A new study by the National Solid Waste Management Association (NSWMA) has concluded that privatised waste services generate significant cost savings and lower financial risks for budget-stretched municipalities than publically run services.
According to the study privatising waste offers communities encourages greater innovations and efficiencies that save money and reduce environmental impacts.
"During a time when municipalities are facing declining revenues and severe budget shortfalls, waste collection, recycling and disposal are among the services most ideal for privatization," said NSWMA President and CEO Bruce J. Parker. NSWMA represents the private sector waste industry in the U.S.
Among the study's findings:
Privatised waste collection lowers costs. According to the Reason Foundation, competitive delivery of solid waste services typically generates cost savings on the order of 20% to 40%. This is because private companies have the economies of scale to spread investment, environmental protection and procurement costs across multiple contracts and facilities. In addition, they are not hindered by governmental bureaucracies. Privatised waste collection protects recycling rates. The cities with the highest recycling rates in the U.S. - including San Francisco and Seattle - have fully privatised recycling. According to the report, that's largely because private sector recyclers have more experience and financial ability to assume and manage risks in volatile commodities market. The private sector also is responsible for innovations like single-stream recycling, which have helped to double Americans' recycling rates in the last 20 years. Privatised waste collection is safer. According to the U.S. Department of Labour, solid waste management services operated by local governments have an injury rate more than four times greater than private counterparts. Private sector employees also missed fewer work days than public sector employees due to injury. In addition to these advantages, the study describes how cities can privatise their garbage collection, disposal and recycling programs while protecting the environment and often while maintaining employment.
The report adds that the private solid waste sector is one of the fastest-growing adopters of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicle technologies to reduce emissions, and is more likely to use further energy-saving technologies, such as on-board route management software.
"Americans still generate a lot of trash - more than 4 pounds per person per day. Major indicators show the private sector is better equipped to deal with this trash safely, responsibly and sustainably, while saving consumers and local governments a lot of money." Parker added.