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Analysis: Recycling bids for Oyster Bay less costly than $1.1M intermunicipal agreement

Town officials say the deal approved in December avoids OT expenses and the need for more workers and separate pickups for paper, cardboard, plastic and metal.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino spoke in

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino spoke in Syosset in 2017 about plans to generate up to $1 million for taxpayers through the sale of surplus recycling trucks as well as obsolete equipment and non-operational vehicles. Credit: Chris Ware

The Oyster Bay Town Board rejected recycling bids that could have saved hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars compared to the intermunicipal agreement the town entered into instead, a Newsday analysis shows.

In December the town board approved an agreement with Hempstead’s Sanitary District 1 to recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and metal at an estimated cost of $1.1 million, depending on the amount of actual recycling at a rate of $69.75 per ton.

At that meeting, Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said the agreement would “continue single-stream recycling” for residents but that glass would no longer be accepted and recyclables would need to be separated.

On Monday, town spokesman Brian Nevin wrote in an email that "our current model had the least impact on residents in the Town of Oyster Bay." 

On March 26, the town board formally rejected bids submitted in November for recycling under a request for proposals that included the possibility of breaking up the recycling into multiple contracts.

The lowest bidder to recycle plastic and metal was West Babylon-based Great Northern Fibers at $33 per ton. That would have cost the town an estimated $206,712, based on town tonnage estimates.

The highest bid for a paper and cardboard contract was submitted by Farmingdale-based All American Recycling Long Island, which offered to pay the town $40.08 per ton. An estimated 4,428 tons of cardboard and paper recycled in 2019 would have meant a $177,474 payment to the town.

In December, public works commissioner Richard Lenz told the town board, “Those bids weren't as acceptable as this [intermunicipal agreement] at this time to the residents.”

Had the town entered into those separate contracts, the net cost would have been $29,237 in 2019, based on town recycling estimates. Those estimates assumed lower recycling rates if contracts were separate. 

Nevin said Monday that splitting the contract up would have increased costs because the town would need to add pickups to separate the commodities for the contractors and doing so would increase overtime, wear and tear on trucks and require additional workers. 

As recently as 2017, the town’s recycling was done under two separate contracts. The town canceled those contracts to adopt single-stream recycling, in which all recyclables are collected together. The town ended single stream on Dec. 31 because the vendor stopped the practice, as did many other companies due to changes in the recycling market.

Lenz said in an emailed statement in December that if the town had accepted separate contracts, residents would have had to hold recyclables for separate pickups. 

“In order for that to happen, separate collection [plastics and metals the first week, paper and cardboard the second week, alternating for the year] would be required,” Lenz wrote. “The bid for all of these items was never finalized since the IMA [Intermunicipal agreement] was negotiated.”

Smithtown and Brookhaven alternate pickups of plastics and metals one week and paper and cardboard the following week.

The board also rejected two bids to collect glass. Winters Bros. Hauling of LI submitted the lowest bid at $75 per ton, which would have cost an estimated $126,900 in 2019. Nevin said if the town had used three contracts, it would cost the town an additional $1 million because the town would need to pick up recycling three times a week.

Under the intermunicipal agreement, the town’s recycling will be done by Omni Recycling of Westbury Inc., which has a contract with the sanitation district and had also been a bidder on the contracts.

Saladino announced last week that the town would begin collecting glass at five dropoff locations in Oyster Bay under a pilot program at no cost to the town.

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