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Case Studies

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City of San José

Commercial Solid Waste System Redesign (2007-2012)

Project Background

In 2007, the City of San José adopted a set of “Green Vision Goals” designed to transform San José over 15 years into a center of clean technology innovation and sustainable practices. Among the goals was a Zero Waste goal of diverting 100% of municipal solid waste from landfills and of converting waste to energy. The City quickly realized that to achieve such a goal required significantly increasing commercial diversion performance. The non-exclusive commercial collection system, with about 20 haulers, was yielding a diversion level of about 26% (excluding construction and demolition debris and third party recycling efforts). San José was interested in redesigning the system with a focus on providing expanded and more-efficient collection services, stabilizing City revenues of over $14 million per year, and achieving higher diversion levels.

Project Results

HF&H staff served as an integral part of the City's team for this multi-year project on a day-to-day basis, playing a lead role in planning and managing the contractor evaluation and selection process with staff from Environmental Services, City Attorney’s Office and Purchasing, including facilitating two rating panels consisting of City staff, staff from Santa Clara County cities, and the business community in evaluating and scoring the proposals.

In April 2011, the Council approved selection of Allied Waste to provide exclusive, City-wide collection services using the “One Bin Plus” system, a variant of two-sort collection, and Zero Waste Energy Development (an affiliate of Green Waste Recovery) to provide dry anaerobic digestion using a German technology. HF&H assisted in negotiating final agreements with the two companies and assisted during the transition in anticipating issues and developing means to avoid them or to minimize their impact. New collection and processing services commenced July 1, 2012, and in April 2013, San Jose announced that the rate of business diversion had tripled since July 2012, well on the way to meeting system goals. The anaerobic digestion facility was developed on leased City land adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant and began initial operation in late 2013. The process has achieved the City’s key goals for increased diversion, technology innovation, revenue stability, and rate equity.