New proposal could make or break possibility of zoned collections in St. Paul, MN

Dive Brief:

  • A group of 15 haulers are negotiating with St. Paul, MN to create an organized waste collection system, and those haulers will have until March 21 to draft a proposal that city officials agree with, as reported by Star Tribune. 
  • The potential of a zoned collection system has been debated in the city since 2015, and negotiations have focused on proposed costs, labor issues, billing and contracting. Officials say they are getting close to an agreement and predict that a new system could be in place by mid-2018.
  • If the city cannot reach an agreement with the haulers and rejects the next proposal, the City Council will instead send out a request for proposals (RFP) for exclusive collections from one hauler or one group of haulers. The winner would begin collections in spring 2019.

Dive Insight:

Commercial waste franchising has been debated in top cities across the country — including Los Angeles and New York — proving that the concept is not easily agreed upon. Proponents of zoned collections believe that franchising can improve diversion rates and cut down on noise pollution, emissions from trucks and overall "inefficiencies" that cause traffic. Opponents believe zoned systems limit business opportunities for some haulers and may lead to higher costs for customers.

In the case of St. Paul, local business opportunities will likely plummet if a zoned collection proposal isn't passed. Local hauler Ken Berquist & Son told the Star Tribune that, by exclusively offering the city's collections to one hauler or one group of haulers, Berquist and other smaller companies "could be out of business." Yet residents like the option to choose their own collection companies, and if the city cannot come to terms with negotiated prices from the haulers, it may not have a better choice.

St. Paul residents have recently faced transitional challenges involving new recycling collections with Eureka Recycling, and this potential change in commercial hauling may create new confusion around waste collections. However a 2016 survey of St. Paul residents found that many people are looking to change the current system, and these residents just may get what they asked for.

Waste Dive plans to discuss the commercial waste franchising debate further in its next episode of Talkin' Trash with Waste Dive.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer