- The Long Beach, CA City Council voted unanimously on May 23 to approve a resolution that will study the potential effects of changing commercial collection to an exclusive franchise system. Long Beach's Department of Public Works and city manager will work together on the study.
- The council also voted to initiate a five-year notice, as required by California Public Resources Code 49520, to any company in service for more than three years that a potential exclusive system could be coming in the future.
- In his final remarks before the vote, Mayor Robert Garcia said he agreed the current open market system was inefficient but also noted that a collaborative process would be important to ensure that small or mid-size haulers weren't pushed out of the market. "Let's also all be honest that some of the systems that were created early on in some of the cities that were mentioned actually do have some flaws," said Garcia, referring to examples in Los Angeles and elsewhere. "I think we can improve on what other cities have done and ensure that we end up with what can be the model system in the country."
These results were celebrated by the Don’t Waste Long Beach Coalition, which includes numerous environmental and labor organizations. The group has been advocating for the potential efficiency and job creation benefits of a franchise system, using Los Angeles as a model. As neighboring Los Angeles nears the July implementation date for its own exclusive franchise system the results and growing pains could become key talking points for both supporters and detractors in the months ahead.
The residential collection program run by Long Beach's Environmental Services Bureau has received national recognition and would not be part of this potential new system. Currently, commercial businesses and buildings with 10 or more units are served by 15 permitted private haulers. Though according to a letter filed by council members, that system is "fragmented and potentially unsafe," and in need of reform.
Some level of pushback can be expected from industry representatives based on the experiences of other cities that have gone down this path before. Both Waste Management and Republic Services are active in the market, though both companies have benefited from exclusive contracts in multiple states so it's possible that resistance may be more prevalent among smaller independent companies. The city's decision to file this five-year notice does not require them to take any specific action in the future and no further moves will be made until the study is complete.