New North Bend Solid Waste and Recycling Contract May Nearly Double City Rates

At the March 21st North Bend City Council meeting, council members heard a motion to authorize a new contract for solid waste & recycling services with Recology, potentially ending a long relationship with Republic Services.

This new contract for once-a-week collection would start on April 1, 2024. The City of North Bend says residential customers may expect nearly double their monthly rates, and commercial customers may expect an approximately 40% increase.

Councilmembers discussed motion AB23-038 for over an hour, eventually deciding to amend the motion to make March 21st a first reading with a second reading to occur at the next city council meeting on April 4th to ensure the public has time to comment on the change. *An audio recording can be heard here with the contract discussion starting at 1:11:55

The consensus among council members seemed to be that Recology is the better choice for solid waste management, with council member Elwood noting the city is looking for a partnership with an agency that is “aligned with our brand, aligns with our values and really looks at the environment and the betterment of our community as a first and foremost within their business model.”

Many members expressed disappointment in Republic for failing to do the right thing in the way of customer credits when given the opportunity to extend a gesture of goodwill during the recent snow events and labor disputes.

A draft contract with current service provider, Republic Services, was presented in November 2022. The procurement process continued, however, as concerns regarding a new contract with Republic mounted due to a past issue of the company’s refusal to provide service credits to North Bend customers following missed service during an early 2022 storm and labor strike. The extended period of missed service resulted in approximately $30,000 in City paid expenses to ensure customers received solid waste removal.

Unfortunately, the significant increase in cost to customers will be felt regardless of vendor selection due to inflationary increases in operating costs that are being experienced throughout the refuse and recycling industry. 

The last contract with Republic Services was negotiated in 2011 when the country was in a recession, and the rates were lower. When asked if the rate hike would eventually come to every city & area that must renegotiate, Public Works Director Mark Rigos said, “Yes, significant rate hikes will likely be experienced by other communities that must negotiate their next solid waste and recycling contract. North Bend specifically will notice a significant hike, considering that the last contract was negotiated during a historic economic recession when negotiations were quite competitive.”

The table below shows Republic (2023 cost in current 2011 contract) vs. Recology (2023 cost in 2023 proposed contract) vs. Republic (adjusted to 2023 cost from 2022 proposed contract). Making it clear that the rate hike has less to do with the change of service providers and is more about the current economic climate vs. what was happening in 2011.

The City of North Bend’s current solid waste collection contract with Republic Services expires on March 31, 2024. During the past year, the City and its consultant, Epicenter Services, conducted a competitive procurement process, having received submissions from Recology, Republic Services, and Waste Management. 

Republic proposed the lowest rates, and Recology received the highest qualitative score relating to contract compliance, customer service, community outreach, and education. For scoring criteria and more,  see the March 21st, 2023 City Council Packet.

After unsuccessful attempts to get Republic Services to add service credits to the new contract at no additional charge, the City met with Recology. 

Recology agreed to the City’s request for service credits, lowered their proposed rates, and offered  additional benefits for customers, including:

  • Increased service requirements during winter weather and labor interruptions, plus credit for services missed after the first week of service interruption
  • A 12-year term which translates to a lower rate for customers
  • New collection vehicles that will provide more reliable service and lower emissions
  • Access to Recology’s store, located in Issaquah, which serves as an in-person customer service center, as well as a recycling center for a variety of hard-to-recycle items
  • A local call center that will be available seven days per week, with two-way texting for customers
  • Additional recycling and composting educational outreach and promotion

If you would like to comment on the new solid waste contract, all City Councilmembers may be reached by email, or you can attend the next council meeting on April 4th at 7 pm to comment in person.

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