Recycling of commercial waste is a step closer to reality after Mayor Harriet Rosenthal and the Board of Trustees directed Village Manager Kent Street and his staff to begin the bidding process at Monday’ Committee of the Whole meeting.
Though the Village will prepare a request for proposal (RFP) to be discussed by the Board and the public, the project potentially remains two years from implementation, according to Jennifer Maltas, assistant to Street.
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The procedure for employing a commercial scavenger franchise is governed by state law, according to Maltas. Once the RFP is ready there must be a public hearing at which time the document could be altered.
After the hearing, the RFP is issued by Deerfield allowing any qualified hauler to bid. Once the bids are returned, the Village will prepare a proposed contract for the winner.
There will be another public hearing on the contract at which time the Board can vote to accept it. Should that happen, state law requires a 15-month waiting period before enactment, according to Maltas.
The process actually began six months ago when Maltas and the Deerfield-Bannockburn-Riverwoods Chamber of Commerce sent Deerfield’s businesses a survey to learn the existing costs, frequency of service and the amount of recyclers.
“There was a 14 percent response rate,” Maltas said. “This is not unusually low for this situation,” she added about the response. She said 49 percent were of Deerfield’s businesses were recycling at the time of the survey.
Though all Board members who spoke favored the proposal, not everyone in the room was happy with the idea of one hauler for all of Deerfield’s businesses. Robert Pfister, municipal marketing manager for scavenger Veolia Environmental Services wants the choice to remain in the hands of each business owner.
“I’m opposed to a commercial franchise. The free market is the way to go. If they (business owners) want to recycle it’s their choice,” Pfister said. “You will not see those prices again,” he added referring to the fees paid in Highland Park and Highwood which both have a commercial franchise.
Trustee William Seiden felt the Village could obtain the best value by negotiating on behalf of the entire business community. “We can get a good price,” he said.
Chamber of Commerce Chairman David Levitz voiced concern that while the project may be good for a majority of businesses some will be unhappy. “Please be certain some of the local businesses in Deerfield are included (in the process),” he said. “If 85 percent win, 15 percent lose and we don’t want to alienate them.”
Trustee Barbara Struthers welcomes the Chamber’s involvement. “We do what we can to encourage commercial recycling,” she said. “Working with the Chamber is the best group to work with.”
Rosenthal echoed the opinion of Struthers and Levitz. “The RFP process is not an easy process and we want to make sure the business community is involved,” she said.
One person who has been working with the Village is SWALCO (Solid Waste Agency of Lake County) Executive Director Walter Willis. He is pleased with the idea.
“It’s an opportunity to reduce the number of trucks on the street and increase recycling too,” Willis said. “It is a win-win in the best spirit of sustainability.” He also indicated the business communities of Highland Park and Highwood experienced a savings with a commercial franchise.