El Cerrito has hired Sacramento-based R3 Consulting Group to help solve the conundrum that the city’s successful, free recycling program is cutting East Bay Sanitary Company’s revenues from paid residential trash collection.
With the city’s curbside recycling system improved in past years, more residential waste has ended up in curbside recycling bins, enabling residents to move to smaller, lower-cost landfill trash containers for their non-recyclables.
The council approved hiring R3 Monday night for $46,000, to be split between the city and East Bay Sanitary (EBS). The study will determine proposed 2012 trash rates in November and recommend a new formula for setting future rates.
The issue arose last December when the city raised its curbside pick-up rates beyond a five-year-old formula negotiated with the trash-hauling company after the staff and company projected that the pattern of switching to smaller, lower-rate waste cans would reduce the firm's collection revenues by $25,000 to $50,000 this year.
“EBS has requested that the City address the migration issue to keep the company solvent,” the Environmental Services staff reported.
A new approach will have to ensure the waste pick-up service remains profitable and still encourage customers to recycle more, which free curbside recycling service now does.
Out of three consulting firms responding to request for proposals in May, the staff recommended R3 based on its pledge that principal owner William Schoen, already familiar with the city’s waste management system, will “hit the ground running” and do 80 percent of the work. R3 also proposed a more precise project approach than competitors, staff said.