Assessing The Sustainability Of Your Community's Residential Solid Waste Management

The agencies involved in solid waste management may have different names in each community. Generally they will fall under the following categories: municipal public works or solid waste agency, recycling coordinator, county or regional solid waste agency, private solid waste hauler or recycling hauler, local transfer station, and local landfill operator.

  • List the programs your community has in place to help citizens reduce the amount of solid waste they generate, e.g., recycling, composting or source reduction programs.
  • Describe why each program came into existence and its current goals.
  • What have been the principal strategies used to achieve citizen participation? Which have been successful and why? Which have been unsuccessful and why?
  • How is success measured? Include the numerical targets of the program. If there are no targets, how might targets be established?
  • What percentage of citizens participate in each program?
  • What percentage of solid waste does each program divert from the waste stream?
  • What have been the participation and solid waste diversion rates for each program over the last three years? Have participation and diversion rates increased, leveled off, or decreased? Please explain what is causing this trend.
  • What neighborhoods have the most successful participation and solid waste reduction rates? Why is this? Please describe what has been learned.
  • What neighborhoods have the least successful participation and solid waste reduction rates? Why is this? Please describe what has been learned.
  • What incentives are there in the municipality, if any, for solid waste reduction, e.g., regulatory compliance with state or regional targets, landfill closing, avoided costs of expanding or building new infrastructure, increase in tipping fee expenses, city ordinance committing to natural resource conservation as a principal of community sustainability, etc.?
  • Which service providers benefit from residential solid waste reduction, e.g., solid waste haulers in reduced tipping fee expenses, collection and transport costs, recycling service providers in increased feedstock to sell, and landfill operators in extended life of the landfill, etc.?
  • If fiscal benefits are derived from residential waste reduction, how could these be calculated and projected over time, e.g., pounds of solid waste diverted equals a certain amount of financial savings for hauler, landfill operator, etc.?
  • Are there any policies to reinvest these financial savings into creating greater solid waste reduction? Please describe. If not, how might a policy be established?
  • What disincentives are there in the municipality, if any, for residential solid waste reduction, e.g., contractual commitment to supply a fixed amount of residential solid waste to be placed in a landfill, financial obligations to pay off landfill site development based on tipping fees, etc.?
  • Which service providers do not benefit from solid waste reduction, e.g., solid waste haulers who increase revenues from pounds of solid waste collected, landfill operators who increase revenues from tipping fees, etc.?
  • Are there any municipal policies for assuring that incentives to solid waste diversion are enhanced, and disincentives eliminated? If not, how might these be pursued?
  • If the municipality has created disincentives to solid waste diversion, what can be done to remedy this, e.g., renegotiate contracts with service providers based on providing incentives for solid waste reduction, redesign policies, etc.?

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