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Privatized Trash Collection Mostly a Win for Cities

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Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
12/28/2013 12:49:04 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Re: One man's garbage is another man's....opportunity?
Thank You Flanagan55 it is always nice to hear a solution which requires a Service Level Agreement. If the Trash Collector does not meet the SLA, it may be difficult for the City to re-enter the Trash Collection Business as equipment is costly. Do you think a City can keep the Equipment and lease to the Contractor....then if it does notwork they can easily reenter the Trash Collection business.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
12/19/2013 7:01:55 AM
User Rank Blogger
private turned public service?
"In Bogota, Colombia, the mayor is battling for his political life over his decision to fire city workers and privatize waste collection."

Hi Mary, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the left-leaning mayor get into hot water for doing the reverse -- firing the private contractors and replacing them with a city-run service?

Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
12/17/2013 4:31:46 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: One man's garbage is another man's....opportunity?
An interesting and succinct overview of the moral/financial/green aspects of garbage collection and disposal, Flanagan55. It nags at me and I know many tens of thousands of others - what will we do with all the trash?! I felt like a jerk when I recently realized a type of plastic I'd been throwing away - number 5 - actually can be recycled here in DC, and I implore all citizens to check their city's DPW guidelines to make sure you are recycling all the stuff you can.

Flanagan55
Flanagan55  
12/17/2013 2:08:38 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Union busting or fiscally responsible?
Government services, at their core, are to provide for the public whether it is fire, police, schools, sanitation, transportation etc. These are services that are supposed to simply provide, in a completely equitable manner, needs for the public. When you privatize something like trash, notoriously connected with the mob, you run into the issue that the private sector is always looking for a profit. Municipalities walk a dangerous line when they privatize public services. Like mentioned earlier...what's next? A private sector company running a transit line for example may run fewer trains, at a higher cost, to yield a higher profit. This will provide inadequate service, and take away from its purpose. The same can be said for something like trash...will pick-up be as regular and fair? Will the rates stay equitable? 

I think these realities require that a city privatizing services to only do so with strict mandates and regulation. If you want to privatize trash haulding, fine. However, do so in a manner that regulates fair pricing and include something such as a required amount of service to each land parcel per month (like once a week) that they must adhere to. I don't believe government can simply wipe their hands of services and give them to the private sector..the underlying purpose of government is to oversee and regulate basic human needs. Unfortunately, the private sector operating indepently, will not care about the person but how much money can be had.

richheap
richheap  
12/17/2013 1:21:47 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Union busting or fiscally responsible?
@Terry: So do you think this is a good move? I don't know quite where I stand.

I wonder whether cities that outsource these services will actually get value for money. After all, there's nothing to stop the private company who wins the contract from driving down costs, cutting the quality of service, and doing anything they can to increase their profit margin. Will cities find themselves in ten years faced with a poor quality service and citizens complaining that their tax money is being used to line the pockets of private fat cats? And then the city will think the best idea is to re-nationalise. And so on...

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
12/17/2013 12:52:52 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: One man's garbage is another man's....opportunity?
Thanks for weighing in here, Flanagan55. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how far the trend toward privatization goes in cities -- and what directions it will take. As I've said before, though, I think what works in one area won't in others. We'll see.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
12/17/2013 12:39:29 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Garbage In, Garbage Out
Couldn't agree with you more, Daved, about the need to reduce those big-bucks city officials. Just today, I read something about how a Brooklyn DA plans to pay one of his people nearly $300K in unused vacation pay.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
12/17/2013 12:26:08 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Union busting or fiscally responsible?
It does seem, Kq4ym, that cities talk about efficiencies when they chiefly mean reduced payments for worker pensions and healthcare. Quality isn't guaranteed, and it does seem that the frequency of trash pickup nearly always goes down. We'll see indeed what the overall economic impact will be -- not just to individual cities, but to the country.

Flanagan55
Flanagan55  
12/17/2013 11:07:17 AM
User Rank Village Voice
One man's garbage is another man's....opportunity?
Trash is a fascinating phenomena. We in America produce so much of it and a tremendous portion of that is not bio-degradable, with half-lifes of hundreds or thousands of years. We still don't really know how to properly dispose of trash in any renewable AND environmentally safe way. 

I know here in NY, the Howland Hook port in Staten Island as well as ports in New Jersey will be receiving containerized trash from NYC, to be taken off barge by specialty-made cranes and transferred to a CSX freight train, bound for points out west. The operation has created hundreds of stable jobs and in a lot of ways is saving the community port. On a small-scale, it has huge benfit. On a large scale, shipping garbage hundreds of miles is energy abusive and not great for the environment. The relationship is sometimes a clash of morality and finance, one that comes up in a lot of urban aspects.

It seems that government more and more continues to contract out services it once performed, utilizing the private sector power to complete normal government duties. Soon you might see private bridges and infrastructure more and more as strapped cities try to find ways to pay for increasingly expensive improvements.

Davedgreat2000
Davedgreat2000  
12/17/2013 9:59:40 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Isnt that was the Mob used to do...collect Garbage, or am i thinking of a T.V. show?

Is privatizing the way to go? Will it actually save the Tax Payers more money, or is the bill (like Cable T.V.) going to go up from month to month?

if you want to save money in the City, how about doing away with $500,000/year Pension for a retired Police Chief...I'm just saying

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