New Hanover County, NC, hired Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (GBB) to help prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the management and long-term operations of the County’s solid waste disposal facilities, which include a secure landfill with more than 40 years of remaining life, a 20+ year old waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, and seven recycling drop-off sites receiving over 200,000 tons per year. The RFP requested a single-service provider to provide all of the services currently being undertaken by the County under a single contract going forward. During the course of the procurement, GBB’s Project Manager made three presentations to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners (County Board), advancing the RFP process from eight vendor proposals, to interviews of five firms and performing a technical and economic review of each, to short-listing two firms, to the final recommendation of going forward with high-tech start-up R3 Environmental LLC (R3). In September 2010, the County Board signed a landmark contract with R3 for the management of the County’s waste system that was intended to position the County as a world leader in innovative disposal, according to County officials. Under the agreement, R3 was to implement a modern Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) processing facility pulling out recyclables and making a low-ash, high-BTU Refused-Derived Fuel (RDF) biomass product, refurbishing the current mass-burn WTE facility into an RDF biomass-fired system, and implementing a new construction waste and demolition debris recycling (C&D) processing system. The new solid waste sorting facility, with advanced machinery, dubbed a “Smart MRF,” was expected to be in operation in two years, extracting recyclables and converting the organic waste stream into fuel. R3 guaranteed to divert over 80% of the incoming solid waste from the landfill. This paper provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at the procurement process used to select this “innovative technology proposal” from R3 as it pertained to recycling potential, carbon credits and renewable energy credits, and significant long-term cost benefits to the County. It will also provide a review of the vendor evaluation process that led to this landmark contract, from the RFP preparation, proposals evaluation, technical/economic reviews, short-listing, recommendations, and technical contract negotiation.

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