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Pitch

Smaller cities should contract one garbage hauler rather than have several companies' trucks retracing one another's routes.


Description

Summary

It may be the American way to attempt to lower consumer costs by allowing multiple waste disposal companies to compete directly for customers, but it ultimately leads to inefficiency, higher environmental costs, and perhaps, even higher overall costs in the long run.

If three companies send trucks through the same neighborhoods every week, or in some places, twice a week, then there are more trucks going over the same roads doing a less efficient job than if they stopped and picked up everyone's garbage instead of a few houses per block.  Multiply that inefficiency, if there is curbside recycling being carried out by multiple companies, as well.  

More trucks leads to more fuel consumption, which leads to more pollution, including greater greenhouse gas emissions.  (Of course, greater fuel production and transportation lead to more pollution, but we tend to only consider the point of consumption.) More trucks also require more lubricants, tires, belts, etc. leading to addition pollution during production, shipping, and disposal.

A greater number of heavy vehicles would be expected to cause greater wear and tear on roadways, so the roads probably need to be patched and repaved more frequently, leading to more pollution and higher taxes.


Category of the action

Reducing emissions from waste management


What actions do you propose?

I propose that it would lower greenhouse gas emissions and other types of pollution, if small- to medium-sized cities selected a single waste company to service their city as a whole, or perhaps, particular sections, in the case of larger cities.  Periodic bidding might keep the costs down.  The danger is that one giant company might dominate and raise costs after running off the completion, but awarding contracts to sections of the city might avoid competitive exclusion.  By operating more efficient routes (collecting from every house in an area rather than just sporadically along their routes), waste collection companies might also operate at lower costs.

Cities should also include mandates about truck emissions and fuel efficiency in the contracts.


Who will take these actions?

City governments


Where will these actions be taken?

In cities currently serviced by more than one waste disposal company


What are other key benefits?

Decreased road wear = less frequent repair = decreased pollution and lower costs

Fewer trucks over all = fewer tires, belts, lubricants and associated pollution from production, shipping, and disposal

Possibly lower overall costs


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

I do not know.


What are the proposal’s costs?

I do not know.


Time line


Related proposals


References