The transition is a necessary move because the contract for the current waste hauler, Waste Pro, expires at the end of 2018. While Waste Pro provided service for Peachtree Corners for the last five years, City Manager Brian Johnson says that “change was inevitable.” According to Johnson, if the city would have stayed with Waste Pro, prices would not only go up from their current rate, they would have been higher than the rates offered by Waste Management. Johnson says that, “the current Waste Pro rates, by their own admission, are unsustainable for a long period of time,” and he wanted to find an option that the City could utilize for many years. As the world’s largest waste hauling provider, Waste Management was able to offer the most compelling package for the best price.
While Johnson explains that the decision was not based solely on pricing, Waste Management did have the lowest rates of the four proposals presented to the city. For standard services, residents will pay an annual cost of $178.56 that will be billed on the resident’s Gwinnett County property tax bill. This equates to a monthly cost of $14.88 and a total increase of only $3.38.
Part of Waste Management’s package includes providing the city with two brand new collection vehicles that run on Compressed Natural Gas, the cleanest burning transportation fuel available. These vehicles will be used exclusively in Peachtree Corners, are quieter than normal waste collection trucks, and have no motor oil leaks. Johnson also explains that “Waste Management’s maintenance program is really robust,” citing the ability to track where the trucks are at all times and see what garbage carts the trucks have lifted each day. Johnson sees this as an opportunity to help identify common problems by bringing clarity to a variety of situations.
Some residents, including City Council Member Eric Christ, were disappointed that Waste Management will not provide curbside glass recycling. Johnson explains that none of the four proposals included this service in the bid and that many waste haulers across the country are eliminating this service completely or charging a large price for it. While Waste Management did offer a single-stream curbside pickup option, Council Member Christ commented on community app NextDoor, “if we required the solid waste vendor to collect glass as part of a single-stream curbside recycling program, the monthly cost to residents would be significantly higher and a major portion of all recycling would continue to go to the landfill due to the broken glass issue.” For those who still want to recycle their glass, Waste Management owns a transfer station landfill within the corporate limits of Peachtree Corners that residents can use as a drop-off point. Johnson says they are looking for a second drop-off location, but one has yet to be determined.
Garbage collection days will also change for most residents. Instead of a city-wide collection on Monday, the entire city will be divided into five collection zones, and each zone will have its own pickup day. Starting in mid-December, Waste Management will provide two new garbage carts to each resident: one for waste and one for recycling. The deliveries will be completed by the end of the year, and Waste Pro, the previous waste hauler, will pick up their carts after their contract expires.
For bulk item pickup, the city will operate on a “pay as you throw” program where residents with large items (mattresses, couches, etc.), can call in the morning and have the item picked up that day for $25. Yard waste collection will continue as a subscription-based program costing $6.25 per month. The subscription includes up to 10 bags of yard waste to be picked up each trash day and can run from January to June and July to December. This will help minimize the regular annual cost of the garbage collection as a whole.
Editor’s Note: This article based on my recent podcast with Brian Johnson and a previous release. The relevant portion in this takes place at 47:00 minutes in.