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Omaha City Council concerned about recycling companies vying for bid

Posted at 6:14 AM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 07:14:39-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — During the city council meeting on Tuesday, council members spent three hours discussing the new recycling bid. The recycling contract with Firstar Fiber is up at the end of the year so the city must decide whether they want to renew the contract, or go with another company. Nebraskaland and Waste Management have also submitted a bid.

While city council member Aimee Melton said she's happy with the service Firstar Fiber has provided, their bid was very high.

"I’ve been very happy and impressed with what Firstar Fiber has done and what they do with our recyclables. They care a lot about what they’re doing. Unfortunately the bid came back, literally a million and a half more than Nebraskaland," Melton said.

Nebraskaland Recycling bid $2.3 million per year.

Dale Gubbels, President and CEO of Firstar Fiber says the high bid is needed to match the city's expectations of handling the material.

"That balance of trying to meet the customer’s expectations and our capabilities means that you get the best bid when you have the experienced company looking at this in a way that’s going to be sustainable," Gubbels said.

Lance Brown, owner of Nebraskaland Recycling said he put in a bid because he thinks they can do it for much less.

"The only reason why I bid the city contract for recycling is because there is no reason whatsoever that a city of this size should be paying four million dollars a year for recycling. I found a fair price, I presented it to the city and it just happens to be significantly lower than the other bid," Brown said.

Nebraskaland doesn't have as big of a facility as Firstar Fiber so the city council is concerned that they won't be able to handle the city's capacity of materials.

"I do think we’re going to find, one we start using those covered carts that the amount of material that people are going to be recycling is probably going to double and I’m concerned that Nebraska land will be able to handle all that material, however it is very difficult for me to tell the taxpayers hey I think we should go with the higher price bidder and pay an extra one and a half million dollars because I’m not sure if they can handle it," Melton said.

Brown said that he does believe his company will be able to handle it. He said they would just have to add another shift on top of the extra trucks they would be purchasing. He also talked with residents about their concern regarding trucks overflowing into the neighborhood.

"The spillover onto the streets would only be if there was a log jam as far as having the scales on sight. Being able to scale, dump and get out, there’s a requirement in the contract to be under 25 minutes and that’s a relatively quick get in and get out," Brown said.

Melton is planning on touring both facilities in order to make an informed decision.