BY BUDDY NEVINS
Pity poor the waste disposal giant Wheelabrator Technologies.
Forced to compete in Broward for the first time, some of the company’s customers have fled as newer firms fought for Broward’s waste disposal business.
Wheelabrator, a subsidary of the international waste firm Waste Management, has lost about a third of its business from cities in Broward.
Competition has also proved a bonus for customers. It forced Wheelabrator to cut its disposal rate in half!
The big winner is Sun/Bergeron, a joint venture of Broward entrepreneur Ron Bergeron and Palm Beach Count-based Sun Recycling.
Sun/Beregeron competes in only one aspect of the waste business – disposal.
Here is how the garbage that leaves your house is handled:
The business is divided between haulers and disposal firms under separate city contracts.
Haulers pick up waste at homes and businesses and carry it to disposal firms.
The hauling and disposal are combined as one charge to homeowners and businesses.
The dominant disposal firm in Broward has been Wheelabrator, which burned or buried the waste for 26 of Broward’s 31 cities since the 1980s. Its contracts end in July.
Two Wheelabrator plants now burn some waste and turn it to energy at two Broward plants. The rest is buried in its landfill, with the bulk going to the huge mountain of waste along Florida’s Turnpike in North Broward.
Sun/Bergeron has a different approach. The firm pledges to recycle at least 75 percent of the waste although some in the industry are skeptical of the firm’s ability to reach that goal.
The latest disposal contract was handled out this week – Deerfield Beach.
It went to Sun/Bergeron after frenzied lobbying which included Wheelabrator hiring former County Commissioners Scott Cowan and Sylvia Poitier, who was also a Deerfield Beach commissioner.
Deerfield Beach is the latest former customers of Wheelabrator taken over by Sun/Bergeron. The others are Miramar, Davie, Oakland Park, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Hillsboro Beach.
Sun/Bergeron now has contracts for roughly 250,000 annual tons of municipal solid waste from one-time Wheelabrator clients. Wheelabrator handled approximately 930,000 tons of waste in 2011.
Sun/Bergeron also won smaller parts of the former Wheelabrator monopoly in other cities, such as the disposal of yard waste in Fort Lauderdale.
Another firm took away Wheelabrator’s solid waste disposal contract in Hollywood worth roughly 80,000 solid waste tons annually.
Personal Disclosure: Sun/Bergeron is a client of Richardson Partners, a public affairs and government relations firm. My oldest son, Aaron Nevins, is a partner in that firm.