Anthony Verreos, stands across the street of Lathrop and Tunnel Ave as a Recology truck drives by on Friday, July 10, 2015. (Michael Ares/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Recology, Waste Management at odds over landfill agreement

Trash hauler Recology is on the verge of signing a lucrative landfill agreement with San Francisco, but the company who currently receives The City’s waste filed a lawsuit to derail the deal, on top of calling for an environmental review of the plan to truck refuse farther away.

Adding to the political intrigue, the proposed Recology deal was recently revised by the Deborah Raphael, director of the Department of Environment, to terms which no longer require approval by the Board of Supervisors — a fact Waste Management is crying foul over as it turns to the courts.

The company filed a lawsuit Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court alleging the process was rigged for Recology.

Raphael announced the revised agreement Wednesday during the board’s Budget and Finance Committee hearing.

She said the process was “done with the utmost integrity.”

The dispute between the two companies stretches back to 2007 when The City began to plan for the current landfill contract’s expiration in January with Waste Management’s Altamont landfill.

In 2012, the board approved 10-year, $112 million garbage contract with Recology to haul waste by rail 130 miles away to its Yuba County landfill was scrapped amid three lawsuits alleging improper bidding and inadequate environmental review.

The proposed contract is the alternative to the rail deal. Recology would truck the waste to its Solano County landfill 155 roundtrip miles away, about 40 miles longer than to the Altamont Landfill. There could be no more than 50 truck trips per day, six days a week.

Just last month, Raphael sent a letter to the board asking for its approval of the contract for more than 10 years. But subsequently it was revised to nine years and will no longer require board approval.

When asked to address the change, Raphael said: “It allows the department to sign and get the contract moving so that we can make the deadline of the end of the year and ensure rate stability because we are not hanging out there with not a full contract and it allows the board to come back and weigh in sooner.”

The proposed agreement includes a six year extension, which would require a vote by the board.
Waste Management officials allege the contract was shortened to avoid the board’s vote and scrutiny from budget analyst Harvey Rose, as well as to possibly prevent taking the issue to the ballot.

During the hearing, Supervisor Eric Mar said that “the two elephants in the room are two very powerful entities.”

He referred to the “very influential” Recology and to Waste Management as the “Texas-based large corporation that has at times, quote-unquote, bullied and intimidated Oakland city council members and others.”

The board is still expected to vote on whether the deal needs to undergo environmental review.
The appeal was initially scheduled for a July 28 vote but with the agreement changes the appeal vote is now expected in September, after the deal is signed by the Department of Environment this month.

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