Farmington Hills contracts with a new waste hauler

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published July 13, 2022

FARMINGTON HILLS — After holding a contract with Waste Management for approximately 15 years, the city of Farmington Hills recently switched to Green For Life Environmental USA for trash, recycling and yard waste pick-up services.

The official start date for GFL was July 1, one day after the contract with Waste Management had expired.

“It was time to go out and see what the market would bear,” said Farmington Hills Director of Public Services Karen Mondora. “It was a proposal process. We got the responses back, and GFL was both low price and had excellent references. Pretty much every one of our surrounding community neighbors uses GFL — Livonia, Southfield, West Bloomfield and Novi — all currently use GFL Environmental for their residential refuse contracts. … So that’s the primary driving reason for us to make a change.”

Mondora expanded on her thoughts.

“With proposals, you look at more than just price,” she said. “You look at quality service delivery, reputation, their ability to perform. … We had an interview process that was completed, and they were determined to be the best qualified, with also the lowest pricing for the city. … (Waste Management) provided us good service in the past; it was just time to see what was out there.”

Kelly Monico, who is the director of special services for the city of Farmington Hills, shared details about how many companies were in the running to receive a contract from the city.

“We received three bids,” she said. “One from Waste Management, who was our contractor; one from Priority Waste, out of Clinton Township; and then GFL, out of Southfield. I believe financially they were the lowest.”

Mondora provided the specifics of GFL’s bid, as compared with Waste Management.

“GFL, their bid price per household per year was $149.40, and then there’s an escalator for each year,” she said. “And then Waste Management’s bid was $203.88 for one year.”

The amount that residents pay in taxes is not expected to change as a result of the switch from Waste Management to GFL.

“The customer pays their refuse collection through their tax bill, so this really doesn’t correlate to what they pay on their tax bill,” Mondora said. “We have additional price costs that go into the administration of the contract.”

Mondora said the length of the city’s contract with GFL is five years, with optional extensions for up to three additional years.

Pick-up days will remain the same for residents.

The transition from Waste Management to GFL is one that Mondora said should be a “seamless” one for residents.

“Nothing is (going to) change for the residents except for the color of the truck that drives past their driveway,” Mondora said. “We do all of the customer service in-house through our DPW, and then we route those to the route manager of the refuse company. So, they don’t have to change their cans; they don’t have to change their recycle bin; the rules don’t change for yard waste collection. Everything is the same.”

From the perspective of Derrick Schueller, who is the superintendent of public works for the city of Farmington Hills, the process the city has gone through is not unusual.

“Every so often, as a community, you have to bid for these services, so this is following that normal process of competitive bidding,” Schueller said. “Solid waste and recycling is one of the bigger ones in a community. … It’s a big change. … We’re working with both our residents as well as the new company to make sure that we get off to a good start.”

Schueller shared his rationale for why it’s important to go through a bidding process.

“From time to time, it’s important to bid out services because things can change and we are looking for the best value, to spend the taxpayers’ money the best that we can and be the most efficient at it,” he said.

According to a press release from the city of Farmington Hills, “In the interest of worker safety, all containers will continue to be limited to a 35-gallon and 60-pound capacity, and oversized containers will not be emptied.”

The release also states that recycling carts will be rebranded with a GFL decal applied by company employees.

The transition period may take several months, with rebranding decals being applied in sections throughout the city.

One change that residents could see is pick-up times.

“So if your collection day is Tuesday and you’re used to the truck driving by in the morning between 9 and 10, we just ask that they be patient because it might be 2 or 3 in the afternoon, depending on if the new company changes the route slightly for the day,” Mondora said.

Mondora shared her perspective as to the primary benefit to residents as a result of the change.

“We were able to negotiate a slightly longer season for yard waste collection, so we’ll have two additional weeks in the fall,” she said. “That’s been a request that we have been able to make happen. Depends from year-to-year when the leaves fall off the trees and when winter starts. This will give us a couple weeks into December for people to continue to put their yard waste out if they get delayed because of (the) Thanksgiving holiday, travel … or the leaves haven’t fallen.”

Residents who have questions can call the City of Farmington Hills Department of Public Works at (248) 871-2850 or visit fhgov.com.

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