City Introduces Measure to Approve New Landfill Contract

(September 27, 2010)

State-of-the-art facility minimizes environmental impact and saves money

The Department of the Environment has filed a resolution for introduction at the Board of Supervisors authorizing San Francisco to enter into a contract with Recology--a San Francisco-based, employee owned company--to landfill the city's non-recycled refuse. San Francisco's trash will go to Recology's Ostrom Road landfill once the city has reached the contracted capacity at the Altamont landfill where the city's trash currently goes, likely around 2015. The resolution is slated for official introduction at the Board of Supervisors' October 5 meeting.

"This is a good deal for San Francisco and for the environment," said SF Environment Director Melanie Nutter. "Ostrom Road is a state-of-the-art facility that employs industry best practices, and the price is dramatically lower than the competition. This will help us maintain reasonable refuse collection costs as we move toward zero waste."

With all costs factored in, the Ostrom Road bid was 24 percent below the competing bid, which will save San Francisco ratepayers up to $125 million over the life of the contract. San Francisco selected Ostrom Road through an extensive, multi-year public process starting in 2006, which included numerous public meetings, requests for qualifications, proposals, and interviews.

Ostrom Road Landfill, located in Yuba County, was the first landfill in California to meet new US EPA's regulations for landfill liners and construction standards. Methane gas is captured on site and turned into electricity.

San Francisco's refuse will travel to Ostrom Road by rail in custom-designed, sealed containers, which will be loaded on freight cars in the East Bay. One train load will carry the equivalent of 162 long-haul transfer trucks of the type used now to bring refuse to Altamont. Using rail will eliminate over one million truck miles on congested Bay Area freeways, reduce fuel consumption by 100,000 gallons, and reduce carbon emissions by 500,000 pounds each year.

The landfill disposal contract is for 5 million tons or ten years, whichever comes first. San Francisco currently sends about 1,400 tons to the landfill each day, but that amount is expected to decrease over the coming years because of San Francisco's successful waste prevention, recycling and composting programs.

San Francisco is now recycling 77 percent of its waste stream, the highest diversion rate of any city in the nation. The figures compiled by the city's Environment Department for 2008 show that San Francisco diverted just over 1.6 million tons of material--double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge--through recycling, composting and re-use. Only 560,000 tons went to landfill, the lowest disposal on record.