By Claire Harlin
Alongside efforts to step up commercial recycling — and explore the possibility of mandating it in the future — the Del Mar City Council voted on Sept. 26 to authorize the City Manager to prepare and execute a 10-year contract with Coast Waste Management (CWM) to continue providing the company’s solid waste and recycling services to the residents and businesses of Del Mar.
The City began seeking proposals for waste services in May and four companies stepped forward. Of those four, the top two companies — family-owned and locally operated EDCO and national provider Coast Waste Management — submitted final offers to the City.
CWM’s final proposal outlines a “pay-as-you-throw” program, that allows residents to choose a 35-gallon ($14.93), 64-gallon ($18.91), or 96-gallon ($21) waste cart. These prices reflect a $2 increase for the 96-gallon cart, no increase for the 64-gallon cart and a $3 decrease for the 35-gallon cart. This system will essentially reward those who throw away less and recycle more.
CWM is also proposing to reduce commercial recycling rates by 20 percent to encourage more businesses to recycle, said CWM spokeswoman Lori Somers.
“Commercial recycling has lagged,” she said.
Somers said only about 65 percent of businesses in Del Mar are recycling customers, according to CWM records. But some businesses recycle on their own, Somers said, so that percentage may actually be lower than reality. Zel’s Del Mar, for example, shares recycle bins with neighbors and employees at Del Mar Pizza often take home recyclables to dispose of. The pizza shop has also made a switch to compostable plates.
CWM’s proposed annual combined cost for residential and commercial waste and recycling services was $931,163.12, whereas EDCO’s costs totaled $948,088.79. Councilmembers expressed that the difference in cost was a major factor in choosing CWM. There were also about 10 letters from community members submitted to the council outlining CWM’s high level of service.
“The thing that strikes me besides the numbers and the cost is customer service,” said Councilman Terry Sinot. “We encourage Waste Management to continue that emphasis because it’s very beneficial to the community.”
Councilman Mark Filanc said he appreciates that EDCO is local and family-owned, but he accepted the staff recommendation to sign with CWM.
The franchise agreement with CWM would only be effective subject to a “no protest” finding through the Proposition 218 process, which mandates that the City get community approval for any proposed new or increased fees. The City plans to mail notices and conduct public hearings in October and December to comply with this process.
Also in October, the City Council plans to discuss the possibility of making commercial recycling mandatory. In such case, recycling would be enforceable by the city and would not be an option for businesses.