Omaha, Nebraska, to try new collection bid format

Omaha, Nebraska, to try new collection bid format

Omaha’s next solid waste collection contract is expected to go out for bid by July 2018.

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March 21, 2018
Edited by Dan Sandoval

The city of Omaha, Nebraska, will release a bid later in 2018 that seeks to have a single operator provide for the collection of solid waste, recyclables and yard waste. The contract, while still in development, will require automated trucks and covered, wheeled carts.

The city’s current contract, which expires in 2020, is with Houston-based Waste Management Inc.. The contract has been in effect since 2006.

In a news release announcing the upcoming contract, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, says, “We don’t believe any company will bid if we don’t move to the current industry standard of service.”

The plan being formed is to deliver three 96-gallon carts to every residential customer, one for garbage, one for yard waste and the third for recyclables. There will be no cost to homeowners. After a 90-day trial, customers can exchange the large cart for a smaller cart. Customers may also opt out of one or more carts.

In support of the contract, Omaha indicates that public surveys conducted during the past year by Long Beach, California-based SCS Engineers found that 9.4 out of 10 households can be served with a 96-gallon cart.

Another change in the next contract will be the amount of yard waste that can be left at the curb each week. The current contract with Waste Management allows for year-round unlimited yard waste. “This is not sustainable,” says Mayor Stothert. “There is a significant cost to taxpayers for unlimited yard waste collection, and it’s not sustainable in a long-term contract.”

The request for bid (RFB) is expected to require all bidders to include two bids for yard waste collection: one bid for separate collection and a second bid for co-collection with trash. “The cost of yard waste collection will certainly be a factor as we select a new contractor,” says Mayor Stothert. A decision on yard waste collections (separate or co-collection) will be made later. The collection contract does not include the disposal of waste, only the collection processes.

The RFB also will require bidders to have a modern fleet of vehicles that use an alternative fuel such as compressed natural gas.

Waste Management currently picks up waste at 145,000 households on a weekly basis. The current cost is $9.19 per customer, per month, or a total of about $16 million annually, which is paid from the city’s general fund. The next contract is expected to cost significantly more, possibly double to an annual cost of $30 million to $32 million. The 10-year contract will have two five-year renewal options.

According to one source, Waste Management says it would be willing to exit its existing contract early because of a challenging situation the company finds itself in stemming from unfavorable contract points.

Nebraska state statute requires cities of the metropolitan class to provide “basic city services” at no additional cost to taxpayers, which includes solid waste collection. Omaha is the only metropolitan class city in the state.

There will be a mandatory pre-bid meeting in June or July 2018. Bids will be due in August or September, and a recommendation on a new contractor will likely be made to the Omaha City Council by the end of 2018.

After the council awards the contract, it will take from nine to 15 months to phase in the new collection system.