January 27, 2010

City ready to purchase recycling carts; Bid comes in $400,000 under budget

A lot of questions are hanging around out there about the recycling carts included in the city's 2010 budget. Rick Jones, head of the city's Public Works Department, answered a few of those questions Wednesday in a press release.

Here's a breakdown of information that came out today:

1. The city has not bought the carts - yet.

2. The city has settled on a contractor for the carts. Racine is set to purchase 28,500 carts from Rehrig Pacific Company for $1,349,080 - about $400,000 less than was budgeted for the carts. City Administrator Tom Friedel said Wednesday the savings will allow the city to stop collecting the $10 recycling fee from property owners sooner than expected. (The city is still calculating how much sooner, he said.)

3. The carts will be manufactured at Rehrig's plant in Pleasant Prairie.

4. The city is close to finalizing rules for its cart program, according to Jones' press release. The standard cart will be 65 gallons for residential properties and 95 gallons for non-residential customers in the city.

5. Property owners will be able to exchange their carts after a 60-day trial period. The one-time, free-of-charge exchange will allow residents to switch to the larger size (95 gallons) or a smaller, 35-gallon cart.

6. "Our program is based upon trying to maximize the recycling volume in order to maximize the cost savings to our property taxpayers," Jone said in the press release. "However, we also understand that one size does not meet everyone’s needs and that flexibility needs to be a significant consideration."

The press release also reiterated that the city implementing the program to save money. As of Jan. 1, it costs the city $43 per ton to dispose of regular garbage in the landfill, compared to $9 per ton for recyclables. In other words, the city saves $34 for every ton of garbage that is recycled instead of being thrown into the landfill.

See Jones' full press release below.

Also Wednesday, Alderman Terry McCarthy reported on research he'd done on another community that required residents to use recycling containers. Here's his letter to the City Council and other city officials:
In an effort to verify the validity of the fiscal benefits claimed for single-stream recycling carts beyond the myriad of examples already supplied to us by the DPW, I googled "single stream recycling" results and went to the first municipal site that showed up on the list, Springfield, MA. It turned out to be a perfect reference for our situation, as they are a similar size, older, cold-weather city moving from dual stream to single-stream recycling with 95 (yes, 95) gallon carts.

I spoke to Greg Superneau, the DPW manager responsible for the program. He indicated that they faced all the same questions and concerns we are hearing (including civil liberties - it is Massachusetts after all!). After implementing for the first third of the City, the results are very positive (greater than 100% increase in recycling), and they are moving forward with the remainder of the City.

Please take a look at these links in anticipation of our Committee of the Whole meeting on this topic.



The City Council is scheduled to reconsider the recycling carts at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 2. Alderman Sandy Weidner has requested an advisory referendum on the proposal be placed on the city's April ballot to help the council make a decision on the carts.

The City Council voted to include the recycling carts in Racine's 2010 budget.

Here's Rick Jones' full press release:
I am very pleased to provide an update report to you regarding our recycling cart program. There are two key components.

First, our Purchasing Department reports that they have received the proposal of Rehrig Pacific Company for the provision of recycling carts. The City’s Purchasing Agent reports that he was able to negotiate the purchase of these carts at a reduced rate by taking advantage of the Houston Galveston Area Council procurement program. The proposal for the purchase of 28,500 recycling carts from Rehrig Pacific Company is in the amount of $1,349,080.00 and will result in savings to the City of Racine of approximately $400,000.00 of the anticipated cost.

Mr. Tim Graeb, Municipal Sales Manager for Rehrig Pacific Company, states “We are very excited to be working with the City of Racine for the provision of carts for their recycling program. These carts will be manufactured at our plant in Pleasant Prairie, WI, employing residents of the Racine-Kenosha area. In these difficult times it is even more important to keep these jobs in southeastern Wisconsin”.

Second, I am also pleased to report that we have made extensive progress in developing the rules which will govern our cart recycling program. The standard cart will be a 65 gallon cart for residential properties and a 95 gallon cart for non-residential customers of the City of Racine. The City of Racine will, after a 60 day trial period, allow property owners a one time free-of-charge exchange. Residents may exchange their cart for either a larger (95 gallon) cart or a smaller (35 gallon) cart dependent upon their particular needs. Our program is based upon trying to maximize the recycling volume in order to maximize the cost savings to our property taxpayers. However, we also understand that one size does not meet everyone’s needs and that flexibility needs to be a significant consideration.

The recycling cart program was proposed and approved by the Common Council because of the long term savings it offered to our taxpayers. The dramatic increase in the cost to dispose of a ton of waste in the landfill, coupled with the rise in the value of a ton of recyclables, makes recycling a viable long term alternative to traditional landfilling.

As of January 1, 2010 solid waste disposal rates exceeded $43/ton and the value of recyclables continued to climb so that the City was being paid over $9/ton. The economic justification for the cart system is even truer today than it was 2 months ago when the budget was adopted.


  1. Let the Garbage war begin!

  2. Well this is good news. I did not really want one of those big carts, so I'm glad to see that I can get a smaller one.

  3. I have yet to figure out how the carts will save money over blue bags. why is it any different to place recylables in blue bags verses a bin? Do we get charged for dumping if it's in a bag instead of bulk?

  4. I had the same question so I called my alderman. He told me that the other cities that did this saw a big increase for 2 reason. #1, only half of the city recycles now (renters make no attempt) but when the carts were given to them, they started recycling. That is an increase becasue if they never recycled before then any amount is helpful.
    #2, he said that people that already recycle tend to do more. I don't quite understand this but he says that the other cities have data to show this.
    I got a lot more info from him than the paper ever printed. I told him that the city needs to do a better job of explaining this thing and than maybe we wouldn't be so mad about it.

  5. Rick Jones is full of garbage !!

  6. #1 I would like to see this data. I have heard of this mysterious data but have yet to see it (from an unbiased source-not the bin manufacturers). All the data I have found has either been tampered with or is inconclusive.
    #2 If the city ENFORCED the current laws, we could keep the bags.
    I won't mind the bins, and I will probably order the smaller unit, I just don't like our city government increasing the scope of their control without accountability.


  7. The Blue bags worked just fine. Of course the City wants more money. I can not wait until I and my gang dump our first bag outside the City Council

  8. Mark Gregory1/27/2010 9:31 PM

    I hope we have a spec on purchasing the carts. I know from experience that we need to make sure that they are UV stable,what material, recycled material, how much regrind. What is the expected life of the carts. How long will the company stand behind the product. As a former engineer I know that it could be possible to purchase a million dollars of bad product. Recycle carts have a history of poor quality. It scares me when I see a $400,000 savings. Are we comparing apples to apples.

  9. How long until I can recycle my cart? It's that or I'm throwing it out in the street.

    There is nothing wrong with the blue bags.

  10. I can tell you right now i'd recycle more because it would be easier. I can't believe this city used bags for so long, haha

  11. "It's that or I'm throwing it out in the street."

    Go ahead, we'll bring it right back. Keep doing it and you'll get a ticket for disorderly conduct.

  12. Math savings seem pretty simple. If the $10 for 10 years was based on the $2 million project, a $400,000 savings is approx. 20%. Therefore, the $10 assessment time should be reduced by 20%, or 2.5 years. Now that was not too complicated.

  13. " The economic justification for the cart system is even truer today than it was 2 months ago when the budget was adopted."
    Can the Post Please mark your editorials as such or should we assume The Post is one big editorial

  14. 6:37 - What's your address? I'll drop it off at your house.

  15. 8:06 - Do that, and you'll get more than a ticket.

  16. "" The economic justification for the cart system is even truer today than it was 2 months ago when the budget was adopted."
    Can the Post Please mark your editorials as such or should we assume The Post is one big editorial"

    Dear dumbass,

    That was in the press release. It was not a statement from the Post. Beyond that, assume whatever you want about the Post. I'm sure Pete and Dustin will manage to survive your poorly thought out conclusions.

  17. Rick - why don't you address how this will enhance helping our seniors and individuals with disabilities. Are your garbage men going to pick up the carts from their garage and return them for them? No one is addressing this issue. Or is it that you and the city council do not care about this group of individuals - is it all about money? Let's see how well you handle the carts 20 years from now through the ice and snow!

  18. The JT article indicated that they may reduce the resident fee based on the savings. May reduce??? How about it will reduce the payment otherwise this unpopular program will become yet another hidden tax.

  19. Tim the Shrubber1/28/2010 8:31 AM

    "Can the Post Please mark your editorials as such or should we assume The Post is one big editorial"

    Barking up the wrong tree here. It is very explicitly stated the last few paragraphs are the text of the a press release. Those are Rick Jones' words and not Dustin's.

  20. Tim, My bad. More Coffee needed.

  21. Why did it take an uproar from the public for Rick Jones to find the savings. I bet he would have just purchased the carts at the original price if he did not think his precious project may get voted down. Big egos spend big money!

  22. If the City was going to be real bout this issue they look at a program to help composting efforts. The vast majority of garbage can be composted taking tons out of the landfill. In Milwaukee Growing Power keeps two or three tons (food) out of the landfill and uses it to help grow food.
    Sweet Water takes a ton out each week and uses it to raise Fish.
    Both projects have made green jobs yes real Green Jobs without one dine of Govement money.
    I understand that the guy who was looking to turn the old Danish Home into an Urban Garden/Farmer's Market is working on a composting operation in The County since the Department of Development was IMHO less then helpful.
    Perhaps a major composting effort could make an impact on the landfill issue too?

  23. I'm a renter. How are these carts supposed to help me recycle? When I moved into this building, we had recycling dumpsters. The landlord decided to save money and eliminated them. Now all the trash goes into one dumpster. If recycling saves money, why is it cheaper for him to have only one dumpster? And as a renter, like thousands of others in this city, how can I recycle?

  24. The pseudo-mayor and his minions on the city council that voted to shove this program down the people's throats (at taxpayer expense) are signing their political death warrants if they continue to do this. There are so many people against this, many of whom vote, and they continue to turn a deaf ear to us.

    Well, on the eve of the next election for your seats, take a good look around city hall because it will probably be the last time you see it. Especially YOU Mr. Pseudo-mayor!

  25. Seriously, is this a joke Racine Post?

    I have no issues with recycling; it’s a good, responsible thing to do. But why a big honking 65 gallon tub to do this?

    Look around at other communities in the area such as Caledonia. Why can’t we get the blue bins that they have? They are maybe 10 to 15 gallons and not such an eyesore, nothing wrong with emptying them weekly or even getting two if needed, and they don’t take up so much space.

    I can’t wait to drive thru the city and see all of these big old recycling bins all around, sure is going to look impressive for us. Sure seems like a waste of a lot of money.

    Come on city folks – I do believe this need to be re-thought.

  26. Hey Graham, look around pal. Half of the council is up right now, and the only two challengers have nothing to do with the carts.

  27. OK, So we accept the fact that most of Racine is run down ghetto in it's apperance. Let's just add these huge blue bins to the mix! Just wait until they are scattered and used fore all kinds of things OTHER then recycling. Do you honestly think MLK Drive, Mead St., Racine St. etc. are going to store and use these bins accordingly? HAHAHA Mayor, you my friend are TOAST!

  28. Another fine waste of taxpayer money.

    Just like that $60,000 red thing in Uptown that is now a monument to Becker & RCEDC's inept attempt to improve the city.

  29. Ah yes, the monument to Pedo Power....

  30. This topic came up at last nights LiberTEA Racine meeting. Some of the attendees were surprised at how upset some of the citizens in the room were about this "little" issue.
    Our discussion focused upon whether or not it was an individual "Liberty" issue. Basically the City Forcing a "tax" or a purchase on a citizen. The Obama-Care plan (now dead in the water), had a provision that each citizen would be REQUIRED to purchase "Health Insurance", and there was a question about whether it was Constitutional or not. I suspect the same argument could be made about being forced to purchase a recycling cart.
    Now make no mistake everyone in the room was in favour of recycling, as a voluntary task. but many of them questioned the auto-tax per household.

  31. "Look around at other communities in the area such as Caledonia."

    -- How about you look around at other communities like Pleasant Prarie, Milwaukee, Madison, or Green Bay? Since when is Caledonia a city of 80,000 people with over 100 years of municiple service?

    "...But why a big honking 65 gallon tub to do this?"

    -- Has anyone ever explained to you why the sky is blue? How many times did TAHT need to be explained to you before you got it? SO MANY PEOPLE on this site keep asking the same dumb questions even when those questions have been answered directly! If you disagree with the answers, fine, but stop acting like the answer was never given!

    The 65 gallon carts are used becasue other cities like Racine have used various sizes and found that size to be the bare minimum needed to handle to amount of recycling people generate. I'm not making that up, it is in the data provided by the other cities. I followed the link McCarthy went to and called the Mass. department. Sure, he could have lied to me, but what does he care? At least HE is a real person doing a REAL job, and not some anonymous tool of a blogger complaining about nothing!

    At least the teaparty gy above raises legitimate philisophical issues. THAT I can respect.

  32. I have always recycled everything I can.I only need a 13 gal blue bag per week and a brown grocery bag for paper. It goes from my kitchen to the curb, not into another container then to the curb. Don't have to bring the container back to the house ! Will this container fit in my kitchen ?? I think NOT.

    Why aren't multi-family building REQUIRED (forced) to recycle ??

    Can I get a FREE (bribe) cart to try too ??

  33. Well, you'll just have to get used to a little change in your life. How sad for you.

  34. How many multi-family or commercial buildings in East Forest Park neighborhood pilot area ???

  35. This is all good and well. But this council needs to make jobs a priority. We need to attract businesses. They do so much regulating that it is harmful.

    We cannot afford to be this quaint little tourist attraction town and pay for keeping up that facade.

    Most of the people who can afford to support these sorts of programs have moved to Mount Pleasant and Caledonia. We have to be careful about the ideas they have on how Racine should appear. They don't live here.

    I would like to see all city employees have to live in the city.

  36. 12:29 - A little arrogant today?

  37. Which buddy of the mayor owns the company? Every other deal has been that way.

  38. If I forget to bring the bin in from the street on time will Heller and his "Unit" henchmen fine me? Rick quick create a position for one of your useless eployees, "Recycle Bin Inspector"!

  39. Actually, Racine USED to have a "recycling coordinator" position, but it was cut as a part of a budget cut package back in 2003 or 2004 where they got rid of a bunch of other "useless employees." Now they are down to a skeleton crew and the budget to pick up trash in the whole city is slim.

    Do you suppose that is why cost-saving measures like this have to happen? Because we all want trash pick-up, pot holes filled, firemen to show up the minute I cut a finger, police to show up BEFORE the bad guys break in to my house, snow plowing, medians mowed, traffic lights fixed, sewerage lines fixed, and on and on. But in the fantasy land that is Racine, we believe all of this should happen without having to send in any taxes.

  40. Reminder:

    One should always consider the source of a "comment" when reading Racine Post. Even more so when the source of the content is from someone Anonymous. Even this comment if you so choose.

    This comment is still valid, however, as it refers to no subject other than this reminder.

  41. Dustin--

    An important error in the story that you need to correct/update: the city does not pay out $9/ton for recyclables, it receives $9/ton for recyclables. Thus the net gain to the city per ton switched from landfill to recycling is $52, not $34.

  42. Will these containers be made out of granite?

  43. From this point forward... the blue bins will be considered an addition to the Racine Arts Movement.

  44. While reading articles, I think about writing comments that would inspire intelligent conversation. Then I read other comments and loose my motivation.

    A good percentage of comments are negative and lack thoughtfulness. If you are responsible for these particular comments, there are options for you: 1) If you are upset with your personal life--Make changes so you are not so miserable 2) If you are truly upset with the City--Attend a city council meeting, public forum, or something along those lines to become informed--then you can formulate your thoughts in order to express your discontent with acumen.

  45. asshole mccarthy also voted for expensive street lights for his supporters on lathrop avenue. screw him and the recycling can he rides in on.

    i can't find blue bags at pick and save. do they still sell them?

  46. "we believe all of this should happen without having to send in any taxes."
    Ummm....excuse me?!
    Property taxes and income taxes which rate some of the highest in the nation (and increasing) yet the level of service remains unchanged or dropping. This is not a good trend.

  47. DICKERT, 1YR in office and raised our taxes, taxed us for recycling, gave away our land for free with NO jobs to show for, gave jobs to his friends and continues to feed us BS and no 10 year plan, hell this guy didn't even have a 1yr plan. He and his friends make me sick, this type of polititcian needs to be tossed out

  48. Since Dickert has been in office Racine has LOST JOBS!

  49. firefly-
    K-Mart sells the blue bags, 30 for $3 or $4 bucks.

  50. All of the people in this community who are aruging agianst the recycle bins are ridiculous! You are truely arguing that putting bags of recycling across your front lawn is better than wheeling out a bin to the curb? The bags look horrible when you drive down the streets incomparison to bins full of recycling. Another reason why the carts are so much better is that the recycling wont be flying loose over the lawns and streets. The next move is for the city to have garbage bins..it is 2010 not 1910.