University of Wisconsin–Madison

Cleaning Up Waste and Recycling Management and Securing the Benefits: A Blueprint for Cities

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2015
Level City or Town
State(s) California
Policy Areas Civil Rights, Economic Justice, Energy, Environment & Natural Resources, Finance & Procurement
Managing a city’s waste and recycling sector is a core governmental responsibility and, when done well, helps cities realize benefits and meet constituents’ expectations. Residents expect government to prevent pollution and protect neighborhoods, create good quality jobs, and operate transparently and efficiently. Cities can do just that by cleaning up waste and recycling management, and establishing practices in full compliance with California laws that call for an increase in recycling. City staff often lack the time and resources needed to comprehensively research and resolve the complex issues of waste and recycling management. Management practices differ, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Some cities directly manage waste collection; others award exclusive service contracts to franchised waste haulers. Others enter into non-exclusive franchise agreements with multiple companies, while a few require only a hauler permit. Bringing together years of research and analysis in waste and recycling management, this report provides solutions – and a blueprint for cities to follow. The report concludes that strong municipal and exclusive franchise systems are the best ways for cities to manage waste and recycling, and defines the best practices that cities should adopt to fine-tune these systems and secure benefits. Cities with open permit or non-exclusive franchise systems should begin the transition to an exclusive franchise waste system for maximum benefits.

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