Landfill Contract set for Hearing at Board

(February 3, 2011)

New deal will save ratepayers $130 million, and reduce greenhouse gases

San Francisco--The Department of the Environment's resolution authorizing San Francisco to enter into a contract with Recology to landfill the city's non-recycled refuse is scheduled for hearing at the Budget and Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors, 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, February 9. Under the proposal, San Francisco's trash would go to Recology's Ostrom Road landfill in Yuba County once the city has reached the contracted capacity at the Altamont landfill near Livermore, where the city's trash currently goes, likely around 2015. Recology is a San Francisco-based, employee owned company.

"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 could save San Francisco ratepayers over $130 million over the life of the contract. This includes a $2 million reduction in city government waste disposal costs, which would free needed funding for other city programs.

The new landfill agreement also has significant environmental advantages over current operations, in which San Francisco's refuse is hauled by truck to Altamont. Under the proposal, 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. This will eliminate up to 10 million truck miles on congested Bay Area freeways, reduce fuel consumption by up to 1 million gallons, and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by up to 5 million pounds. One train load will carry the equivalent of 162 long-haul transfer trucks.

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. Landfill gas is captured on site and turned into electricity.

The landfill disposal contract is for 5 million tons or ten years, whichever comes first. San Francisco currently sends about 1,000 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. Statistics 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. In 2010, only 378,000 tons went to the Altamont landfill, the lowest disposal on record.