Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sometimes I Get it Right - Talking Trash

Over the last four years there have been occasions when I did not agree with the majority on the West Bloomfield Township Board.  Not many occasions, but one case in particular.

This particular case was the awarding of a trash hauling contract to Richfield Equities.  I felt strongly enough about the change to show up at Township Board meetings and speak.

We had a contract with Great Lakes Waste Management for many years.  I had been intimately involved in the first few contract negotiations for trash, starting in 1989.  First, with Oakland Disposal who went bankrupt with no warning and left garbage sitting on the street.  The Township Clerk and I quickly called a special meeting and negotiated a contract with BFI.

Over the years we added curbside recycling and yard waste pick-up.  We were one of the first communities to ban the burning of yard waste. 

I had no complaints with the carrier four years ago, although many people complained of problems.  (Hint:  If your trash is not at the curb or in the proper containers when the truck goes by, it is not their fault.) 

I saw no reason to switch haulers, especially to switch to a much smaller company.  My feeling was that they were looking to lock communities into a contract and at some point in the future try to sell those contracts off to a major trash hauler.  And now it looks like that has happened.

The company has declared bankruptcy.  Their contracts are being bought by Rizzo.  I know little about them.  I only know that they have collected trash in a nearby community for several years.  An online search shows that they handle several local communities.

When it comes to trash, there is nothing better than seeing it all disappear from the front of your home.  But as I learned in my first negotiation when the trash sat at the curb, finding the lowest cost alternative is not always the best idea.  The past history and performance of the company, along with their future prospects, is a much better indicator of success. 

In all fairness to Richfield, I must say that I had no complaints with their service other than the fact that they had the world's loudest trucks.  I could here them from a block away.

It looks like this will be a smooth transition.  At least I hope it will be.  But, it is a transition that should never have been necessary.  They could just as well have stayed with the major hauler that was already in place.

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