LAWRENCE: Trash contract awarded; no decision on food waste

Township Council awarded a contract to Central Jersey Waste & Recycling Co. to pick up household trash that will save an estimated $305,000 over the next five years, but it held off on awarding a

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
   Township Council awarded a contract to Central Jersey Waste & Recycling Co. to pick up household trash that will save an estimated $305,000 over the next five years, but it held off on awarding a contract for the curbside pickup of organic food waste last week.
   Township Council awarded the $3.8 million contract at its Nov. 7 meeting. The new contract begins Dec. 1, 2013, and ends Nov. 30, 2017. The present contract — also with Central Jersey Waste & Recycling Co. — expires in November 2014, but allows for the awarding of a new contract earlier than the expiration date.
   The new contract includes an option for the collection and disposal of food waste, but Township Council postponed its decision on that option, based on a recommendation by Municipal Manager Richard Krawczun. The council has 60 days to award a contract for that option.
   Mr. Krawczun advised holding off on the food waste option until after a Nov. 26 public hearing on an amendment to the Mercer County District Solid Waste Management Plan. He said he had learned of the proposed amendment Oct. 31.
   The amendment would allow Trenton Biogas LLC to accept and process up to 450 tons of organic food waste daily at a Mercer County owned property on Lamberton Road. It has a lease/purchase agreement in place with the Mercer County Improvement Authority, which is in charge of managing all solid waste generated within Mercer County.
   Under the Central Jersey Waste & Recycling Co. contract, organic food waste — which would be picked up separately from household trash — would be taken to a site in Delaware for composting. Hauling it to a site closer to home might save money, but the Lamberton Road site likely will not be operational until late 2014 or early 2015, Mr. Krawczun said.
   To implement the organic food waste program, a minimum of 300 households would have to sign up and have their food waste collected in a separate container, Mr. Krawczun said. It will cost each household $17 per month to participate, but it could save about $19,000 in trash collection fees because there would be less trash going into the landfill, he said.
   When Councilman Michael Powers asked whether Lawrence Township could begin promoting the organic waste recycling program, Mr. Krawczun said that it would be a good idea to create a committee of residents and staff to coordinate how the information gets out to the public.
   Tahirih Smith and Chris Ahlers, who are involved with Sustainable Lawrence, said the nonprofit group supports the effort to divert more waste from going into the landfill. Ms. Smith, who is the executive director, said the group is “very happy this going forward. We support it.”
   Resident Elana Broch said she is not affiliated with Sustainable Lawrence, but she attended the council meeting to express her support for the organic food waste recycling program. She said it is something she had always wanted to do, but never got around to doing it.
   ”My main concern is the cost,” Ms. Broch said. The cost could be a deterrent, she said, pointing out that Princeton has a similar organic waste recycling program and that it took time to get it off the ground partly because of the cost to residents.
   Councilman Stephen Brame agreed that the cost in Princeton was high, but it was a matter of the economy of scale. As more households signed up, the cost went down. He said he hoped that Lawrence could obtain an economy of scale so that the cost would come down.