Alameda Stakeholder Workshop

R3 was engaged by the City of Alameda (City) to conduct a Zero Waste Implementation Plan Update (ZWIP Update) for the City and assess Alameda’s progress towards its target of 89% diversion by 2020. R3’s primary objective was to evaluate and expand upon the City’s current diversion strategies, and introduce new methods to increase waste diversion as needed to help the community reach its goals.

For this project, R3 performed a detailed analysis of Alameda’s diversion and disposal since implementation of the ZWIP starting in 2011, and found that – based on historic trends in population growth and waste reduction –  the City would fall 6% short of its 2020 goal. As such, R3 recommended a revised zero waste goal date of 2022 for adoption by the City, and developed subsequent achievement metrics and timeline for implementation.

Based on identification of opportunities to reduce waste sent to landfill, R3 developed a recommended set of Zero Waste strategies with high potential for diversion via maximization of source-separation diversion programs, including multi-family and commercial waste, food recovery and organics management, and construction and demolition debris. R3 calculated the City’s estimated costs and potential rate impacts for each strategy with projected implementation over a 5-year planning horizon. The strategies were selected to maximize diversion within a short timeframe and to yield reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to support the City’s Local Action Plan for Climate Protection, and were developed in response to community feedback emphasizing the importance of Zero Waste culture and source separation.

As a result of our recommendations, City approved $300,000 in funds per year for technical assistance to commercial and multi-family customers.

Other project benefits included the City gaining:

  • Comprehensive evaluation of the City’s current ZWIP’s progress and effectiveness;
  • Recommendation of a revised Zero Waste goal date for the City to achieve its diversion goal;
  • A set of priority Zero Waste strategies which, when combined with continued implementation of the City’s ZWIP, are estimated to result in approximately 15,600 tons of additional diversion per year – the amount by which Alameda needs to reduce its landfill disposal in order to meet its goal;
  • Support for Alameda’s Local Action Plan for Climate Protection through Zero Waste strategies that target food waste and other organic waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Recommendations for updating the Plan regarding Zero Waste; and
  • Calculation of the City’s estimated costs and potential rate impacts for each Zero Waste strategy and projected implementation over a 5-year planning horizon.
MTWS Performance Review for Los Altos - Project Analysts Claire Wilson and Ryan Calkins

Performance Review

R3 was engaged by the City of Los Altos (City) to conduct a Performance and Billing Review of Mission Trail Waste Solutions (MTWS) as included under their Collections Service Agreement (Agreement) to provide solid waste, recycling, and organic collection services for the City. R3’s high level review of MTWS consisted of two main tasks: a performance review and a financial compliance assessment. The primary goal was to determine MTWS’ compliance with the applicable terms and conditions of the Agreement, review the effectiveness of current operations; and identify opportunities for program improvement.

R3 worked with MTWS management and City staff to assess MTWS’ compliance with the reporting requirements and performance standards of the Agreement, as well as verify customer billing rate calculations and service levels, franchise fee calculations, and reported diversion percentages.

R3 utilized a variety of methods in the execution of the performance review, including analysis of relevant documents, on-site and field observations, and interviews. The Performance Review addressed the following major aspects of MTWS’s operations:

  • Collection Service Agreement Compliance Review;
  • Collection Operations Review;
  • Management and Administration Review;
  • Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance, Repair and Replacement Review;
  • Customer Service Review (including customer feedback);
  • Monthly, quarterly and annual report assessment;
  • Diversion Programs, Performances and Good Faith Efforts; and
  • Outreach and Education Services.

R3 conducted the financial compliance assessment to determine that customers are being charged the proper service rate based on their service level; service rate revenues are properly recorded and accounted for by the contractor; franchise fees are properly calculated, paid and received. R3 conducted three tests to accomplish this goal:

  • Test of Subscribers to verify that service subscribers are billed the correct rate for the level of service provided;
  • Test of Revenue Transactions to verify that the billed amounts to City residents and businesses, and the corresponding payments received are properly recorded in the MTWS billing and accounting systems; and
  • Test of Franchise Fee Transactions to verify that the franchise fees are calculated correctly, and based on the correct level of recorded revenues.

Our review found that MTWS is in compliance with the vast majority of the Agreement’s requirements. Collections are performed in a safe, courteous, and cleanly manner; coordination between the drivers, customer service, shop, and management is facilitated by an effective system of work orders; fleet maintenance operations and vehicles have consistently received satisfactory ratings from the California Highway Patrol; and MTWS is operating a sophisticated and professional customer service operation.

We determined that the most significant area for improvement relative to the Agreement’s terms and conditions is in outreach and education, which is not being performed according to the Agreement’s requirements.

Project benefits include:

  • Verification of MTWS’ compliance with the vast majority of the Agreement’s provisions;
  • Recommendations for MTWS’ improved compliance with the existing requirements of the Agreement regarding meeting reporting requirements, outreach and education activities, and paying the City franchise fee and administrative fees; and
  • Recommendations for revisions to the Agreement with regards to HHW collection services, rate requirements, and the billing schedule.

High Diversion Planning

R3 has been working with the City of Los Altos (City) since 2010, when we were originally engaged to provide procurement assistance resulting in the award of the Franchise Agreement (Agreement) with the City’s current hauler, Mission Trail Waste Systems (MTWS), that requires 78% diversion of franchised waste.

In service of our ongoing diversion support for the City, R3 has recently:

  • Completely revised the City’s Solid Waste Ordinance to align with the Agreement with MTWS, facilitated complete subscriber compliance with two State of California Assembly Bills (AB), AB 341 (mandatory multi-family and commercial recycling) and AB 1826 (mandatory commercial organics diversion), and facilitated increased diversion of recyclables and organics from commercial, industrial, and multi-family waste generators;
  • Undertaken an SB 1383 preparedness exercise in which we identified opportunities for the City to obtain needed support from MTWS in complying with the regulations;
  • Assisted the City in identifying enforcement thresholds for mandatory recycling and organics service: drafting enforcement letters which include notification of state law for generators covered under AB 341 and AB 1826, exemption forms, and a self-haul tonnage reporting form; and site visits to covered generators to encourage compliance;
  • Reviewed implementation of services in the field, including lid-flip assessments of waste from the top 50 generators in the City, as well as an assessment of MTWS’s outreach and education pertaining to increased diversion of recyclables and organics;
  • Developed a technical assistance plan and framework in support of the City’s commitment to providing diversion-related technical assistance and outreach;
  • Revised the City’s Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris ordinance in alignment with CALGreen, establishing a system of facility certification;
  • Certified facilities and revised the City’s mandatory building checklist to include the certified facilities and other approved means of compliance such as deconstruction and purchase of a debris box from the City’s franchised hauler;
  • Conducted a street maintenance impact fee study for refuse vehicles used in the City; and
  • Completed the City’s Electronic Annual Report to CalRecycle for the reporting years 2016-2019.

R3 has also been engaged to assist the City with contract extension negotiations with MTWS, which includes support for some SB 1383 requirements, including universal roll-out of organics service to all businesses in the City.


SCWMA Solid Waste 101 Training and Presentation

R3 was engaged by Zero Waste Sonoma (ZW Sonoma, formerly known as Sonoma County Waste Management Authority), to provide a Comprehensive Guide and Training for ZW Sonoma staff, Member Agency staff, and Board members. R3’s primary objective was to present ZW Sonoma and its 9 Member Agencies with the information needed to effectively manage their solid waste contracts and navigate the complex solid waste system as it evolves in Sonoma County. This included addressing the potential shift of recyclable material processing capacity and the ongoing arrangements surrounding the organic waste processing facilitated by ZW Sonoma.

R3 developed Comprehensive Guide that describes current solid waste contracts, their terms and conditions, the entities and relationships, and any other unique solid waste system nuances of which Member Agencies should be aware. Intended for long-term use, the guide is a “living document” that can be adapted and updated by ZW Sonoma staff and Member Agencies. The Guide consisted of a reader-friendly informational package with illustrative charts, figures, and tables regarding the solid waste systems in place in Sonoma County.

To develop this Guide, R3 performed the following tasks:

  • Presented the information about the County’s existing solid waste system and analysis of each Member Agency’s individual systems, including legislative updates, customer rate benchmarks, and mechanisms for effectively managing a contract;
  • Provided summaries of the above information for quick and accessible comparison amongst Member Agencies;
  • Provided ZW Sonoma and Member Agencies with a timeline to achieve important diversion milestones and described key activities and their responsible parties in the solid waste industry; and
  • Described applicable solid waste opportunities and innovations that may be available to Member Agencies and ZW Sonoma in the future.

R3 also facilitated two Solid Waste 101 Training Sessions for Sonoma County decision makers that presented the information provided in the Comprehensive Guide in an interactive format and included round-table discussions to address questions and provide solutions for Member Agencies.

As a result of R3’s work, Zero Waste Sonoma gained the following benefits:

  • Presentation of comprehensive information about the history of solid waste in Sonoma County, important solid waste specific legislative updates, customer rate benchmark, and mechanisms for effectively managing a contract;
  • Easy-to-read format enabling immediate utilization by each Member Agency; and
  • An updatable resource for decision makers in Sonoma County to gain a thorough understanding of the current waste management system, the contractual relationships involved both broadly and for their Member Agencies, and how the system may change in the future.

R3 Consulting Group Now Offers:

Disaster Debris Management Planning Assistance to California Cities

No one is ever completely ready to handle a natural disaster, but with our help, you can avoid spending unnecessary funds, resources and time in the event of a disaster. We specialize in creating disaster debris management plans that are unique to your community, meaning you’ll have a plan in place when you need it most. Not only that, but municipalities with disaster debris management plans will be prepared in the event of a disaster, meaning time and energy are maximized, along with potential for FEMA reimbursement if protocols are followed. Let us help you navigate through the complicated process of disaster debris planning and make sure your FEMA reimbursement dollars are maximized.

Last month FEMA extended its Alternative Procedures Pilot Program which allows for up to an extra 2% of federal cost share reimbursement on money spent.  The opportunity to participate in this pilot program will be available through June 2018.  There is no better time than now to start planning.

Once we complete your plan and it is reviewed by FEMA for this program, the municipality will be eligible for this additional 2% reimbursement – money that you would have otherwise been spent out of pocket if no plan was in place.

Our plans are:

  • CalOES Approved
  • FEMA Approved
  • Guaranteed to participate in the Public Assistance Alternative Procedures Pilot Program (time dependent)

FEMA timeline of disaster reimbursement

(Above: FEMA timeline of disaster reimbursement)

More About Our Process

We will consider:

  • The type of disaster(s) that may potentially occur in your community
  • Your staffing levels and who would play certain roles when a disaster occurs
  • Your opportunities for procuring various contracted disaster debris management services
  • Potential sites in your limits that could be used for temporary debris removal and storage
  • Public information examples

Our process includes:

  1. Meeting with you to obtain base level data and confirm expectations of our services
  2. Providing the jurisdiction with a Draft 1 disaster debris management plan (DDMP)
  3. Reviewing the draft DDMP with the jurisdiction
  4. Providing the draft to CalOES, who will review the plan for completeness
  5. Revising the draft based on CalOES comment and provide a new draft to CalOES (this may take multiple iterations)

CalOES will forward the draft plan to FEMA once it has approved the plan. Once FEMA has approved the plan, you’re all set!

DDMPs are essential for:

  • Saving time and money
  • Having a quick and effective response to and preparation for a disaster
  • More efficient use of limited resources, including staff time

“Congratulations – that was an awesome plan. It was the best one I’ve ever reviewed.”   – Melinda Stehr, CalOES

Using our combined experience developing high diversion franchise agreements, designing state-of-the-art, community-based social marketing and outreach methods, and evaluating the effectiveness of solid waste diversion programs throughout California, R3 collaborated with our subconsultant, Cascadia, to prepare the Phase 2 Strategic Plan for High Diversion for the City of Livermore (City). R3’s project approach moved beyond eliminating barriers to diversion by incentivizing achievement of high diversion goals for all parties, including solid waste haulers, processors, and generators. Phase 2 built upon the City’s prior success by enhancing current generator-focused programs and requiring haulers of solid waste to share in both the responsibility and reward for diverting waste from landfills. High diversion program options were assessed based on what would cost effectively divert the most tons from disposal.

Through observation of select diversion programs in the field, interviews with the City, LSI, StopWaste and select waste generators, as well as review of detailed tonnage reports and subscription levels, R3 developed a high-level baseline analysis to measure the effectiveness of current diversion programs. Building on this analysis, R3 developed a recommended set of programs with the greatest potential of diverting waste from landfills during – and beyond – the five-year planning horizon. R3 created a set of recommendations that focus on ways in which the City can enhance the effectiveness of current programs, as well as develop new programs to cost-effectively increase diversion for the City.

Additionally, R3 estimated the amount of additional diversion that could be realized by each of the recommended new programs and estimated the cost for each program and the cost per ton that each program will divert. R3 also performed a high-level evaluation of the relationship between LSI’s rate structure and successful diversion behaviors.

Project benefits the City gained include the following:

  • Identification of opportunities to encourage and reward achievement of high diversion goals for all stakeholders;
  • Strategic planning for higher diversion grounded in a data-driven approach;
  • Pursuit of diversion opportunities that most effectively move tons out of landfills per dollar spent; and
  • Responsibility and reward for diverting waste from landfills is shared between the City and its franchised waste hauler.
Plastic Bales

Zero Waste Plan & Community Engagement

The City of Menlo Park (City) engaged R3 (with subconsultants Abbe & Associates and Cascadia Consulting Group) to assist in the creation of a comprehensive Zero Waste Plan (Plan). Motivation to create a Zero Waste Plan stemmed from implementation of the City’s Climate Action Plan, which named zero waste as a key strategy for reaching the community’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 27% by the year 2020 from 2005 levels.

R3 developed a comprehensive Plan that provided a guide to residential, commercial, and City programs, and included cost estimates for the proposed Zero Waste programs to be incorporated into the rate structure. R3 also prepared an economic analysis and implementation plan, highlighting the Zero Waste Plan steps for 5-, 10-, and 20-year milestones, as identified by the City.

In an effort to engage the community in the important decisions coming before the City Council, R3 also designed a robust Community Engagement Process to allow residents and businesses to learn about the Zero Waste draft policy and draft rate structure, ask questions, and provide input before they went on to the City Council. This included designing an outreach strategy, providing content to be presented in the City’s specific marketing format, facilitating two public workshops, and presenting at community engagement meetings.

The City successfully adopted R3’s Plan and approved solid waste rate funding of $300,000 annually for Plan implementation services, which R3 is currently providing.

Rate Restructure Analysis & Revision

R3 was tasked by the City to develop a revised rate structure to calculate rates based on cost-of-service information provided by the City’s franchised hauler (Recology). R3 facilitated a transparent rate setting process, producing rates which aligned to cost-of-service and supported the City’s Zero Waste goals by preserving incentives to divert solid waste from landfill, including financial incentives for waste reduction.

The rate structure developed by R3 achieved several objectives, including:

  • Development of an incremental methodology to move rates towards a cost-of-service rate model that aligned rates more closely with the fixed and variable costs of providing solid waste collection, transfer, processing, diversion and disposal services;
  • Preservation of incentives to divert solid waste from landfill, including financial incentives for waste reduction;
  • Avoidance of higher-than-necessary rate impacts to small-quantity waste generators, resulting from aligning rates with the cost-of-service by keeping certain rates flat, rather than reducing them; and
  • Ease of future implementation during rate-setting processes, including the ability to conduct annual indexed adjustments (not subject to Prop 218) as well as the potential for City administration of the rate setting process (or, at least, minimum consultant involvement).

One innovative aspect of the methodology is the calculation of rates based on a set annual contractor compensation amount – which is adjusted annually based on indexes and other straightforward factors – and current subscription levels for solid waste container sizes and frequency. This approach has the effect of adjusting for customer account “migration” in collection container subscription levels (reduced volume and/or frequency) on an annual basis, and also allows for rate adjustments that are specific to each container size, and not a universal percentage increase to all container sizes. This is important because over time, universal application of increases has the effect of widening the gap between the rates for larger vs. smaller subscription levels, which creates a positive feedback loop of further migration yielding greater rate increases, further widening of the rate gap, and so on.

Another key aspect of this methodology is that it provides a means of calculating rates for services related to each of the primary solid waste streams (generally including recycling, organics, and garbage/trash). Calculating rates for each of these three service areas is important, as it demonstrates to policy makers and ratepayers that there are costs for providing diversion services (recycling and organics) and that those costs are generally comparable to landfill services (garbage/trash). Even if adopted rates are still set in keeping with current convention (i.e. based on landfill container size), setting rates based on the costs of providing diversion services establishes a logical and defensible approach to rate setting, and also provides the basis for setting rates for recycling and organics service in the future.

On-Call Solid Waste Support

R3 is currently providing on-site staff support.

Tasks include the following:

  • Updating the City’s Solid Waste and C&D ordinances to require recycling and organics collection to increase diversion and meet the requirements of AB 341, AB 1826, and SB 1383;
  • Developing a Reusable Foodware ordinance;
  • Managing the City’s contract with Recology;
  • Helping the City develop, implement, and enforce a program for their zero waste building and occupancy requirements;
  • Providing on-site work one day per week;
  • Conducting a bimonthly call with City Staff and R3 Staff, for the term of this agreement;
  • Active tracking of permit applicants in the process;
  • Active management of auditors and audit requirements;
  • Reviewing and evaluating policy options for updating the City’s construction and demolition ordinance culminating in a final policy memorandum;
  • Providing support for 2020 rate setting, based on the rate structure already developed by R3 for the City; and
  • Other as-needed assistance.