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Waste reduction bid process unfair?


A would-be bidder for Hawaii County’s waste reduction facility claims the county’s bid solicitation was designed to favor large-scale waste-to-energy incinerators.

Richard Anthony, a San Diego-based consultant who said he has worked on zero-waste and resource recovery projects for several California, Texas and Colorado municipalities as well as on Hawaii County’s 2009 zero-waste plan, is asking the county to rescind its current request for proposals and start over.

Anthony said the tight deadline to submit proposals favored companies that had advance notice of the process.

He said other requirements prevented companies such as his own Richard Anthony Associates from pursuing recycling alternatives by building a partnership with local companies. In addition, the requirement for a single proposer with three years experience in handling 95,000 tons of municipal solid waste put methods that require garbage sorting out of the running, he said.

“They weren’t asking for a solution; they’re asking for a garbage burner,” Anthony said Wednesday. “If the mayor has his way, Hawaii Island is going to be stuck with the burden of generating 95,000 tons of waste for the next 30 years when it should be moving in the opposite direction.”

Environmental Manage-ment Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd disputed Anthony’s charges. She said the RFP was written broadly enough for any company with a successful track record to propose a solution to the county’s garbage problem.

“I don’t think we set the bar that high. We didn’t limit it,” Leithead Todd said. “All we’re asking is that what you have works. They were free to propose something.”

Anthony said he submitted a letter of intent as his company’s response to the RFP, although he couldn’t fulfill all the requirements in his response.

He said he doesn’t intend to formally protest the bid or take legal action; he just wants the public to know the direction the county is headed. His work on the zero-waste plan, which was endorsed by the County Council, sent him all around the island, and he said most people want to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste over building a facility that will need a steady stream of garbage.

Eight companies had submitted responses by the April 15 deadline, according to county officials. In comparison, Maui County received 20 proposals to its recent RFP for a similar project. Maui, though, has much more garbage to process, as Hawaii County is looking for a facility to replace the Hilo landfill while keeping the West Hawaii landfill open.

A committee will winnow through the responses and select the top three companies to submit more detailed responses to the second phase RFP. The names of the three finalists will be made public.

Last month, county officials shuttled a dozen potential bidders around the Hilo landfill to show them where a facility could be located.

The would-be bidders represented a range of companies offering everything from waste-to-energy incineration to recycling, composting and gasification. Among those in the group were Waste Management’s Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., winner of a previous Hawaii County RFP aborted in 2008; Covanta Energy, builder of Oahu’s HPower incinerator; Bodell Construction, builder of an expansion to the Puna geothermal power plant and Anaergia Inc., the winning bidder for Maui County’s proposed anaerobic garbage digester facility. Anthony did not attend the bidders’ meeting or landfill tour.

Kenoi is set on having a facility on the ground before he leaves office in 2016. The ambitious timeline aims to have the three top vendors identified by next month, with a contractor selected in January.