CHEVY CHASE – With no votes on the agenda, Chevy Chase Village’s board of managers devoted its village meeting on Jan. 15 entirely to concerns over their refuse & recycling program, deciding, after some debate, to continue their current contract until June 30.
The refuse & recycling program, which had traditionally picked up recyclables including glass, plastic and paper from residential curbs, ended glass pick-up in November, a decision by the village’s recycling pick-up contractor, Goode Companies, due to it being a safety hazard at their facility.
Instead, residents have to either drive or walk up to the village hall to drop off their glass for the public works to deliver directly to Montgomery County recycling facilities.
“We have heard from about a dozen residents who are really unhappy about the current set-up,” Shana Davis-Cook, the village manager, said.
Frustrations, Cook said, were expressed over the phone, so it’s unclear what sort of demographic is particularly upset with the drop-off.
Cook presented the village two options: continue the contract with Goode until June, or commission Montgomery County Sanitation, who may or may not be ready to start pick-ups by the time Chevy Chase Village terminates Goode’s contract, as it would require a new pick-up truck.
“I disagree that the glass is the primary issue,” Treasurer Gary Crockett said. “I think the primary issue is that we can’t trust this contractor.”
In recent weeks, Goode had requested a change in their contract to keep up with costs, reducing their pick-up schedule for paper and plastic from two days a week to one. But when the village attempted to look further into why this request was necessary, Goode refused and dropped the request.
At the same time, Goode is also looking to get out of their contract with Chevy Chase Town, which is not supposed to end until 2022. The board of managers worries that Goode will try to do the same with them, putting further urgency into the decision.
But many managers disagreed that it was worth terminating if they could not secure another contractor.
“No, we’re not scrambling,” Elissa Leonard, the village chair, said.
“I think we also believe that there may be some transitions in order in the future,” she added.
The greater issue the village realized, however, regarded the future of recycling as a whole, and whether the bids the village opened up would be able to keep up with global trends for greener, more sustainable municipalities.
Chevy Chase Village currently operates in single-stream recycling, in which paper, plastic, and glass are collected and recycled at once.
Most other municipalities operate in dual-stream, in which paper is collected separately of plastic and glass. While village residents are used to this system, the board believes they will likely have to transition to dual-stream, given the lack of available services that offer single-stream.
“This whole area…is in a great state of flux,” Crockett said. “There are all sorts of changes that are occurring in the world of recycling and landfills and composting.”
Crockett held concerns over whether the village’s expectations would push it into a corner as fewer and fewer facilities and contractors were able to meet its demands.
“We have to be more flexible,” Crockett said.
Deciding to continue the contract with Goode until the end of June, the board agreed to discuss the matter once they better understood the county’s recycling process and the state of single and dual-stream recycling. Until then, residents will continue to drop off their glass at the village hall.