Extended Covanta Contract Lowers Refuse Tipping Fees

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

covanta_logoA group of towns—the so-called “The Covanta 7” that includes Bedford, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough and Westford—has reached an agreement with the Covanta Energy incineration company of Haverhill that will lower current and future tipping fees and save Bedford $160,000 (approx.) between now and 2018. Savings calculations are based on an expected 4,000 tons of trash annually but could be higher or lower, depending on whether refuse weights increase or decline. [Refuse, in this case, is defined by anything not recycled, aka “trash.”]

Under the current Covanta contract without the agreed-to amendments, Bedford would have to pay $73.00 per ton of refuse. After the amendments, the new contract’s price per ton drops to $71.00 through December 2013, then is lowered once again to $65.00 through June 30, 2014. Rates are then slated to fluctuate between $68.00 and $70.0 per ton per contract year until June 30, 2018. This compares to the previous fee schedule that would have seen fees between $73.00 and $81.00 for the same time period.

One other change to the contract includes Covanta’s request for “first refusal” rights in the event that the town moves towards organics recycling. As written in a memo by DPW Director Roy Sorenson to Town Manager Rick Reed, “ (I)t is anticipated in future years, as commercial entities become required to separate food waste, that the Town may have the opportunity to implement a separate program to dispose of organic waste generated by households. If the town chooses to collect food waste separately from trash, Covanta will have the right to match the pricing and terms offered by other disposal or processing facilities and the Town [would] deliver the food waste to them.”

After the amended contract’s clauses are edited so that they match numerically with the current contract, the Selectmen give Town Manager Reed the authority to sign the document on the Town’s behalf.

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