Controversy brews over who handles electronic waste in Vt. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Controversy brews over who handles electronic waste in Vt.

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -

Robin Ingenthron is the owner of Good Point Recycling and has held a contract with the state to run Vermont's E-cycles program for the last three years. They take in unwanted computers and other e-waste, recycling it so chemicals inside don't pollute the environment. But after winning the bid for a fourth year in 2013, confusion over contract negotiations prompted the state to go with waste hauler Casella instead. Even though Casella is getting paid 8 cents more per pound, it began providing services last fall. Now, Good Point says it has been forced to scale back. It lost half its business after losing the contract.

"It looks like we're going to have to get down to a dozen staff and that's where 50,000-square-feet might be unnecessary," Ingenthron said.

The facility is now on the market for $1.6 million. It is no longer collecting recyclable electronics, but is now looking for new ways to stay afloat by negotiating contracts outside the state and selling the electronics collected when contract negotiations were in limbo.

Ingenthron says bidding between Casella and Good Point was mishandled by state employees and brought a lawsuit against the state, claiming improper procurement practices. But David Mears, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, says while they were satisfied with the services Good Point provided in the past, the decision to go with Casella was fair.

"The electronic waste piece is something that that company will have to compete for annually, just like any company would. And I expect it will continue to have Vermont, and regional and maybe even national businesses compete for this contract, which has been a very successful one," Mears said.

Casella also responded to the allegations.

"The state of Vermont came to us as the second-place bidder and said we're in a bind here, can you help us out? Are you still interested in providing this service? And of course we would be interested in that; that's the business we're in," said Joe Fusco, the vice president of Casella.

But as Casella takes over the state's e-cycles program, plans to use the New Hampshire company North Coast for transport mean jobs will leave Vermont.

"It's always a concern when we lose Vermont jobs, particularly jobs like these, which are involved in promoting environmentally beneficial activities. But at the end of the day, we have a responsibility in our department to follow the state contracting process, and that's what we've done," Mears said.

Good Point says they still have hope the state will reconsider their decision to sign an annual contract with Casella, but for now, state officials are standing by their decision.

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