Landfill Supervisor Asks If County Should Take Over Trash Collection

Nov 1, 2019

On Wednesday, Summit County’s Landfill Superintendent told the County Council that they have to make an important decision soon.    That is, should they  plan on renewing their garbage-collection contract with Republic Services, or should the county take on the job themselves.   

The discussion was part of the Council's budget review.

Landfill supervisor Tim Loveday said they have had a consultant working for a couple of months to see if the county should take on curbside collection.   He said a draft of the report should be ready this week and they will present it to Council in a couple of weeks.

Republic’s contract doesn’t expire until 2022.   But Loveday said they have to decide now what direction they will take.   

“We have to move forward next year with either putting together the RFP for re-bidding the Republic contract.    Or we have to start putting money aside and making the operations plans and getting the equipment in place to be able to start doing that ourselves in 2022.  So we’re really up against a timecrunch right now.”         “

He was asked what gut feeling he has about taking over  collections.    Loveday said he is 50-50 about the idea.       

“My gut feeling, based on the exchanges with the consultant is that, things are come back financially in our favor to run a program ourselves, I think not only  just from the basic finances.  We’re also gonna see a situation where we provide a lot better service to the residents than what we can do right now.  That said, the side items that don’t show up in a spread sheet quite as well are—waste collection workers is one of the highest injury rates in the country right now.    So we’ve got an insurance issue there.   We’re gonna really price that cause it’s not gonna be included in this report.  We’re gonna have to look at self-insured vs. having a third party insure us.   Because you’ve got a lot of liability when you start running those trucks around.”

On a related item, he said a company has come to him with a proposed waste-energy plant  that might convert plastic and some other landfill waste into diesel fuel.   

That’s a concept that’s attracted interest from Council Member Glenn Wright.   Loveday said they know the technology is out there, but they don’t know at this time whether it’s affordable.

He said the company that’s approached him is looking at a small site for a  plant, about half an acre.   They firm  would have to invest some $15 million, and it needs a commitment from the county for 20 to 25 years    

“Right now, I’m ferreting through it.   As you well know, when people bring this to me, I’m always, ‘It’s snake oil” because very few—They all talk about it, and they put on great presentations.  But very few have facilities that are up and operating anywhere in the world.   This particular company does have facilities up and operating.    And there’s also a second company that just built a facility and has it up and operating in West Virginia.   They do different types of things.   But, y’know, trying to find one that I think is palatable to the Council and palatable to our citizens, that is environmentally friendly, adds to the difficulty.”

County Council Chairman Roger Armstrong asked if they could sound out other counties in the Wasatch Back about joining such an operation.

Loveday said it’s difficult to judge by other examples, since most other waste-energy operations have been done overseas.       

“At some point here, I don’t think we’re gonna be operating this landfill for another 40 years, not in the current state that it is now.   I think we will be doing some type of waste energy with the technology.  It’s just identifying that technology and trying not to be the guinea pig when it does comes along.  I’d just as soon not be the first.”

Summit County Landfill Superintendent Tim Loveday.