Currently, Oakland residents pay their garbage bills through Waste Management of Alameda County: $29.80 a month for single family homes and $474.20 for 20-unit buildings. The city council voted last week to award a new garbage contract to California Waste Solutions, and Oakland residents can expect their garbage bills to increase by next year. Here are ten things you should know about the situation.

  1.  The City Council has spent three years and one million dollars in consulting fees to decide on a new garbage contract. Despite the City’s efforts to attract competitive bids, only two bidders went for the contract: California Waste Systems and Waste Management.
  2. Both CWS and Waste Management currently service Oakland. Waste Management collects the city’s trash and residential compost, along with handling residential recycling in East Oakland. They also run a transfer station for waste processing and an East Bay landfill. CWS is currently in charge of residential recycling for around half of the city, but does not have a facility to sort trash yet.
  3. CWS proposed a 10-year plan where single-family rates would increase 24 percent to $36.82 per month, and the rates on twenty-unit buildings would increase 15 percent to $546.97 per month. Waste Management proposed four rate tables, and city staff initially urged the council to go through with a Waste Management proposal that would have increased rates by 50 percent. However, the company reduced its price, and Waste management staff recommended their rate option C, which is only $1.89 more than the CWS proposal.
  4. Although the CWS proposal is cheaper, the 10-year contract does allow rate increases that may be higher than anticipated from 2016 through 2019. Also, some critics say that since the company doesn’t have as much experience as Waste Management, it may not be able to get the resources in time to do the job when the contract begins, in addition to the potential for the company to request expenses and rate hikes in the future.
  5. CWS is based in West Oakland, whereas Waste Management is based in Houston.
  6. The rate increases include services like curbside bulky pickup, which gives tenants in multi-family homes a way to get rid of bulky pieces like furniture and mattresses instead of illegally dumping them.
  7. Waste Management has held a garbage contract with the city for over a century. CWS started collecting a share of the City’s recycling more than 10 years ago, and has never had a residential garbage contract before.
  8. California Waste Systems has agreed to partner with Civicorps, a nonprofit that runs organics collection services and trains and employs Oakland high-school dropouts.
  9. Many think it’s time for a rate increase. It has been 15 years since the last garbage rate hike in Oakland.
  10. The city’s current garbage contract expires June 2015. The new contract will go into effect July 2015.

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5 Responses

  1. Doug Bloch

    My union (the Teamsters) has represented the drivers who pick up garbage and recycling in Oakland for almost 5 decades, including the drivers at both Waste Management and California Waste Solutions. Thank you for covering this, as it’s the City’s single biggest contract and one that touches virtuallt every Oakland resident and business. Let me suggest a few additions/corrections:

    1. Waste Management hasn’t actually held the contract for a century. In 1986, they purchased Oakland Scavenger, an Italian-owned cooperative started around 1915 that held the contract.

    2. California Waste Solutions is a homegrown success story, thanks in part to our members. For this agreement, the company is also partnering with Phoenix-based Republic Services, the second largest garbage and recycling company in the United States. This was not revealed until the very end of this process. Republic did not bid on the contract with the City of Oakland. In fact, there was some question about whether they could bid as the City of Oakland has an ordinance urging departments not to do business with Arizona-based companies due to that state’s anti-immigrant laws. The Teamsters represent the Republic workers in the Bay Area and throughout the country, but we have an ongoing labor dispute with the company.

  2. Nancy Sidebotham

    The statement about WM fees not going up is not true…They have raised fees every year for the last 10 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So as to the comment that some think it is time for a rate increase …must not live or pay garbage fees in Oakland!

  3. Doug Bloch

    This is all very factual and good information for Oaklanders, who have largely been absent from the debate. So thanks for posting!

    The Teamsters Union has represented Oakland’s garbage and recycling drivers for almost 50 years, longer than Waste Management and California Waste Solutions have been in Oakland combined. Just a few comments:

    Waste Management hasn’t had the contract for a century. They bought out Oakland Scavenger in 1986, the original company that had a monopoly since the early 20th century.

    While California Waste Solutions is a homegrown success story, they are partnering with Phoenix-based Republic Services, the second largest garbage and recycling company in the Country. As an Arizona-based company, there was some question early on whether they were eligible to bid due to Oakland’s ordinance urging Departments not to do business with Arizona companies because of it’s anti-immigrant policies. But Republic didn’t actually bid, they are being brought in by CWS.

    The Teamsters have major disputes with Republic from coast-to-coast. The City of San Jose is trying to collect $2.6 million dollars in back pay for roughly 190 workers after we caught Republic cheating them of $5-7/hr/worker under San Jose’s living wage ordinance. Watch out Oakland!

  4. Nancy Sidebotham

    Garbage rates go up every year like clock work so the statement that rates have not gone up in 10 or 15 ears is a blatant lie…


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