Springfield, MO pursues landfill expansion amid ongoing franchise discussion

Dive Brief:

  • The City Council of Springfield, MO is considering a $1.89 million cell expansion at a municipally-owned landfill. The seven-acre expansion already received state permit approval in 2000, as reported by the News-Leader.
  • The new cell would receive about 650 tons per day and give the site an additional three to four years of capacity. Factoring in this potential expansion and other improvements, the landfill has an estimated 13 years of capacity remaining. Though the city is also applying for a new state permit that would grant them rights for further expansion to extend the site's lifespan another 50 years.
  • All of these construction costs are expected to be paid by tipping fees, though the pending expiration of disposal contracts with Republic Services and WCA Waste Corporation in 2019 could affect those calculations.

Dive Insight:

The process of expanding this landfill, which has been permitted to operate for more than 30 years, appears to be moving forward as planned. Though the question of what will happen with tip fee revenue in 2019 and beyond is still very much up in the air as the city considers a franchise system. Those tip fees also comprise 85% of the revenue for city solid waste programs, including recycling, yard waste and household hazardous waste.

Springfield released a study in April showing potential cost savings under an "optimized" collection system as compared to the current open market system. Potential options presented at the time included maintaining the current system, moving to an exclusive franchise system with set zones or establishing a non-exclusive system. If any form of franchise system is established, and large haulers such as Republic or WCA were awarded contracts, some see that as a way to ensure stability for landfill tip fee revenues. Though multiple independent haulers have since raised objections to the plan and discussions are expected to continue through the summer.

While the third-largest city in Missouri may be much smaller than other major urban markets where franchising is in the works, the Springfield discussion still bears many similarities. Small, independent companies are concerned about losing market share and are looking for ways to stay competitive. Though larger national companies may be better positioned from a capital standpoint to guarantee service in large zones for long-term contracts and their financial relationship to disposal or processing facilities is a key factor. 

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Filed Under: Landfill
Top image credit: Ropable