New Bedford residents have every reason to worry about the future of their trash contract with ABC Disposal.

Seems the Chinese have decided they don't want to purchase as much of our trash as they once did, and that's causing big problems here at home. But, a contract is a contract, and ABC Disposal is halfway through a 10-year contract with New Bedford to collect and dispose of recyclables. Period. And, ABC is not alone.

For years, the Chinese have purchased recyclables for resale to secondary businesses that would reprocess it into other products. For environmental and other reasons, the recyclable market is drying up. That creates a serious problem for places like New Bedford, where recycling has become a big part of expanding the life of the landfill by reducing the amount of trash that is dumped there.

ABC says China's decision to accept fewer recyclables makes it more difficult and expensive to honor its local contract, and it will stop collecting recyclables on July 1, unless the city gives it more money. Not surprisingly, the Mitchell Administration wants to see ABC's books before agreeing to alter the contract, but ABC has refused so far.

Mitchell 5-16

Mayor Jon Mitchell tells me that failure to honor the contract would be a violation by ABC that would nullify the document. Mitchell says in order to assure a seamless transition (should that be necessary), discussions are currently underway with "more than one" vendor.

ABC negotiated and signed a contract with New Bedford to collect trash and dispose of recyclables. That contract has to be honored unless the company can renegotiate its deal with the city. The first step towards reopening the agreement is to show proof of the need.

The Mitchell Administration is putting the financial interests of the taxpayer first in insisting that ABC establish a need for a new deal. To simply write a blank check to a vendor without verifying the needs of that vendor would be irresponsible and reckless.

In the meantime, the Administration should appoint a study committee to prepare for our future trash disposal needs. The landfill will not last forever, and the bottom is falling out of the recycling market. We cannot kick this problem down the road.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420