LAWRENCEVILLE - As some of the largest service providers for residential trash and recycling pick-up in Gwinnett, Robertson Sanitation and Allied Waste Services have been relatively quiet throughout the county's garbage ordeal.
Neither of the companies originally filed suit against the county, although they did eventually join Southern Sanitation and Sanitation Solutions' lawsuit. And neither of them were awarded the original two county contracts to service all of Gwinnett.
But the companies, which merged in early December and are now called Republic Services, say they have developed some free-market oriented solutions to help the county deal with coming up with a new solid waste plan. And they rolled out some of those ideas Thursday while in court fighting for a fair and level playing field for all of the county's nine residential haulers.
"We understand that the current free-enterprise system has issues, but we don't believe it's broken," said Jack Perko, the area president for Robertson and Allied. "When the judge ruled that the county's plan was illegal, we decided that it was time to stop talking to the commissioners about open competition and start showing them how it could resolve many of the problems they face."
One of those programs is specifically targeted at reducing illegal trash dumping. Perko said that the county's estimates of 20,000 households not having garbage service just doesn't hold water.
"Twenty thousand homes without trash service would amount approximately to 450 tons of trash piled up across Gwinnett each week," Perko said. "We drive the streets every day and we don't see that."
To help alleviate illegal dumping, the company would like to implement a neighborhood cleanup program that could begin as soon as logistics are worked out and the necessary equipment purchased. Perko said a program like this would help clean up dumping sites and discourage additional illegal dumping.
And when it comes to recycling, Perko said anybody who goes with them could already recycle 35 items today like the new plan would have allowed for. He also said the company has an innovative rewards program that it would like to introduce to Gwinnett, as soon as the legal matters related to trash in the county are resolved.
"This recycling program - RecycleBank - is a rewards program that we negotiated exclusive rights to back in the spring," Perko said. "It has been very successful in every community that uses it," he said. "And just as important, there is opportunity for local businesses to get involved and benefit from it."
With Commissioner Mike Beaudreau announcing on Friday the first meeting of his "blue ribbon" committee on sanitation, open to the public and set to take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Shorty Howell Park, there will now be some actual solutions to talk about when the 15 Gwinnettians get together.
"Gwinnett is already one of the best places to live in Georgia," Perko said. "We encourage our competitors to follow our lead and help us make it one of the greenest as well."