- According to a new report from Waste Alert — which analyzed 1,699 agendas and minutes from 807 meetings — solid waste or recycling issues came up in 26% of local government meetings during the first quarter of 2017. This information came from municipal, borough and county meetings across 16 largely Western states.
- The report shows that the most common instances were about financial issues, followed by future planning for facilities and infrastructure and then direct mentions of companies — often relating to franchises. Changes to contracts or regulations were also common themes.
- Within these regulatory discussions, Waste Alert also noted that the management of marijuana waste from cultivation centers and dispensaries is becoming a more common topic. This came up at multiple meetings in Alaska and is expected to be a future issue in the growing number of states that have legalized the drug for recreational use.
Waste Alert released a similar report earlier this year showing that solid waste or recycling issues came up in 19% of the meetings they reviewed for all of 2016. They cite the new figures as a sign that waste is being discussed more often so far this year, though note that it's common for local governments to take up these issues at the beginning of a calendar year.
The report also says even though topics such as "zero waste," organics recycling and plastic bag regulation often get more media attention much of the work done so far this year has been about the "nuts and bolts" aspects of the industry. Waste Alert's sample included governments with populations ranging from 1,000 to 1 million and there has been plenty of recent contracting activity across that spectrum.
In some cases those contracts can become flash points for public opposition, though it's not uncommon to see deals for millions or billions of dollars negotiated with minimal fanfare. For analysts, advocates and professionals alike this could be a sign that watching the more technical, incremental developments is just as important when it comes to understanding where the industry is heading.