By Greg Ellison
(Jan. 7, 2021) The annual cost for trash service in Ocean Pines is set to jump nearly $50 annually after the Board of Directors voted unanimously last month for a contract renewal with current provider Republic Services.
During the Dec. 19 board meeting, the directors renewed a three-year agreement with Republic Services that would increase monthly charges from $20.27 to $24.20 for twice-weekly trash removal and once-weekly recycling pickup.
General Manager John Viola said the rate increase had been building over the last several years, since Republic was restricted to a maximum price boost of 3 percent annually under its 2017 contract.
“We would have gotten an increase two years ago, but because we had a contract, people didn’t see an escalation,” he said.
Viola said the refuse industry was hit with higher costs in 2018 after China outlawed importing two-dozen categories of solid waste materials, including plastics and paper products.
“They lost all that two years ago when China stopped buying this stuff,” he said.
In January 2018, China’s Operation National Sword banned the importation of the majority of plastics and various recyclable materials. Prior to this policy, for the past several decades, China was the endpoint for roughly half of global recyclables.
Viola said waste haulers lost significant revenue for raw recyclable materials following the policy change in China.
“There’s no market for it, so it’s kind of a double whammy,” he said.
To further exacerbate the financial problem, last month China announced a ban on importing all solid waste materials starting this January.
Despite waste haulers seeing revenues from recycles reduce, Chesapeake Waste Management submitted a significantly lower bid for the Ocean Pines contract.
The price proposed by Chesapeake Waste at $19.28 monthly was both less than the current or pending charges from Republic Services.
The bid from Chesapeake Waste represents a nearly $12 annual savings for residential pickup over the approved increase from Republic Services.
During the Board meeting in November, the directors authorized Viola and OPA staff to negotiate and finalize contract terms with the only two of eight waste vendors who responded to a RFP for trash and recycle services.
Viola said after further discussions with Republic, which was awarded the past two contracts starting in 2014, the current provider revised the proposed rate to $24.20.
“They lowered it a little bit,” he said.
By contrast to Republic’s residential charges, the new contract includes lower rates for Ocean Pines facilities.
The new contract includes an annual cost of $25,143 for trash removal at OPA-owned buildings, down from the current price of $26,525. By contrast, Chesapeake Waste had bid $30,840 to collect refuse from association properties.
Ocean Pines Attorney Jeremy Tucker is currently reviewing the renewed contract with Republic Services.
Ocean Pines residents are not required to contract with Republic Services for trash and recycles, with alternative options including self-hauling to the Berlin landfill.
Viola said as the pending price jump was anticipated, along with an overall strong track record by Republic over the past six years, the recommendation was made to renew terms despite the lower rate proposed by Chesapeake
“It’s unfortunate that it’s a little more of an increase than we expected,” he said.