Republic Services employees did their best this week to assure Carlsbad city officials that all will be well when the company takes over the city’s waste contract on July 1.
The strike that halted garbage, recyclables and yard waste collection for Chula Vista and parts of San Diego was “an anomaly” made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Republic executive Mike Celaya. , in an update on the transition at the Carlsbad City Council meeting last week.
The month-long walkout ended when a new contract was signed on January 17 after weeks of difficult negotiations over wages and benefits, as well as public health concerns about litter piled up in the streets. The union that represented the 250 South Bay truckers during their strike, Teamsters Local 542, is different from the union that will represent the Carlsbad drivers, Celaya said.
“A work stoppage in the city of Carlsbad is highly unlikely,” he said. “I assure you that throughout the past month, our progress on Carlsbad’s transition has continued at full strength and on target.”
Carlsbad will have about 40 Republic drivers and the company “will have a team in place and ready if anything happens,” he said.
Carlsbad awarded a 10-year, $27.7 million contract to Republic in April in a 3-2 vote with opposing Mayor Matt Hall and Councilman Keith Blackburn. The only other bidder was Edco Disposal. The workers of the two companies are represented by different unions.
Previously, Carlsbad’s contract was held by Waste Management, another national waste haulage company, but that agreement will expire on June 30 and the company has not submitted a bid to continue the service.
Republic will have to comply with new state regulations that for the first time require the recycling of food scraps and other organic waste, which residents will place in trash cans with yard waste.
Organic waste makes up about half of all materials currently sent to state landfills, and as it breaks down, it creates methane gas that harms the atmosphere. The new laws will divert more of this waste to reuse and recycling.
Republic will process Carlsbad organics in a composting facility at the company’s Otay landfill near Chula Vista, said Jim Groen, general manager of the North County region.
The company is purchasing 39 new collection trucks and 75,000 residential bins to replace those currently in use in Carlsbad. All trucks will be powered by compressed natural gas.
“You’ll start to see residential carts moving in and swapping out in the spring,” Groen said.
Republic will hire about 40 drivers for Carlsbad, he said. Some of them will be the same people who currently drive the roads for waste management.
“We intend to bring in as many familiar faces as possible,” Groen said.
When asked if the company could switch to electric collection trucks, he said it probably wouldn’t happen soon. The company is testing electric trucks in some parts of the country.
Garbage trucks consume a lot of energy because they are often on the streets for up to 11 hours a day and use complicated hydraulic systems, he said. However, they are a possible long-term solution to reducing emissions.