City discusses details of waste collection, recycling

Published 1:59 am Thursday, February 8, 2018


NATCHEZ — City leaders Wednesday attempted to refine a request for proposals (RFP) that will determine what kind of waste and recycling collection services residents might receive with Natchez’s next garbage collection contract.

The city plans to publish the RFP in the coming weeks in an effort to not only reinstate curbside recycling pickup, but also improve collection services all while avoiding a steep price hike.

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While previous discussions pertaining to the RFP concerned the frequency of different collection options — such as weekly versus twice weekly trash pickup or biweekly versus monthly recycling pickup — Wednesday’s work session focused heavily on pay models and grant funding options.

City Planner Riccardo Giani said he hopes to keep recycling costs down by having the city pay whichever collector is awarded the contract, but also separately pay a materials recovery facility (MRF) for processing the recyclables.

The MRF, a hub that receives and organizes recyclables to later sell to other end-user facilities, would charge a flat fee, which Giani said would hopefully protect against the volatility of the recyclables market.

“The MRF or the recycling facility would bid on a per-household basis for processing costs,” Giani said. “Hopefully, that would drive down the cost of recycling collection.”

Waste Pro estimated that approximately 900 Natchez households participated in the city’s recycling program based on survey data.

While Giani had initially factored in all Natchez households, a figure he cited as approximately 5,700, Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said the city should only pay for the households that are recycling.

Giani said he agreed with Arceneaux-Mathis’ suggestion, and he also noted the hope that surrounding communities would also send materials to the MRF, which in turn could lower costs even further.

Another aspect the aldermen discussed is potential grant funding money to cover costs of trash and recycling bins.

Community Development Director James Johnston said the city could approach the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for funding, which would come by means of a recycling grant that the city was awarded in 2013. Johnston said the city could go to the MDEQ to request the use of those grant monies for collection containers while also asking for an extension of the grant, which is set to end on June 30.

Additionally, Giani cited a potential grant from The Recycling Partnership to cover the costs of recycling bins.

In order to meet the qualifications of that grant, Giani and Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith said the city would need to increase the size of trash carts from 35 gallons to a larger size, which Smith said might be preferable anyway.

In order to weigh these options and inform waste collection companies, Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard suggested that the city hold a “pre-proposal conference” with all interested parties.

Both Waste Pro Division Manager Doug Atkins and Director of Government Relations and Community Affairs Jolene Johnson agreed that such a session would be helpful for all parties.

The city has expressed the intent to have the waste and recycling contract awarded by mid-March.