Waste Management’s takeover of Ann Arbor recycling plant sparks concerns

Source: Ryan Stanton, MLive.com, August 12, 2016

Texas-based Waste Management Inc. has stepped in to run and evaluate Ann Arbor’s recycling plant for at least six weeks, a move that has some local environmentalists concerned. Mike Garfield, director of the Ecology Center, and Margie Teall, a former City Council member who serves on the Recycle Ann Arbor board of directors, have questioned the city’s decision to hire Waste Management after the city dropped its previous recycling plant operator. They argue Waste Management views recycling as a threat to landfill profits and isn’t the right partner for a city that wants to significantly increase recycling. … The City Council approved a $295,690 emergency purchase order for Waste Management’s services for six weeks on Aug. 4, ratifying actions taken by the city’s administration last month after firing the previous plant operator. City officials say the arrangement with Waste Management is only short term at this time, and they’re putting out a request for proposals for longer-term operation of the plant, so any interested companies can compete for the contract, including Waste Management. … The city terminated its longstanding contract with North Carolina-based ReCommunity effective July 11, citing safety concerns at the plant. ReCommunity responded by filing a federal lawsuit on July 27, claiming the city just wanted to get out of a contract that wasn’t working financially following a downturn in the recycling market. City officials acknowledge the terms of the contract weren’t entirely favorable for the city in recent times. However, they maintain there were serious safety concerns at the plant, which is known as the Materials Recovery Facility or MRF, at 4150 Platt Road, and those constituted violations of the contract. …