The battle between Waste Management and Recology for garbage supremacy in San Francisco has an interesting twist. To recap, Houston-based Waste Management has owned the contractual right to collect San Francisco's waste and dump it in a place called the Altamont Landfill, which is located in Livermore, California. NorCal Waste, now called "Recology,' has been the company that collects garbage in San Francisco, then hands it over to Waste Management for storage in Livermore.
But Recology wanted to have the piece of the business Waste Management held for years. To that end, the upstart San Francisco-based firm submitted a bid for the contract this year, and to the San Francisco Commission on the Environment, and to the surprise of many, beat Waste Management. So it's all over, and Recology gets to work, right. No.
Both Recology and the San Francisco Commission on the Environment unknowningly swatted a giant bat at a hornet's nest of interlocking interests connecting Waste Management, The Sierra Club, and The City of Livermore. It works like this, basically: Waste Management is paid to dump at the Livermore Altamont Landfill; the City of Livermore and The Sierra Club, which helped set up a land-protection and garbage cap agreement 11 years ago, get millions of dollars from the dumping activity.
Because Recology wants to take the garbage to another location and not Altamont Pass, Livermore, The Sierra Club, and Waste Management have all cried foul and asserted that the more expensive Waste Management proposal used more state of the art trucks, among the other claims. But the real issue is all three entities would stand to lose millions.
But if that's the case, and it is, why in 1999 did Livermore fight against the very same Altamont Pass waste dump that it now is trying to defend? That's right, defend. This letter below (sent to this blogger by an activist who did not wish to be named) is from Livermore's Mayor Marsnall Kamena.
The letter brags about Livermore's roll as "host community to more than one landfill." And it outlines a number of reasons why Recology should not have the dumping contract. But it does not mention that for Livermore, it's a revenue issue, and it does not explain that Livermore itself doesn't even use the same dump it's advocating that San Francisco use.
What's strange is that in 1999, the City of Livermore fought vigorously to control the size and level of dumping at Altamont Pass. The Sierra Club was a party in a lawsuit to block expansion of use of the site, but the Sierra Club carved a nice revenue source for itself in the process. The Altamont Landfill Open Space Fund has earned over $10 million since 1999. That money is based on a charge of 75 cents per ton. If San Francisco's waste goes way, the fund revenue is reduced.
But the point is, San Francisco's waste going elsewhere would seem to be what the City of Livermore wants. After all, even Livermore dumps its own trash somewhere else.
so what's this Waste Management v. Recology in SF tussle all about: money. All of the Waste Management and Sierra Clubs parties are concerned about losing money, and not saving the environment, especially The City of Livermore.