WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington’s trash and recycling contractor, Russell Disposal, recently approached town officials about renegotiating its contract and increasing the existing price the Town pays for recycling.
“The cost for [Russell] to dispose of the recyclables at a process facility in Charlestown has gone up dramatically since the contract was first entered into,” explained Town Manager Jeff Hull to the Finance Committee at last week’s public hearing. “[Russell] was receiving $5 a ton for recyclables. They’re now paying to recycle.”
“There’s issues beyond Wilmington that is responsible for this,” continued Hull. “China has been taking roughly 50% of the United State and Europe’s recycling. [China] established a new policy and, as of July 1, are no longer doing that. A lot of recycling is pilling up across the country. The cost is going up for collectors to dispose of it.”
Wilmington is currently in the fourth year of a ten-year contract with Russell Disposal.
“The cost of the trash and recycling barrels are distributed over the length of the contract,” Hull told the Finance Committee at a recent meeting. “If the contract is terminated, the Town will be responsible for full repayment of the cost of the barrels.”
“The concern is if [Russell Disposal] can no longer sustain this operation, they will shut down and we’ll wind up having to get a new contractor who will then bill us directly for the increased cost, in addition to an escalator. It’s a challenging situation,” said Hull.
“They are locked into a contract currently and there’s no legal obligation for us to share in the increase in costs. The challenge we have to face is they may file for bankruptcy if they continue in this mode,” repeated Hull. “If we have to go through a process of selecting a new recycling contractor – aside from the disruption it’s going to cause residents – DPW Director Mike Woods has talked to other firms who have told us we would be paying this higher TIP fee with a new contractor, plus future increases tied to an escalator clause.”
Hull has tentatively called for an increase of $153,200 to the town’s rubbish collection and disposal line item in the FY19 budget because of Russell’s requests, raising the town’s annual payment from $1,826,797 to $1,979,997. Hull noted the town may also increase its payment to Russell during the CURRENT fiscal year (present-July 1).
Hull stressed, multiple times during the conversation, that while he was considering Russell Disposal’s requests, no decisions have been made. The Selectmen will be discussing the matter at their meeting on Monday night.
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