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Glenn Wright on county talking new trash contract with Republic Services

Summit County

The Summit County Council Wednesday authorized its staff to enter negotiations with its current trash hauler, Republic Services, for a new five-year contract.   

County Council Chair Glenn Wright told KPCW that a new agreement with Republic isn’t the culmination of the county’s solid waste program.    But it’s progress. 

He said the company has promised, for instance, that its customer-service number will be local.

“Currently they’re doing it via a central number for all Republic services, and they have pledged to have a local facility for that, that can better understand what’s happening in Summit County.  You can imagine that if somebody says, ‘Hey, I’m on this road in Silver Creek, and I didn’t get my pickup today,’ and the operator’s in Texas, they probably don’t know what that means.”

Wright said that another challenge for the company is the high mountain topography of Summit County.       

“I think in most of the county, they’re fairly reliable for pickups.  We see complaints, particularly during the winter, in some of the more remote areas.  You can imagine that it’s really tough to get to places like, some places like Summit Park in the winter, some places in Silver Creek where maybe you have dirt roads and steep dirt roads to get into.  And they have special vehicles that actually get into those areas.”

Wright said three companies submitted bids for a garbage contract, and all offered to provide add-on service to recycle yard waste, food waste or glass.   But to do that the companies would turn to sub-contractors.

Wright said for a number of reasons, residents won’t be allowed to throw glass in their recycle bins.      

“It complicates the recycling process, the sorting process, having broken glass in essentially a hand-sorting process is just not good.   Plus it adds a lot of weight to the pickups.   Reality is glass is kind of a marginal carbon-footprint issue anyhow.  Here in Utah we only have one place that actually recycles glass.   That’s down in Nephi.  So anything gets picked up here actually has to be hauled down there to be turned into something else.”

The director of Recycle Utah, Carolyn Wawra, said residents can deposit glass at their Park City headquarters, and at four remote sites around the basin.

But Wawra said glass doesn’t make money for them.     

“If the glass recycler was right in our back yard, we can make money on glass.  But glass is really a loss for us, when you take the haul into effect.  Glass leaves our center and it travels down to Salt Lake to be recycled and processed.   And in paying for the haul, we don’t make up that cost in the money we make on the glass.  So glass, it doesn’t make us any money, but we’re really doing it cause it’s the right thing to do.”

She said that Momentum Recycling in Salt Lake is the closest location that handles glass.    She added that local residents can sign up with Momentum for a monthly curbside pickup

Glenn Wright said one thing that could help recycling is a new transfer facility, which is being discussed as a future project.       

“The potential transfer facility is not part of the contract.  It’s part of  additional negotiations.  And we’ll see where that goes.   They have a proposal out there to contribute a million dollars, but then to recoup that through an additional dollar per person, roughly, each month.  That’s why we negotiate.”

He said that the transfer station could ultimately morph into a sorting facility.      

“About the only commercial recycling that makes any money is cardboard and typically metals.  The rest of it is a loss-leader.   So if we had a facility that could sort more cardboard, and particularly commercial cardboard comes in, that would take a significant amount of the carbon content out of our waste stream and out of the landfill.”

Summit County Council Chair Glenn Wright.


Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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