Garbage Service Background Information

Ten years ago, before Santa Rosa County franchised waste hauling, there were numerous haulers operating in the county, illegal dumping was a widespread issue and residents paid on average about $75 per quarter for waste hauling services (which did not include recycling, yard waste or bulk item disposal).

Santa Rosa County created a franchise arrangement for the south end of the county in 2011: Waste Pro in the Midway/Gulf Breeze area and Waste Management in the Holley/Navarre area were the selected providers. Subsequently, in 2014 the franchise arrangement was expanded to the north end of the county and ECUA was selected to provide the service.

Moving to a franchised system was positive for the county. Instead of having numerous different haulers servicing neighborhoods (on an almost daily basis) it was reduced to one. Garbage trucks are among the heaviest vehicles on the road, weighing as much as 80,000 pounds each. Storm drains get crushed, potholes form, and roads deteriorate with heavy truck traffic. Additionally, this poses a safety issue for our residents commuting to work and school, or simply running errands. As a result of the franchise agreement, customers have access to bulk item disposal and illegal dumping has gone down significantly resulting in our county roads being cleaner.

Waste Management, who originally was awarded the Navarre area franchise, chose to discontinue their contract with the county three years ago and Waste Pro stepped in to service Holley/Navarre. Earlier this year ECUA notified Santa Rosa County that they were not going to renew the franchise agreement with Santa Rosa County.

County staff worked with a consultant to determine the level of service and the necessary contract revisions to the franchise agreement(s) to improve quality and compliance in order to improve existing service. Increasing yard trash pickup from every other week to weekly based on the history and use, continuing the bulk item disposal, providing additional illegal dumping response capacity, and tightening contract provisions to ensure quality service were all identified. Another key part of improving customer service includes requiring the hauler to provide all new equipment, including trucks, for the county. This requires them to invest about $15 million in their operations and will keep our streets cleaner and the service more reliable. To keep the cost increase as low as possible, the household garbage schedule was reduced to one time per week which is in line with many of our neighboring communities in Florida including Escambia County, the city of Gulf Breeze and the city of Pensacola which have had once per week trash pickup for years.

The most recent changes in the new and amended contract provides for pickup of two cans of trash per week on a single day. The new yard waste can may be used for household garbage in addition to the regular garbage can. The yard waste is also primarily for “green waste” (grass clippings, leaves, sticks, etc.), so customers will no longer have to bag leaves and grass clippings. Yard waste will be picked up weekly rather than every other week and customers can still bundle yard debris as well. Bulk item disposal is still included in the service.

Recycling has become a drain on landfill operations. In 2018, China by and large stopped buying recyclables. The market for recyclables has dried up and as a result, there is very little demand for the material. Recycling, while a noble effort, is in many instances throughout the country not what most people think it is. Many communities simply landfill the recyclable material in a landfill with a methane gas recapture system and that meets the standard for recycling. Plastic and cardboard aren’t turned into new bottles and boxes, but landfilled along with regular garbage and given recycle credit for the methane the landfill generates. The county has been subsidizing recycling efforts for years, costing taxpayers about $350,000 annually. By making recycling a subscription service, those who want to recycle can continue to do so, but it will not be subsidized by those who do not want the service.

Our goal is to be able to provide a quality service to our residents at a reasonable rate. The rates under the new contract are $2 per month higher than what customers are paying now, but are commensurate with our neighboring counties/cities. The BOCC and staff will continue to work with the hauler to ensure that the service we are getting will best meet the needs of our residents.