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A message concerning the Zero Waste Franchise award to California Waste Solutions
I am pleased to have led the effort to award the City of Oakland $1 Billion franchise for recycling and garbage collection to Oakland-based California Waste Solutions (Cal Waste) marking the first time in a 100 years that the right to collect Oakland’s waste was competitively bid.
Oakland Grown & Green
Headquartered in West Oakland, Cal Waste is a family-owned, union business that currently handles half of Oakland’s recycling and commercial organic food waste. Cal Waste (also known as CWS) beat out their competitor Waste Management of Alameda County (WM) in a bid that will charge lower rates, provide the highest level of diversion from landfills and add an estimated 100 permanent jobs to West Oakland’s economic eco-system.
In addition to offering a lower cost for rate-payers, the Cal Waste proposal included more services that will help mitigate Oakland's illegal dumping challenge. Cal Waste’s proposal includes several key services sought by the Council at no additional cost to rate payers including:
- Bulky item pick up for apartment dwellers,
- “On sight” illegal dumping removal
- Green waste services at multi-family units
- Commercial organic waste partnership with CiviCorps
- Use of the EBMUD digester to process valuable food waste - converting methane gas into natural gas to provide power to the Port of Oakland and beyond.
Turning Green to Greenbacks
The Council’s unanimous decision to award the franchise agreement means real savings for consumers AND the added benefit of job creation for Oakland residents and youth.
Given that there has been no increase in garbage rates in recent years, garbage bills were guaranteed to go up considerably no matter which company got the contract. The CWS bid is about half as much as first anticipated by staff and about $23 less than Waste Management's final offer for residential accounts and $1,200 for commercial accounts – a real savings for rate payers.
In an agreement with the local unions, CWS will retain Waste Management employees to continue servicing Oakland’s residential and commercial properties. The franchise agreement also includes a partnership with CiviCorps to provide training and a pathway to good-paying jobs for some of our hardest to employ youth, such as high school dropouts and those re-entering our communities after serving time.
CWS will also need to expand its workforce as it completes development of its new state-of-the-art transfer station at the former Oakland Army Base. CWS executives estimate 200+ construction and 100 permanent jobs will be generated by this project alone. And, unlike its competitor, CWS agrees to abide by the Community Benefits Agreement, local hire policies, use the West Oakland Job Resource Center and will keep its administrative and call center offices in Oakland.
Summary of Benefits
- 100 Oakland jobs retained
- All Waste Management Oakland franchise employees retained
- 300 jobs created
- New Natural Gas vehicle fleet to improve air quality
- Job training and Employment opportunities for dis-advantaged youth and re-entry residents through CiviCorps – a highly respected West Oakland-based non-profit
- Increased diversion from landfill
- Increased removal of illegal dumping citywide
- Green bin and bulky item pick up from multi-family units at no additional cost
- Partnership with EBMUD means lowered water costs and increased environmental benefits
When will the franchise agreement start?
The Agreement is for 10 years beginning July 1, 2015.
Why did City staff recommend Waste Management over California Waste Solutions?
Despite the fact that the WM proposal included higher costs for rate payers and increased liability and risk to the City, the staff recommendation was to award all 3 components of the franchise agreement (Mixed Materials, Recycling and Landfill) to the incumbent. It appears staff's recommendation was based in fear that CWS would not be able to secure the necessary equipment to expand service citywide by the 7/1/2015 contract start date. This time pressure is the result of numerous delays in moving the RFP process forward in a timely manner. In most surrounding jurisdictions, contract negotiations take less than 6 months; in Oakland this process has been on-going for nearly 2 years.
To mitigate any potential challenges, Cal Waste has letters of commitment from its vendors that provide assurance that the bins and trucks will begin arriving by May 2015. Further, Cal Waste has entered into an agreement with Republic Services – the nation’s second largest waste provider, to provide back-up support for billing and collections should anything go wrong.
Will CWS expand its current facility in West Oakland to fulfill this award?
No. Cal Waste has entered agreements with EBMUD for use of their property and are seeking additional parking and facilities in East Oakland on a temporary basis until their new yard and facility are constructed at the former Oakland Army Base.
When will Cal Waste relocate to the Army Base?
Construction is expected to be completed in 2016 – about 6 to 8 months after the start of the franchise agreement.
Will jobs for union workers be lost? No. The Council’s policy mandates that all employees who are currently working the Oakland franchise be transferred to Cal Waste unless they choose to remain employed with Waste Management. There is no job losses contemplated by this action and in fact, Cal Waste has also agreed to keep Call Center jobs in Oakland. Waste Management had previously outsourced those jobs to Washington state.
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