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[greenyes] NYC's Recycling Program: Just the facts

Setting aside Mr. Hammer's expressed vested interest in the proposal which
was not selected by the Department of Sanitation, Mr. Hammer misleads the
readership of this listserve when he asserts that the team of proposers in
which he participated had a "price substantially better than Hugo Neu's,"
and that as a result, "Sanitation will be spending tens of millions of
dollars more over the life of the contract than they needed to."

The Proposals we received were evaluated based on overall quality in terms
of ability to handle the tonnages we collect at existing and planned
facilities, sound marketing plans, and total system costs to the Department
of Sanitation, including transportation. Using these criteria, Hugo Neu was
clearly superior to others who proposed, and for this reason they were

Nor is Mr. Hammer correct in his claim that opening up the Proposal process
to smaller processors would have resulted in lower costs or other benefits
to the City. It may seem axiomatic that more competition is always better,
but over ten years of DSNY contracting with smaller processors in NYC had
not proven this to be the case. And despite expressions of interest over the
years by small firms seeking specialized segments of our commingled stream
(separated glass, plastics) no other small firms proved that they had the
capacity to carry out primary processing reliably and in tonnages that would
make it cost effective for us to deliver to them. Perhaps similar
constraints explain why two of the nation's recycling leaders (San Francisco
and Seattle) contract with small numbers of large firms (one, and two,
respectively). Economies of scale clearly apply.

In reality, the way that the City's contract with Hugo Neu will be
structured will ensure that metal, glass and plastic will be recycled at the
least cost to the city possible in this part of the country, over the long
term. The entire purpose of issuing the RFP that we did was to secure a
stable, cost-effective basis upon which to move forward with recycling and
other forms of waste prevention, reuse and waste reduction in the future.
It is ironic that with this milestone achieved Mr. Hammer, and others, have
so much negative to say about recycling in New York City.

Robert Lange


Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse & Recycling

City of New York Department of Sanitation

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