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The City’s contracts with Springfield’s trash haulers that own their own landfills are set to expire in 2019, which has led to the discussion about ways to improve how Springfield manages residential trash.
In 1991, Springfield voters approved the creation of the Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS) which funds the operation of the Springfield Sanitary Landfill, and a variety of programs and services that have the combined effect of managing and decreasing Springfield’s waste stream. Those programs include the three drop-off recycling centers, the Yardwaste Recycling Center, Household Chemical Collection Center and public education and outreach in the Springfield community. Stable funding is vital to ensure these services continue to be provided and that the landfill remains open.
The Springfield landfill must receive enough trash from Springfield customers to cover the operating expenses of the entire waste management system. The system is primarily funded by the disposal charge (or “tipping fee”) to dispose of trash at the City-owned landfill, in combination with the institution of trash flow control, which is essentially accomplished through “put or pay” agreements with the trash haulers that own private landfills outside the area. The Springfield landfill charges the lowest disposal or “tipping fee” in the state at $30 per ton.
City Council will consider a resolution at its Jan. 16 meeting that authorizes the renegotiation of the trash hauler “put or pay” agreements, directs staff to issue a request for information (RFI) from all locally licensed haulers and asks staff to launch a public education and outreach initiative.
The initiative will teach residents about the current system and further detail what coordination of residential curbside trash collection could look like if that idea is pursued.
The City’s objectives in pursuing this idea are two-fold: making trash pick up cheaper for residents while increasing access to services such as recycling and at the same time, making sure the collection process is more cost-effective for haulers. Improving access to recycling could help to extend the life of the City’s landfill, which is an inherited obligation that carries significant state and federal obligations for its environmental management and maintenance into perpetuity.
For nearly 20 years, various options for improving the curbside trash collection portion of the System have been discussed. Ninety percent of cities have some type of coordinated trash collection system for curbside pick up, but Springfield does not. Under a coordinated system, the City would work with trash haulers to coordinate their work. It is the City’s intention that no local hauler would go out of business.
“Our studies have shown that there are opportunities on the trash collection side of the system,” said Director of Environmental Services Steve Meyer. “For example, in a given day, numerous trash trucks criss-cross the city multiple times a day every week to serve residents citywide. In contrast, school buses traverse the city on routes in a more efficient system which saves fuel and wear and tear on streets. If our school bus system ran like our trash collection system, every student would choose which school bus he or she wanted to ride and it would be a very inefficient system.”
Cities providing coordinated curbside trash collection offer residents lower costs, while providing enhanced services. The average charge for trash collection in Springfield’s benchmark cities is $12.76 / month, with the national rate for cities similar sized to Springfield is $16.41. The average rate among Springfield’s neighboring cities is $12.50 / month.
Part of the education and outreach effort will be to continue to gather data from Springfield residents on what they are currently paying and for what services. When surveyed previously, cost was the predominant priority indicated by residents. Sixty-four percent of residents surveyed said they were open to changes in the system if it resulted in lower prices.