WALNUT CREEK -- Some of the biggest names in trash are vying for a piece of a lucrative $1 billion contract to haul and recycle garbage in five Contra Costa County cities.
Arizona-based Republic Services, Recology, of San Francisco, and Garaventa Enterprises, of Concord, are among the companies bidding on all or a piece of a coveted multiyear franchise with Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority.
The authority's choice will set the bar for trash rates over the next two decades and spell out how communities will meet a state mandate to recycle by 2020 at least 75 percent of garbage that would have otherwise gone into landfills. The authority diverted 66 percent of its waste last year.
The agency oversees trash collection and recycling for 65,000 households in Danville, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Walnut Creek and unincorporated areas.
Its board is expected in March to cement a deal worth an estimated $500 million in the first decade, with a likely 10-year extension.
"This is a very, very significant step," said authority chairwoman and Contra Costa Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville. "All the entities that submitted bids are credible and it will come down to how each proposes to meet the agency's objectives and at what cost."
Allied Waste -- bought out by Republic Services in 2008 -- has held the garbage collection and processing franchise since 1990. Valley Waste Management, a subsidiary of Texas-based Waste Management, has the recycling, green and food waste processing contract. Both deals expire March 1, 2015.
To meet the 75 percent waste diversion threshold, the authority must find new and cost-effective ways to recycle and reuse, authority Executive Director Paul Morsen said.
Residents served by the contracts sent to landfills 107,460 tons of trash or 3.4 pounds per person per day in 2012. Most of the refuse ends up in the Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg.
For the first time, the authority solicited separate bids for both individual and combined components -- collection, transfer station operations where refuse is sorted and compacted, disposal in landfills, recyclables processing, and green and commercial food waste disposal.
The board will mix and match to get the "best value for rate payers," Morsen said.
"I remember when garbage was one can," Morsen said. "It has gotten a lot more complicated."
Nine proposals of varying scopes were submitted by the Oct. 7 deadline. Some firms bid on more than one area.
Cost details have not yet been released but bidders are scheduled to make 10-minute public presentations at the board's Oct. 31 meeting.
The current operator, Republic Services, submitted bids for trash collection, transfer station operations, disposal and green and food waste processing but not recyclables. In the Bay Area, Republic also handles trash for Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Antioch and San Jose.
The other comprehensive set of bids came from a new partnership between Recology of San Francisco and Concord-based Garaventa Enterprises. Its proposals encompass all the requested services including recyclables.
Garaventa Enterprises owns Mt. Diablo Recycling and provides garbage and recycling services for Concord, Pittsburg, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Oakley and Rio Vista. It also operates a large transfer station, where trash is sorted and compacted.
Recology runs similar operations throughout the Bay Area and Northern California, as well as Portland, Seattle, and other cities in Oregon and Washington. Recology also owns the Hay Road landfill in Solano County.
Other bidders include Texas-based Waste Management for transfer and disposal. Potrero Hills landfill near Suisun City is vying for landfill services, and Pacific Rim Recycling of Benicia and Los Angeles-based California Waste Services are also competing for the recycling contract.
With so much money at stake, the authority's staff and 12-member board -- consisting of two elected county supervisors and two council members from each of the five member cities -- took steps last fall to reduce appearances of political favoritism.
The agency staff reports in writing all contacts with bidders while board members publicly disclose at every meeting even casual encounters with the companies' owners or representatives.
The county supervisors and city council members also voluntarily banned last September the receipt of campaign contributions from garbage interests during the franchise review and selection process.
Staff writer Elisabeth Nardi contributed to this story