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At the Aug. 11 City Council meeting, aldermen approved a Citywide solid-waste disposal franchise for businesses and multi-unit residential buildings not serviced by the City and designated Groot as the sole franchisee for seven years, beginning next March. Groot presently holds the residential recycling contract with the City.

The ordinance contains an opt-out provision for organizations with special waste-hauling considerations, such as the two hospitals, and for Northwestern University because of its own waste-hauling contract. It also attempts to protect small businesses whose rates might increase by holding those rates for three years and phasing in the increase over the two following years. In addition, said Suzette Eggleston, superintendent of the City’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, Groot will supply each of its new customers with a 95-gallon recycling container.

Ms. Eggleston said the franchise is modeled after Skokie’s franchise, under which 88 percent of businesses saved money – an aggregate of more than $1 million in the sixth year of operation. She added the seven-year agreement will allow Groot to recoup some of its capital investment in the additional Dumpsters it will purchase.

Alderman and City staff had debated the franchise for several months, fine-tuning the agreement to address several business concerns. At an earlier meeting, Brook Beale, executive director of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC), urged the aldermen to approve the franchise, saying it would benefit the community and warning that upcoming state legislation would make it more difficult for communities to have a waste-hauling franchise.

While the franchise received unanimous approval, Alderman Anjana Hansen, 9th Ward, voted against awarding the contract to Groot. She said over the past several years – even before she was elected alderman – she had received no response to her requests that Groot drivers refrain from idling their trucks on her block. “My feeling is that if I (as an elected official) can’t get Groot to do what I asked them to do, how will they do what the City asks them to do? … Veolia has been saying, ‘Give us a chance,’” she said.

Other aldermen said they felt Groot’s crews performed well in their wards. The vote to award the franchise to Groot was 7-1, Second Ward Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste being absent from the meeting.