Maplewood’s benefits of District Hauling

Here is information on how district hauling benefited Maplewood MN.

4-13-15

Hello Councilmember Wojcik:

The City of Maplewood previously had an open hauling residential trash system with nine licensed haulers and an organized recycling system with one contracted hauler city-wide. In 2011 the City of Maplewood conducted a solid waste management study to create more efficiencies in our trash hauling system. The study was conducted under the old Solid Waste Management Statute which required cities at that time to hold a public hearing just to begin the study (adopt a resolution of intent to organize), then carry out a 90 day planning period, 90 day negotiation period, and finally adopt official findings for organizing trash hauling prior to approving the new system. The process was very controversial, particularly because of the Solid Waste Management Statute that created an adversarial, rather than collaborative, environment with the haulers. After the required planning, negotiation, and findings, the City Council approved an organized trash system with one hauler contracted to collect trash throughout the city. The City of Maplewood was the first city in 20 years to organize trash hauling under the old statute. Because of Maplewood’s experience, the State Legislature revised the Solid Waste Management Statute in 2013 to create a more fair system allowing cities to study and organize their solid waste management systems. Since that time, the City of Saint Anthony Park is the first city to organize their trash hauling under the new statute. With the new statute they did not have to hold a public hearing just to begin the process. They simply sat down with all four haulers in the city and began to discuss how to create a more efficient system. Their new system has each existing hauler maintaining their household count, but divides the city into four areas where each hauler collects trash. While Maplewood’s story is interesting, how we got here will not be the same for other cities that follow. Our system, however, is something to study and consider for other cities.

During our planning process one of our Councilmembers at the time (John Nephew) did a study on trash hauling rates. He asked residents to forward their actual trash hauling bills to him for review. In Maplewood haulers were required to report their rates to the city, but we found that those were not the rates that they were actually charging a majority of our residents. Based on the reported and actual rates, compared to the rates approved in the contract with Republic Services (with service beginning October 2012), our residents are saving $1 million per year on reported rates, and $1.6 million per year on actual rates. On average, residents are now saving 50 to 75 percent from their previous open hauling trash bill.

The Maplewood Environmental and Natural Resources Commission studied the trash hauling system and made the recommendation to organize our system to the City Council. During the Environmental Commission’s review, their main goals were environmentally related (reducing emissions, reducing pollution, better management of trash, impacts to roads, etc.). Once it got to the City Council, however, their top goal was economics, ensuring that any new system saved the tax payers money. During the planning process, the Minnesota Department of Transportation was conducting a study on effects of heavy vehicles on local roads. The study is now complete and there is a tool for local governments to use to determine impacts of multiple heavy vehicles (trash hauling trucks, the heaviest vehicle on our local roads) has on the local roadways. Here is a link to the study: https://www.dot.state.mn.us/research/TS/2014/201432.pdf.

In summary, the City’s new trash hauling system is running smoothly with prices remaining low. We have not officially conducted a study on the before and after, but do see the positive results in less vehicle traffic on our roads, all residential trash going to the RRT facility for processing, low trash hauling rates for our customers, and the ability to better manage our solid waste. For more information on the City’s system visit our trash hauling webpage at www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/trash.

The League of Minnesota Cities’ annual conference in Duluth on June 24 through 26 will have a session on organizing solid waste in cities. Several cities that have implemented organized collection will share their experience of what worked well and experts in the field will discuss actions other cities can take to begin the process.

Good luck and let me know if you have additional questions.

Shann Finwall, AICP
Environmental Planner

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