Westfield rejects recycling contract

Area leaders meet in early January in Westfield to discuss increases in recycling costs. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD – The city has rejected a three-year contract with the Materials Recycling Facility in Springfield that would increase recycling costs up to $600,000.

The contract deadline was Jan. 31, according to Department of Public Works Director David Billips and Chief Procurement Officer Tammy Tefft.  The current 10-year contract expires in June.

Under the current contract, Westfield was not charged for recyclables transported to the  processing facility at Bondi’s Island in Agawam, which is owned by the Department of Environmental Protection, and leased to Waste Management. However, in late fall, they were informed that prices would increase dramatically due to changes in the market for recyclable commodities.

The costs in the new three-year contract called for $145/ton in year  one; $148/ton in year two, and $152/ton in year three.  Westfield currently collects 3,200 tons of recyclables, and 12,000 tons of trash a year. Billips previously said the increase in the contract would amount to $500,000 to $600,000 annually for Westfield.

Westfield officials have been meeting for more than a month with leaders from Agawam, Chicopee, Holyoke, West Springfield and Springfield, who are all facing the same increases to different extents, depending on whether they have single-stream or dual stream recycling programs.

For communities that retained dual-stream recycling, such as Holyoke, costs went from zero to $93 per ton. It was estimated that increases to the communities around the table totaled $6 million.

Also participating in the meetings were state Representatives John C. Velis, of Westfield, and Aaron Vega, of Holyoke, who planned to meet separately with legislators to see whether the state could offer some relief.

Before deciding to reject the  contract, Billips said they were looking at two other options to see which would be best for Westfield. He said no matter which option they choose, costs will be going up for the city.

“We’re going to have to come up with another $300,000 to $400,000 a year. That’s a lot of money,” Billips said.

Tefft said Jan. 31 that the city has not made a decision yet on what company they will go with.

“Whatever company we decide to go with will, however, be less expensive than the Materials Recycling Facility agreement that we currently rejected,” Tefft said.

Both Billips and Tefft said that Westfield has no plans right now to change the way the city recycles.

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