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Allentown, PA – Containing Costs for Waste Collection

GBB Assists 3rd Largest Pennsylvania City in Successful Procurement Process

GBB assisted with the procurement process that led to a 50% to 70% lower collection rate increase than in surrounding municipalities.

”I’m pleased — it could have been a lot higher. Frank Bernheisel of GBB was extremely knowledgeable and helpful in the City of Allentown’s collection contract bid revision process which resulted in a substantially lower increase than expected. He was also able to meet some very tight deadlines in our process. I highly recommend GBB.”

Betsy Levin
Director of Community Development,
City of Allentown, Pennsylvania

In July 2007, a new collection contract kicked in for the City of Allentown, PA, providing improved services, incentives for increased recycling, and a substantially lower rate increase than in surrounding municipalities. GBB assisted the City with strategic planning and the preparation of the Invitation for Bids (IFB), resulting in three competitive bids for the services. A five-year contract, with options to extend, was ultimately awarded to incumbent Waste Management of Kutztown. In addition to promoting increased recycling, the challenge for the City was to limit the impact on resident rates of rising collection prices due to the high cost of fuel, the increases in truck costs due in part to the new, low-emission engines and the increased federal regulation of truck drivers, and rising labor and insurance costs. Those have added to haulers’ expenses in the years since Allentown and area municipalities last signed trash contracts.

The final result is a rate increase 50% to 70% lower than in surrounding municipalities that recently had contract renewals. Based on the budget approved by the City Council, residents of Allentown will see their annual solid waste bill increase 26%, from $228 to $287, while Easton, (16 miles to the northeast), and Bangor (30 miles to the northeast) saw increases of 60% and 100%, respectively.

”I’m pleased — it could have been a lot higher,” said Betsy Levin, the City’s Director of Community Development. “Frank Bernheisel of GBB was extremely knowledgeable and helpful in the City of Allentown’s collection contract bid revision process which resulted in a substantially lower increase than expected. He was also able to meet some very tight deadlines in our process. I highly recommend GBB.”

In order to minimize the cost increase but make other desired improvements, the City and GBB introduced changes to the current collection system as specified in the IFB, the most substantive being:

  • Twice-a-week trash collection reduced to once-a-week with a limit on the size of the set-out;
  • Promoting recycling by transitioning from a dual-stream paper and newspaper recycling collection to a single mixed-paper collection and by adding cardboard and paperboard;
  • Initiating semi-automated cart collection of the expanded mixed paper;
  • Residents restricted to 5 bags of trash per collection to reverse a three-year trend of rising trash volumes and reduce solid waste collection time and disposal costs;
  • New vehicles, except for yard waste collection, required at start of contract to provide residents with state-of-the-art collection equipment;
  • Delivery of recyclables to a City facility rather than directly to a remote Materials Recovery Facility, to reduce travel and waiting time; and
  • Fee for collection of Freon-containing appliances.

Allentown, 60 miles north of Philadelphia, encompasses approximately 17 square miles and is Pennsylvania’s 3rd most populous City with an estimated 2005 population of 106,992, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As part of the 5-year agreement, the contractor will provide collection of municipal solid waste, recyclables, appliances and bulky scrap metal, and yard waste from approximately 36,600 households and 470 business/commercial establishments, and disposal of waste collected by the City. Disposal of the approximately 45,000 tons of MSW collected per year will also be the responsibility of the contractor.

Now that the City has successfully completed the collection procurement process, the next challenge will be to closely monitor its recycling rate and take appropriate proactive measures, as required, to ensure the reversal of the trend of rising trash volume.

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