Advocating Membership

MOST OF THE TIME, TRADE ORGANIZATIONS will say that joining their group provides greater access to industry information and ensures that your company's voice is heard through advocacy. Membership also creates networking opportunities for your company and employees on a professional level. While all of these are important, as trade association staff, we often fail to explain exactly what we advocate and why those issues are relevant to waste companies.

In 2004, at the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), state chapters took action on bottom-line issues for waste service companies. For example, in Delaware, several state agencies are promoting legislation that will require hauling companies to collect recyclables. NSWMA is working to ensure that any requirements the state adopts will not burden the industry with unrecoverable costs or with operational changes that do not make sense. In Massachusetts, NSWMA blocked a $0.70 per ton tax on commercial waste, which amounts to a cost avoidance of more than $5 million. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, landfill trash taxes were successfully opposed. When New York City began revising its transfer station siting and operating rules, NSWMA fought to ensure the changes would benefit private waste haulers. NSWMA's Illinois Chapter blocked the elimination of a motor fuel tax exemption. In Minnesota, NSWMA is helping members build their customer relations through an image campaign.

Protecting the industry's future is an important role that NSWMA plays. Through legislation developed by NSWMA's Arizona Chapter, that state now allows for research and development landfills (i.e., bioreactors). The Arizona Chapter also stopped legislation that would have increased solid waste fees.

In South Carolina, the chapter joined Palmetto Pride, an antilitter and beautification organization, to develop an antilitter campaign. The campaign will make the state a cleaner place to live and improves members' customer and community relations. To keep the playing field level, the Florida Chapter worked hard to block legislation that would have offered solid waste trust funds for recycling only to one company.

In Georgia, the chapter helped kill legislation that would have given local governments open-ended control to deny solid waste permits without cause. Another bill that would have prohibited the building of a solid waste facility within 3 miles of a residence also was killed. In addition, by sponsoring a county commissioners' meeting, the Georgia Chapter provided members with access to decision-makers on natural resources legislation.

Gov. Brad Henry signed an NSWMA Oklahoma chapter-proposed bill allowing for a 35 percent fuel tax credit on vehicles using power take-off systems. In addition, legislation requiring landfill owners and operators to build roads and bridges in and out of their facilities in accordance with whatever specifications counties devised was blocked by the Oklahoma Chapter. These are just a few of the issues that association staff and members work on daily. Expert staff also are available to members to answer company-specific questions. Fact sheets, white papers and research bulletins are developed on member-requested topics, such as residential trash collection, safety, bioreactor landfills, privatization, just compensation, recycling and municipal solid waste data, and odor control, just to name a few. Educational programs on various industry and business topics are developed based on members' needs at the local and national levels. This advocacy and education — coupled with golf tournaments, baseball games, dinner meetings, and other networking and social events — provide members with a complete package of services.

If your company is not participating, your concerns may not be addressed, or you may learn about bottom-line impacts after your competitors have already taken advantage of them. To learn how you can join, contact our membership services department at (800) 424-2869. You can also review membership information and industry issues on NSWMA's Web site at Get on board!

Alice Jacobsohn is the director of public affairs and industry research for the National Solid Wastes Management Association. She can be reached by calling (800) 424-2869 or e-mailing [email protected].