For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Metro Council will re-evaluate where a significant portion of garbage from greater Portland goes.
This fall, Metro will seek new proposals for the disposal of garbage handled at Metro Central and Metro South transfer stations, starting in 2020. At the same time, Metro will seek new transportation proposals for delivering garbage to landfills starting in 2020.
Since the early 1990s, Metro has promised 90 percent of the Portland area’s landfill-bound garbage, after recovery and waste reduction efforts are made, to Waste Management for disposal in one of its landfills. Much of that garbage ends up at Columbia Ridge Landfill near Arlington, Ore., about 150 miles east of Portland.
This contract has been extended twice and will expire at the end of 2019, providing an opportunity for the region to reevaluate where this garbage goes and how it gets there. On Tuesday, July 18, the Metro Council will begin discussing criteria for evaluating forthcoming landfill and transportation proposals that seek to answer these questions, likely for many years to come.
New proposals to address about 40 percent of the garbage
Metro Central and Metro South are only two of the seven solid waste transfer stations located within Metro’s jurisdictional boundary, but they handle about 40 percent of the greater Portland area’s garbage, currently about 500,000 tons per year.
Metro’s next landfill contract will pertain only to garbage delivered to Metro Central and Metro South. Metro’s next transportation contract will affect only how garbage from those two transfer stations is delivered to one or two chosen landfills. The other five transfer stations, which are owned by private companies and regulated by Metro, will be free to send waste to other disposal sites, subject to some limitations. These private-sector transfer stations also make their own transportation arrangements.
Cost, impacts, support likely considerations
Four landfills were prequalified for this procurement through a Request for Qualifications issued in June. These landfills will be the only landfills eligible to submit a formal proposal for Metro’s consideration. To pre-qualify, each landfill had to demonstrate that it has capacity to accept up to 30 years’ worth of the greater Portland area’s garbage and has, or will have by January 2020, the ability to convert methane generated from the decaying waste in its landfill into either electricity or fuels.
For the transportation contract, Metro is open to considering proposals to send garbage to a landfill by truck, rail or barge. Companies proposing to offer any of these transportation services will need to demonstrate how they could serve the prequalified landfills. Proposals are likely to be evaluated not only on costs and environmental impacts, but also on whether a contract with Metro would have community support, whether such contracts would be consistent with Metro’s diversity and equity strategy, and on operational approach and experience. On Tuesday, the Metro Council will be asked to weigh in on the relative importance of the draft criteria in the scoring of transportation proposals.
The criteria for choosing among the four landfills are likely to include considerations around costs, community support, environmental impacts and operational experience. On Tuesday, Aug. 1, the Metro Council will be asked to weigh in on the relative importance of the draft criteria in the scoring of landfill proposals.
Following these two Metro Council work sessions, drafts of the RFPs will be available on Metro’s website for public comment for 30 days starting in mid August. The public will be invited to comment on any aspect of the draft RFPs.
The final RFPs will be issued later in the fall, with selections of the chosen landfill(s) and transportation company to be made next spring. Metro Council will then consider the new landfill and transportation contracts in fall 2018 and, if approved, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.