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Leaders testify on upcoming garbage contract, plastic bag ban that have lasting effects on the environment

April 24th, 2019

Members of the OTOC Environmental Sustainability Action Team testified Tuesday at two different public hearings at the city council. The first hearing was for the Mayor’s proposed garbage contract. After several years of study, a request for Bids (RFB) was put out, and four companies submitted different bids in January 2019. The Mayor and a working group put together a recommendation to accept a bid by company FCC that would have 2 type of waste pick up- 1 combined garbage and yard-waste and 1 recycling bin. OTOC Leaders testified Tuesday afternoon in opposition to this bid, calling for the need to have separate yard waste.

The vote for the Garbage Contract is scheduled for June 4 (read more here)

See news coverage of the hearing:

OWH: Omahans commenting on mayor’s proposed trash contract say they expect more out of the suggested changes

OWH: Mayor stands by two-cart trash proposal as Omahans, City Council members pick it apart

KETV Channel 7: City council discusses proposed trash collection plan for hours

KMTV Channel 3: Homeowners urge city to reconsider Omaha’s next waste contract

OTOC is opposed to this bid by FCC because it calls for trash and yard waste to be commingled and sent to the Pheasant Point Landfill.

  • The bid from FCC for three carts (one each for trash, yard waste and recycling) is $28.6M while to cost of two carts (one which mixes trash and yard waste and one for recycling) is $22.7M per year.  The cost to separate trash from yard waste is only $5.9 Million or 78 cents per household per week. ($5.9M divided by 145,000 households)

  • Most people surveyed in the 2016 survey favored the separation of yard waste and trash. Is it not worth the small amount per household per week to choose the most environmentally sound option of separating trash and yard waste?
  • We don’t need a yard waste collection policy that encourages illegal dumping. Some frustrated residents will illegally dump their excess yard waste in alleys, vacant lots and elsewhere. Omaha already has a serious litter problem, and only one 96-gallon bin a week for garbage and ward waste is not enough space in growing seasons.
  • The more yard waste we send to the landfill, the more methane gas our trash/yard waste will produce. Methane is 72 times more destructive of our climate than CO2 over a 20 year period. Methane accounts for roughly 1/3 of heat capture that contributes to global warming.
  • Our landfill collects methane from completed waste cells to generate electricity, but there is already such an abundance of methane that they have to burn the excess in flairs, creating more C02. More commingling of trash/yard waste means even more methane released into the environment or flared.

Also at Tuesday’s Council Meeting, OTOC leaders also supported Council Member Festersen’s Ordinance to ban plastic bags at some retailers.

The vote for this ordinance is scheduled for May 21 (read more here)

In the News:

OWH: Mayor Stothert, Omahans weigh in on proposed plastic bag ban

KETV Channel 7: A mixed bag: Public, officials sound off on Omaha’s proposed plastic bag ban

OTOC supports the city ordinance to ban certain plastic bags or Ban the Bag. 

  • There is a growing concern that single-use plastic bags are creating a pollution problem not only locally, but globally. Only 9% of all plastic is recycled.  The average working life of a single-use plastic bag from checkout to household is 12 minutes. This ordinance would save about 280 million plastic bags per year in Omaha Metro area alone.
  • Plastic bags are often mistaken for food by animals, birds, and fish. The bags are carried by streams and rivers and eventually end up in the oceans, threatening the lives of aquatic animals and fish. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now twice the size of Texas. If we continue our dependence on plastics at the current rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish.

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