Juneau stuck in the middle of garbage fight

City officials are frustrated by stalled changes to Juneau’s solid waste system. City Manager Rod Swope says Juneau can’t make any improvements until two private companies work out their issues over the collection and disposal of garbage.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska recently rejected an Alaska Pacific Environmental Services proposal to barge Juneau’s trash to the Lower 48 instead of putting it in the landfill. The company also wanted to implement a curbside recycling program. APES operates Juneau’s garbage collection company Arrow Refuse.

When APES announced the plan in September, it caught city officials and landfill operator Waste Management by surprise. With news of the regulatory commission’s rejection of the APES application, Swope hopes Waste Management will be able to rekindle a city-backed effort to expand recycling services at the dump.

“I’m very hopeful they’ll be able to work things out at least to the point where they’re willing to extend the contract at least for another year to give everybody more time to try to figure some of this stuff out. The city’s pretty much caught in the middle right now,” says Swope.

Arrow’s contract with Waste Management expires in December 2012. Landfill Manager Eric Vance says the two companies are talking, but declined comment since he’s not involved in the negotiations.

In denying Alaska Pacific Environmental Services’ application to barge trash and provide curbside recycling, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s staff wrote that the “proposed revisions collectively… represent a rate redesign,” which requires a cost of service study. No such study was included in the company’s application.

Officials from APES did not return calls seeking comment.

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