Single Stream to the Lege
Austin's troubled recycling deal creates legislative ripples
By Richard Whittaker,
11:35AM, Mon. Apr. 13, 2009
Who says state lawmakers don't pay attention to Austin politics?
The City of Austin's Solid Waste Services Department has taken a pummeling this week over the single stream recycling contract they signed in October with Greenstar North America. Turns out that the deal that was supposed to generate $1.9 million a year could be a $3 million to $4 million a year loss maker.
Solid Waste Advisory Commission Vice-Chair Rick Cofer has been made painfully aware this debacle could give recycling a bad name. On April 8 he presented testimony to House Environmental Regulation Committee Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, on House Bill 1867, a state-wide version of Austin's massively successful Bag the Bag program, when the contract came up.
Cofer recalled, "He goes, 'Mr Cofer, I read in the paper that Austin is losing a million dollars on recycling, so why should we recycle these bags?' I said, 'Look, just because the city government lead us into a stupid contract where we lose money, while Dallas and San Antonio have contracts with the same company that make them money, that's no reason not to recycle. That's a reason to not enter into bad contracts.'"