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Mill Creek gearing up to help businesses reduce garbage fees

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Mill Creek’s new contract with Waste Management Northwest goes into effect on July 1, 2015. Residential customers will see significantly lower garbage collection rates, but the rates will be about the same for commercial accounts.
Mill Creek businesses now have only a 20% recycling rate. Photo courtesy of Waste Management Northwest.

By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.

Mill Creek’s new contract with Waste Management goes into effect on July 1, 2015.

Residential customers will see significantly lower garbage collection rates, but the rates will be about the same for commercial accounts.

However, businesses have an opportunity to save because their recycling collection rate drops to zero with the new contract. The more they recycle the more they save.

City of Mill Creek staff worked hard last year to negotiate a new contract with Waste Management via a competitive bidding process.

The Mill Creek City Council went along with former City Manager Ken Armstrong’s and Public Works Director Tom Gathmann’s recommendation to execute a new solid waste collection contract at their regular meeting on November 25, 2014.

The total yearly savings for the entire city is estimated to be approximately $240,000. A resident who uses one 32-gallon garbage cart, one 64-gallon recycling cart, and one 96-gallon yard waste cart will save about $45 per year. Click here for a table showing the new rates.

According to Director Gathmann, Mill Creek’s single-family residences recycle pretty well with a 61% waste diversion rate. This means on average out of every 100 pounds of waste produced, 61 pounds goes into the recycle and yard waste carts.

Director Gathmann said that commercial accounts recycle less, with a 20% diversion rate. Because of this he said the new contract, “provides a unique opportunity to undertake an education program directed at Mill Creek businesses to help them take advantage of the contract changes, utilize the new no-cost recycling service, and ultimately reduce their costs for garbage collection.”

In order to help Mill Creek businesses take advantage of the new contract, on March 3rd the Mill Creek City Council unanimously approved Director Gathmann's proposal for a two phased business outreach program as follows:

Phase one - Public education and local outreach.

Waste Management will tell Mill Creek businesses about the savings they can achieve by conducting a public education and local outreach program in May and June of this year. This will be done at no cost to the City as part of the contractually mandated “transition plan.”

This will be a good foundation-building exercise explaining the recycling advantages, but is a one-time effort with limited follow-up.

Phase two - Business outreach.

This effort will start when the new contract comes into effect in July and will continue for two years. A private contractor hired by the City will work one-on-one with Mill Creek businesses to help them get the most out of the free recycling service.

A Coordinated Prevention Grant (CPG) program available to Mill Creek through the Washington State Department of Ecology will fund 75% of the effort. Mill Creek has never applied for or received this grant.

According to Director Gathmann, this CPG program was authorized by the Washington State Legislature to minimize environmental contamination and is funded by the Model Toxic Control Act. He said that Snohomish County shares its CPG allocation to cities within the county and Mill Creek is eligible for up to $35,557, which requires a 25% match.

This means the cost to Mill Creek for phase two of the business outreach would be $8,889 and the grant would be $26,668 for a total cost of $35,557.

Other Snohomish County cities that are now receiving CPG funds and plan to submit applications for the 2015-2017 grant cycle include Arlington, Bothell, Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville, Stanwood and Sultan.

CPG funding approval for the 2015-2017 will be decided by the Washington State Legislature in the next few months. Phase two of the Mill Creek's business outreach will begin in July if the funding is approved.

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