CEQA letter as an effort from someone associated with one of the haulers to try to blow up our process, and I’m not happy about it,” Fudge said.

Read more at: Oakland law firm demands Windsor review garbage contract proposals | The Press Democrat

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Republic’s Sonoma County MRF (Material Recovery Facility) expansion makes room for new material lines 

Cole Rosengren, WASTE DIVE

These facilities and many others are part of the ongoing trend that has made single-stream material recovery facilities predominant in the U.S. Recently announced advances in artificial intelligence indicate this shift could accelerate in coming years with a move toward greater efficiency and potentially less need for human labor.

Republic Services recently announced an expansion of the Sonoma County Recycling Center in Petaluma, CA that increases capacity to 200 tons per day.

The facility grew to 38,000-square-feet to accommodate a new processing system from the CP Group. This made room for multiple new material lines, a baler and a bale storage area to protect sorted material from the weather.

A multi-year analysis from the county and multiple municipalities pointed to self-haul material, commercial dry waste and construction and demolition waste as three areas to focus on. As a result, the facility now has a new in-feed conveyor for commercial cardboard, mixed paper, containers, film and plastics and a hopper-fed C&D system with sorting stations.

Read more at: Republic’s Sonoma County MRF expansion makes room for new material lines | Waste Dive

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Single-bin recycling frustrates California’s goal to divert trash from landfills

James Dunn, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

As single-stream recycling evolved, “people got more and more confused,” Salyers said. “They would throw things in that weren’t” recyclable. “We’re trying to tell them what they can put in their blue cans.”

Recycling sounds like an ideal solution to reduce mountains of trash. Facing business and legal issues, local recycling efforts are also plagued by technical and market problems.

Trash typically contains nearly two-thirds of its weight in organic material that could be composted or glass, metal, plastic or paper that can be recycled. Nearly 25 years ago, California passed law to divert recyclable material out of garbage. Some of that effort worked, but recyclables separated by businesses and consumers into blue bins often contain trash that contaminates the good stuff, reducing its value in markets for used plastic, glass, metal and paper.

Sonoma County’s trash volume dropped from 375,000 tons in 2007 to 263,000 tons in 2014, still nearly half a billion pounds. At that rate of more than 1,000 pounds per person per year, the 1.3 million people in Sonoma, Solano, Marin and Napa counties toss away more than 1.3 billion pounds of stuff a year.

The Ratto Group, owned by James Ratto, does trash pickup and recycling in Sonoma County with subsidiary companies that sprawl across the region under its North Bay Corporation: Redwood Empire Disposal in Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa Recycling and Collection, Petaluma Refuse and Recycling, Rohnert Park Disposal, Windsor Refuse and Recycling, and Novato Disposal.

Marin Sanitary Service, operated by the Garbarino family, operates from headquarters in San Rafael. Napa Recycling and Waste and Napa County Recycling and Waste serve that county. Sister company Upper Valley Disposal and Recycling serves Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Garaventa Enterprises serves Solano County.

An audit by R3 Consulting Group for the city of Santa Rosa presented last year alleged that Ratto’s company did not meet minimum levels of a 45 percent diversion of recyclables, and operated trucks and a recycling facility that fell short of acceptable standards.

The city contract with Ratto expires at the end of 2017 and brought the company about $27 million a year.

“The company’s two material recovery facilities are approximately 15 years old, antiquated, and are not able to process the incoming recyclable materials to current industry standards,” the R3 report said. “There is no effective means for metering the incoming materials,” and “we observed numerous rats in the facility,” far more than staff observed in comparable facilities.

One facility was ordered closed, and Ratto Group faces potential fines that could reach $14 million.

Read more at: Single-bin recycling frustrates California’s goal to divert trash from landfills | The North Bay Business Journal

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Five bidders for Santa Rosa’s garbage contract

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Five companies are bidding to take over Santa Rosa’s lucrative garbage contract, including the San Francisco firm buying the county’s dominant garbage hauler.

Nine companies had expressed interest in bidding for the exclusive right to collect garbage, recycling and yard waste from Santa Rosa homes and businesses.

But by the time Monday’s 3:30 p.m. deadline arrived, just five companies had submitted bids to the city, said Gloria Hurtado, deputy city manager.

The contract held by The Ratto Group since 2003 runs out at the end of 2017.

“I think five is a really good number,” Hurtado said. “There are some national companies and some more local groups, so I think it’s a good combination.”

The bidders include Recology, the San Francisco-based company which last week agreed to purchase Ratto’s entire North Bay operation, including contracts for eight of the nine Sonoma County cities and its unincorporated areas, plus Novato and West Marin.

Another is Waste Management, the massive Houston-based company that served Santa Rosa for 33 years as Empire Waste Management before James Ratto, using a combination of low rates and political influence, convinced the city to turn the contract over to him. Waste Management subsequently got out of all its contracts in the county.

Also in the hunt are Green Waste Recovery of San Jose, which serves a number of communities in Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Cruz and Monterey counties; Waste Connections Inc., a Toronto-based company with operations in 37 states and Canada; and Sonoma County Resource Recovery, a new partnership about which Hurtado had no additional information, but which sources say includes Marin County garbage interests.

City staff are reviewing the bids, and will schedule interviews with the companies, visit their existing operations and then present their findings to the City Council sometime in April.

Read more at: Five bidders for Santa Rosa’s garbage contract | The Press Democrat

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Santa Rosa-based Ratto Group selling North Bay garbage empire to Recology of San Francisco

Kevin McCallum, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Buyer: Recology
Headquarters: San Francisco
Founded: 1921
Employees: 3,000 (est.)
Owner: 100 percent employee owned

James Ratto, owner of Sonoma County’s dominant but embattled garbage hauler, is selling his waste and recycling empire to a San Francisco-based rival in a multimillion dollar deal that promises to reshape the region’s garbage business.

Ratto on Friday agreed to sell his companies, which handle garbage and recycling services in eight of Sonoma County’s nine cities as well as parts of north Marin County, to Recology, one of the largest solid waste firms on the West Coast.

“He’s getting out of the garbage and recycling business,” Ratto spokesman Eric Koenigshofer said Saturday. “It’s a major event in the history of Sonoma County.”

The deal sets in motion several months of review and calls for Recology to take over Ratto’s entire North Bay garbage operation, including its Santa Rosa recycling facilities, dozens of trucks and a workforce of 440 employees.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It would bring to a close the remarkable career of an Italian immigrant who began collecting garbage cans on the streets of San Francisco at the age of 16 and through tenacity and competitive drive became rich building and selling solid waste businesses in the North Bay.

Read more at: Santa Rosa-based Ratto Group selling North Bay garbage empire to Recology of San Francisco | The North Bay Business Journal

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Regulators turn up heat on ‘illegal’ North Bay Corp. recycling site

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Regulators appear to be losing patience with Sonoma County’s largest garbage hauler for its continued use of unpermitted Santa Rosa recycling facilities, hiking fines on the company and referring it to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution.

Sonoma County health officials are threatening to levy fines of up to $5,000 per day on North Bay Corp. for operating two recycling facilities on Standish Avenue in defiance of a cease-and-desist order that is now nearly 16 months old.

The company argues it would be “an impossibility” to shut down both facilities because it would prevent the company from picking up curbside recycling.

The beefed up enforcement follows an inspection last month by state waste regulators who noted longstanding problems at the facilities and instructed local officials to turn up the heat on the hauler.

Officials at CalRecycle last week said “immediate enforcement action is required” to address the “illegal operations” on the property, warning that “further extensions to cease operation and correct violations are not appropriate.”

Read more at: Regulators turn up heat on ‘illegal’ North Bay Corp. recycling site | The Press Democrat

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