State & Local Issues

The National Waste & Recycling Association’s (NWRA) state and local advocacy issues include “Slow Down to Get Around,” Flow Control, Just Compensation and Privatization.

Effective Responses to Emerging Waste Management Technology Proposals

NWRA announced the development of a briefing for elected officials on emerging waste management technology. This brief, entitled “Effective Responses to Emerging Waste Management Technology Proposals,” was developed to provide municipal leaders with the process and resources necessary to make informed decisions when considering unsolicited proposals, unfamiliar technologies or both.

The brief includes a checklist to assist decision-makers in their evaluation of opportunities that utilize emerging waste technologies or that use existing management technology in new applications as part of an environmental services program. This document will help elected officials identify and understand the associated risks and challenges of the new waste management options. The brief and the checklist are available for download.

Slow Down to Get Around

Careless driving by motorists puts waste and recycling collectors at risk every day. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has named the refuse and recycling collector as the fifth most dangerous occupation. Of all the fatalities of these hardworking men and women, two-thirds (67 percent) were the result of transportation incidents. Many of these incidents were caused by inattentive or distracted driving motorists who failed to field to reuse and recycling collection vehicles. Most of the time, the danger is no different than that experienced by police officers and wrecker drivers who are stopped at the side of the road.

The National Waste & Recycling Association and its partners, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Rumpke Waste & Recycling and McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing, have promoted careful driving around waste and recycling collection vehicles through the Slow Down to Get Around program.

NWRA and its allies have been working with state legislatures to pass laws to protect these workers.

NWRA’s Slow Down to Get Around is a national safety campaign that reminds motorists to drive more carefully when near waste and recycling collection vehicles. Currently, a total of 31 states around the country have enacted Slow Down to Get Around laws that affect waste and recycling collection vehicles.

For more information about Slow Down to Get Around legislation, please contact Abby Blocker at ablocker@wasterecycling.org.

Flow Control

The term “flow control” refers to governmental laws or policies that require or encourage waste materials to be disposed at designated disposal facilities (landfills, transfer stations or incinerators). Many local governments engage in flow control to ensure they collect the revenue associated with the disposal of solid waste. In 1994, the United States Supreme Court declared that flow control violated the U.S. Constitution, but in April 2007, the court narrowed that decision and stated that local governments are permitted to engage in flow control at government-owned and operated disposal facilities under specific circumstances.

Local waste generators and waste companies challenge flow control because it often increases costs without any corresponding benefits. The practice adversely affects solid waste haulers, which prefer to choose from competitive facilities based on cost and service, or which prefer to use their own disposal facilities, with certainty that all environmental protections are being met. Landfill owners, who would receive waste (and revenue) in the absence of flow control, also oppose the policy.

The National Waste & Recycling Association opposes flow control policies. The Association believes that government should not restrict the free movement of solid waste because such restrictions lead to higher costs for everyone. Flow control is anticompetitive. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s report to Congress on flow control and municipal solid waste, flow control does not provide additional human health or environmental benefits and is not essential for developing municipal solid waste management capacity or for achieving recycling goals.

Just Compensation and Hauler Displacement

When a city or county government reclassifies its boundaries, reconfiguring solid waste collection services for its newly acquired constituents, our members—private sector haulers—lose their customer base. This can also occur when a local government provides solid waste management as a government service, displacing private sector haulers. Currently, with these kinds of government actions, private sector companies are not compensated for lost business or investment in labor and equipment. To ensure that private companies are fairly compensated for lost business due to government intervention, the National Waste & Recycling Association and its members support “just compensation” or “hauler displacement legislation.”

Privatization

Through privatization of solid waste collection, processing and disposal, communities save money, maximize efficiency and gain other useful benefits.

We know that many local governments face extraordinary budget challenges as revenues shrink and expenses rise. A logical response to these budget shortfalls is to reduce the cost and size of government by concentrating on providing critical municipal services such as police and fire protection. To achieve this, many cities are increasingly privatizing other activities for which the private sector is best prepared to provide improved service at a lower cost, increased efficiency and other community benefits. Waste collection, recycling and disposal are among the most prominent candidates for privatization.

The National Waste & Recycling Association supports privatization, believing the private sector can provide solid waste services in the most efficient, low cost and environmentally prudent manner. We urge local governments that compete with the private sector in providing waste services to account for all of the costs of its service and allow for competition on a level playing field.

The City Council and Mayor of Toledo, Ohio, agreed to privatize Toledo’s operations in an effort to reduce waste and recycling collection costs for the city, bringing privately operated waste services to more than 180,000 households in northwestern Ohio. Toledo’s mayor said the switch to a private hauler would save $2.8 million in the city budget.

Despite myths suggesting that privatizing solid waste collection and management erodes the quality of these services, the cities with the highest recycling rates in America, Seattle and San Francisco, have fully privatized recycling services.