LIVINGSTON, NJ — Since beginning as Livingston Township’s new garbage collector on Sept. 1, Recycled Track System (RTS) has experienced some growing pains that Township Manager Barry Lewis recently explained after hearing many questions and complaints from residents.
Although most residents were satisfied with former collector Waste Industries, Lewis clarified that the township’s five-year contract with Waste Industries was set to expire on Aug. 31, 2020 and that RTS emerged as the lowest bidder while also providing a lower price for residents looking to pay separately for rear-yard pickup.
He also explained that the main issues seen during the new collector’s first week on the job—such arriving later in the day than some residents were used to and missing some streets entirely on certain days—was partially due to RTS becoming familiar with the size of the town, but also due to a series of discrepancies with the former garbage collector.
“Any time you have a new contract and a new company coming into town, it's understandable that there's going to be some missed routes and some delays,” said Lewis. “This situation was sort of the perfect storm because the prior collector, Waste Industries, had actually filed a lawsuit challenging the award to RTS, which kind of delayed RTS from being able to fully commit…It wasn't until less than two weeks remained that Waste Industries withdrew the lawsuit—so there was obviously less time that they had to prepare…
“Another problem is that Waste Industries refused to share their collection route, so we only had the districts but not the actual routes and street orders. Waste Industries said it was proprietary and refused to share it, so [RTS] had to start from scratch in deciding what's the most efficient route within each district...Obviously, for consistency purposes, we tried to get Waste Industries to provide their routes, and they declined to do so.
“Similarly, and even though the contract specs said we were supposed to quarterly be getting a list of rear-yard collection accounts, Waste Industries refused to provide us with that list and has been claiming for weeks that their computers are down. So that created a difficulty—because instead of RTS having already the full database of all the existing rear-yard customers, […] they basically had to start from scratch and basically had two weeks to try and start signing people up.”
Lewis mentioned that continuing to provide a rear-yard pickup option for an additional price was a priority when the township went out to bid on a new contract.
“We included in the specifications what we have had in the past, which is basically to get a price for individual residents to separately pay for rear-yard collection both for one and three cans,” said Lewis, adding that Waste Industries was the other qualified company to submit a bid. “I know [rear-yard collection] is something that is very helpful to our seniors, and we have received a number of calls from the seniors because there were some issues […] in terms of the registration and sign up, but also the contract came in.”
He also explained the difference in pricing between the two companies for both overall garbage collection and rear-yard pickup—concluding that RTS provided a more substantial savings for the township and the average homeowner in Livingston.
“For the three-year contract, Waste Industries was almost $1.5 million higher than RTS,” he said. “We're legally obligated to accept the lowest bid as long as they're responsive and qualified to do it; so we had to choose RTS, but we would have anyway because of the huge cost difference.
“The average assessed home would have seen an extra $120 in taxes with the higher Waste Industries contract…Then for years four and five, the difference got even bigger. Year four was $546,000 higher for Waste Industries and then $576,000.”
If the township had accepted the full five-year contract with Waste Industries, Lewis said the total additional cost would have been nearly $2.6 million “and amounting to $212 in additional taxes on the average home.”
For rear-yard pickup, Lewis stated that RTS bid $375 per month for either one or three cans, whereas Waste Industries bid “$30 and $35 for one and three cans in the first three years and then went up to $35 and $40.”
“So on an annual basis, under any scenario, RTS had a lower rear-yard than Waste Industries,” he said. “We do understand that it's an $8.75 per month increase. We're trying to work with RTS to see if there's any room to negotiate an amendment to get maybe a little lower amount for the one can, which seems to be what the seniors really need. We'll do all we can.”
Lewis reiterated that RTS has been “very cooperative and very responsive” and is also “trying to address the issues.”
“Quite frankly, I think they're just overwhelmed by the size of the town compounded by these issues that I just discussed,” he said, alluding again to the lawsuit and the lack of information provided by the previous collector. “So, again, we just appreciate all the residents’ continuing patience…Hopefully they're going to settle into a schedule and you'll begin to know that they come around noon even if it used to be at 9 a.m.”
Residents are urged to contact RTS directly at --- with any questions or concerns about their solid waste pickup.
All residents who want to sign up for or continue back-door or rear-yard pickup services for garbage must contact RTS at LivingstonRY@rts.com or 1-833-RTS-LVTN (1-833-787-5886) to register. These contacts can also be used for general customer service inquiries or to report a missed pickup.
Livingston residents are urged to know their section and garbage/recycling days for scheduled pickups. CLICK HERE to view Livingston sections and zones according to street name, or CLICK HERE to view the Livingston Garbage Collection Zones Map, which is color coded according to days of the week.
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