Waste Management Hires Away Director Of County Recycling

Posted: November 01, 1990

Bucks County's trash-recycling director has accepted a job with Waste Management Inc., the nation's largest solid-waste disposal company, which owns Bucks' two landfills and a growing number of haulers.

Charles Raudenbush Jr. confirmed this week that he is resigning from his

$38,700 county job to work in Waste Management's Northeast regional office in Bensalem.

"The offer I got (from Waste Management) just couldn't be ignored," Raudenbush said. "And the potential for growth has unlimited vistas in an organization like that."

Raudenbush, who helped start the recycling center in early 1989, said he would work in Waste Management's recycling division. County Commissioner Andrew L. Warren said Raudenbush's replacement would be named in early 1991.

Raudenbush, Bucks' first recycling director, is a Lower Southampton Township supervisor and a member of the Southwest Bucks County Solid Waste Committee (SWBSWC), a consortium of Northampton, Lower and Upper Southampton and Warminister that has a $25 million, five-year disposal contract with Waste Management.

The SWBSWC contract resulted in several small independent haulers losing thousands of customers. Some haulers that belong to the Pennsylvania Sanitary Disposal Association, a group that monitors the waste industry, became critical of Raudenbush in recent months after word circulated that he was weighing an offer from Waste Management. The company owns the Tullytown and GROWS landfills.

Raudenbush, 38, attempted to head off the criticism two weeks ago by announcing at an association meeting that he was considering the Waste Management job. In an interview last week, Raudenbush said there was nothing suspicious in Waste Management's offer.

"If there's such a thing as a quid pro quo, then this is one of the slowest quos ever," he said, adding that he abstained from the vote two years ago that awarded Waste Management the contract. "They (Waste Management officials) offered me (the position) because I am qualified to do a good job," he said.

Waste Management officials could not be reached for comment.

Because SWBSWC will negotiate with Waste Management in the future, Raudenbush said he would step down from the panel.

"I'm going to have to turn in my ticket," he said, adding that he wants to avoid the appearence of a conflict of interest. Last month, while Raudenbush was still Bucks' recycling coordinator, the county designated Waste Management as one of two companies that may contract with municipalities for leaf composting.

In addition to Raudenbush, Waste Management in recent years has hired others with government connections, including four sons and brothers of municipal officials of Falls Township and Tullytown, the sites of its Bucks County landfills.

County commissioner Lucille Trench was angered at Raudenbush's appointment two years ago, saying it was political.

"I was upset because he was a Republican and an activist," said Trench, a Democrat. "However, he went right to work. He actively sold the program to many municipalities, and he was just beginning to become an asset."

When asked whether she thought Raudenbush had a close relationship with Waste Management while he was a government employee, she said, "My comment is, the actions speak for themselves. But you have to remember, many people leave government for the private sector."

"Private industry has plucked (Raudenbush) away from county government"

because of his abilities, Warren said. The Bucks recycling program is recognized as one of the best in the state, with more than three-quarters of the county's 54 municipalities participating, he said. The county recycled more than 19,000 tons of glass, cans, newspaper and other items in the first eight months of 1990.

The program, however, faces a $350,000 deficit. Much of it was anticipated

because of new equipment and other start-up expenses, Raudenbush said. He said the debt was scheduled to be erased in about three years.

Raudenbush said the key to recycling success was expanding "reliable markets," such as canning companies and publishing houses.

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