Published in the September 2, 2016 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Wakefield residents may notice a slight blip in the collection of recycling in the next couple of weeks as the Department of Public Works tries to make the best of a bad situation after their longtime recycling contractor suddenly stopped collections this week in all nine of the communities that they serviced, including Wakefield.
DPW Director Richard Stinson said that Gloucester-based Hiltz Waste Disposal did not inform the town that they would not be picking up recycling on Wednesday. When the trucks didn’t show up in town, the DPW called Hiltz and were informed that the company would no longer be providing services, Stinson said.
According to Stinson, all of the
communities were informed by Hiltz in July that the company was going out of business but would continue to provide collection services through September. In early August, the town had put together a Request For Proposal (RFP) for a new recycling contractor, Stinson added. They had a new contractor, JRM Hauling, lined up to start collecting recycling on Monday, Oct. 3.
Stinson said that when they learned that Hiltz did not show up on Wednesday, DPW employees stepped in and handled picking up the recyclables.
“Fortunately, we have a rubbish packer and we had our guys do Wednesday’s recycling collection,” he said. He said that the DPW crews finished up about 8 that evening. He said he believed that all locations were picked up, but acknowledged that some could have been missed.
“My staff did an outstanding job with collection on Wednesday,” Stinson said. “We were put under the gun and were able to get it done.”
Stinson said that JRM Hauling, the firm that wasn’t due to start until October, agreed to step in early and start collecting Wakefield’s recycling Wednesday. The company also agreed to let the town dump Wednesday’s recycling haul at their Peabody facility.
Stinson asked for the public’s patience over the next several weeks as the new recycling contractor learns the routes. He said that normally JRM would have had a chance to do that ahead of time but having been thrown into the breach, that hasn’t been the case. He also said that for the first few weeks, the new contractor’s trucks may not have any markings on them.
He said that while the new contractor will have a DPW staff person working with them at first, there still could be “a few blips” in the early going.
He said that overall, Wakefield has been fortunate in that residents have not experienced any serious impact from the unexpected situation, unlike some other towns. For example, Stoneham, which had Hiltz for both recycling and rubbish collection, has cancelled all collections until further notice.
Stinson said that the town had gotten “a fantastic deal” in its last contract with Hiltz. Unfortunately, the recycling market, especially for paper, dried up and the company was losing money on Wakefield’s contract as well as on others. He said that for that reason the new contract with JRM will cost the town considerably more than the last contract with Hiltz. Under the new contract, Wakefield will pay JRM $370,000 a year. The town was paying Hiltz $234,000.
Stinson said that Wakefield is considering legal action against Hiltz for breaking their contract with the town. Other communities are also weighing their legal options.
The DPW chief praised JRM for stepping up to help Wakefield and other towns that were left hanging when Hiltz quit.
“JRM has been fantastic to work with,” he said. “They have been put under the gun and have reacted to help us all.”