By a 5-1 vote at the April 25 village board meeting, River Forest officials approved a new five-year waste hauling contract with Lakeshore Recycling Systems LLC. Trustee Katie Brennan cast the negative vote.

Approval was expected at the April 11 village board meeting but was tabled after officials were unable to resolve concerns regarding language in the contract related to opt-out composting and a possible unlimited household waste removal day.

The village’s existing contract, originally signed with Roy Strom Refuse and Removal Services Inc. in 2015, will expire May 1. The village has contracted with Strom since at least 1988 until the firm was purchased by Lakeshore in 2020.

Although the opt-out composting issue was resolved by changing wording in the contract to allow the village and Lakeshore to enter negotiations “at any time” as opposed to year three of the contract, officials were unable to overcome Brennan’s objection to inclusion of an “unlimited household waste removal day” section, which she described as a day when residents can “throw anything they want into the landfill.”

Under a proposed revision of that section, a sentence referring to Lakeshore working with the village “to divert as much material from landfills as possible” did not change Brennan’s contention that the section should be deleted, nor did Trustee Erika Bachner’s suggestion that the section heading be changed to “Unlimited household waste and recycling removal day.” Both changes were included in the contract that was approved.

Brennan argued such issues as composting, household hazardous waste removal and electronic recycling were addressed elsewhere in the contract and asked, “Why do we need this?” 

Under terms of the proposed contract, refuse and recycling rates will be frozen at $30.29 per month in the first year with annual increases of 3 percent in each of the following four years. Three options of compost collection will be offered, a 35-gallon cart for $13 per month; a 64-gallon cart for $15 per month; and a 96-gallon cart for $17 per month.  All options are at a lower rate than the current rate of $20.87. Composting rates will also increase 3 percent annually.

Two at-home collections of household hazardous waste and two at-home collections of electronic recycling are included in the base contract at no additional cost, services not included in the current contract.

In addition, Lakeshore will conduct multiple education campaigns, including an introductory/informational video; HHW/E-Waste postcard mailer; and food waste education marketing and semi-annual informational mailers in the first year and an annual informational mailer and HHW/E-Waste postcard mailer in subsequent years.

Lakeshore also will provide increased customer service tracking and add staff to help coordinate River Forest customer service responses.

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