Trash Move Saves OC $500K

OCEAN CITY – It might be a dirty job, but the town of Ocean City found a way to keep the streets as clean as ever, while saving more than a half-million dollars in the process.

Senior Project Manager Dick Malone briefed the Mayor and Council on Monday night on the award of the bid to Pennsylvania-based East Coast Resources (ECR) in the sum of $47.61 per ton that the town will pay for the company to haul the town’s trash to a waste-to-energy incinerator plant in Chester, Pa.

“When I started this process in November, and ECR came to me desiring a tour of our facility, I didn’t think that this would happen,” said Malone, “but when they came back with the price, I started to take the idea up the flagpole and the savings really started to add up.”

The council praised Malone’s work to find the company, which will make daily trips to Ocean City’s 65th Street transfer station and will load all of the town’s solid waste from the station and drive two hours north to the Philadelphia suburb where the trash will be incinerated and transformed into renewable electricity.

“Dick, you did a great job on this, and I know you’ve been working a long time on this, but it is notable that this move will save the town of Ocean City upwards of $550,000 the first year,” said Mayor Rick Meehan.

In addition to the savings that the town will enjoy, the Worcester County landfill will also see an increase in its lifespan, as the town provides roughly 40 percent of all the trash brought to the landfill, according to Malone.

The decision to go with an outside company, however, will remove the almost $1.5 million that the town paid to Worcester County in tipping fees alone last year.

Last year, Ocean City paid $60 per ton to Worcester County, and in 2010, the fees were going to be raised to $65 per ton.  Malone said that in addition to the tipping fee, the town also spent about $20 per ton to haul the trash to the landfill, so the $85 cost per ton for the town, is nearly double the amount it will now pay to ECR to haul and dispose of the resort’s trash at $47.61 per ton.

“We looked at about eight companies who had responded to the Request For Proposal (RFP) and ECR probably had a bit of an advantage because they could make multiple trips a day since they are only two hours away from us”, said Malone. “But, I toured every one of the facilities, and the ECR facility is top class, and they also have two backup incinerators in Virginia, as well as a landfill in Virginia if the Chester site every encountered a problem.”

ECR’s Covanta waste-to-energy incinerator burns almost 3200 tons of trash each day, and according to Malone, needed Ocean City’s trash to keep that quota, since in the summer months, much of the Philadelphia region that the company services, is ironically down at the shore.

“Everything in trash works on a bell curve, and they have a lull in the amount of trash they collect in the city during the summer, and coincidentally, that’s when we have the most trash, so I think that’s why we got such a great price,” said Malone.

Though some may argue that from an environmental standpoint, burning trash is not the most “green” initiative for the town to pursue, Malone said that the new incinerators that ECR uses, produce “tremendous amounts of electricity, and filter everything so much that only heat comes out of the smoke stacks.”

Ocean City creates 32,000 tons of trash each year, according to Malone, which in comparison, New York City creates that sum daily.

“The trash business is a very competitive one, and putting burnable trash in a landfill when there are other options, is not the smartest thing that we could do right now”, he said.

Malone said that the local trash pickup will remain the same and that residents and visitors will see little change in the way the trash is removed.

“Every government and municipality are struggling right now, so being able to hand our local government almost $600,000 in savings, is something that you just can’t pass up in these times”, said Malone.