The City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works (BPW) has approved a $3.5 billion waste hauling contract, which will include 11 franchise zones split amongst seven waste haulers. The seven haulers will need to meet certain environmental and employment standards set by the city in order to earn the right to operate in the zones.
If the franchise awards are approved by both the City Council and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Athens Services will manage waste in three zones, Republic Services two zones, Waste Management two zones, Universal Waste Systems one zone, NASA Services one zone, CalMet Services one zone and Ware Disposal one zone. The franchise rights would last for 10 years and would go into effect in July 2017.
“Winning a waste franchise zone guarantees haulers 10 years of business in the very lucrative L.A. market, thus providing them with an incentive to deploy less polluting trash trucks, end dependence on landfills and develop good jobs in the state-of-the-art green infrastructure needed to sort and process new waste streams,” Linda Escalante of the Natural Resources Defense Council in a press release.
This new zoning system was proposed to ensure that more trash is recycled and less trash is sent to landfill, according to Zero Waste L.A. The new system could also help reduce air pollution from truck traffic and add more jobs.
Lisa Carlson, environmental supervisor, Solid Resources Commercial Franchise Division, City of Los Angeles spoke at the Waste360 Recycling Summit last week and said the franchise zones would play a role in the city's zero waste ambitions.
The city currently recycles cans, bottles, plastics, glass, newspaper, other paper, cardboard, styrofoam, wire hangers, film plastic and plastic bags. Carlson put the city’s current recycling rate at more than 76 percent. To meet its 2025 goal of 90 percent recycling, however, the city must reduce landfill disposal by 1 million tons annually.
Under the franchise system, the city plans to incentivize the behavior it wants—increased recycling and processing of organics—by charging businesses a solid waste rate based on how much trash is in black bins. Unlimited recycling and organics will be included. “Since solid waste collection will have a cost for business, it’s an incentive to reduce their bills,” Carlson said. But she added that the city will monitor bins closely to make sure people just aren't tossing everything into recycling bins to lower their waste bills.
While L.A. is moving forward with a franchise zoning system, New York may be next in line. In August, the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) released the findings of a study that recommends that the city move ahead with implementing commercial waste collection zones.