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NSWMA Issues Report on Privatizing Waste Collection

NSWMA report says privatized waste services cost less. SWANA disagrees.

The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) has released a research bulletin that says privatizing waste collection, recycling and disposal services saves money and promotes safer operations. The bulletin drew a stinging rebuke from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), which largely represents public sector waste officials.

Citing a statistic from the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, NSWMA’s report says that privatizing waste services typically results in costs savings of 20 percent to 40 percent. NSWMA also says that the U.S. cities with the highest recycling rates, such as San Francisco and Seattle, have fully privatized recycling operations.

The report further claims that private waste operations are safer than those in the public sector. NSWMA cites recently released federal statistics that show public sector waste operations have an incident rate that is four times higher than the rate of their private waste counterparts.

“During a time when municipalities are facing declining revenues and severe budget shortfalls, waste collection, recycling and disposal are among the services most ideal for privatization,” said Bruce Parker, president and CEO of NSWMA, in a press release.

In response, SWANA released a statement that says, in part, “No one is surprised when, in tough economic times, a trade organization takes the lead in promoting the financial interests of its members. Fair enough. But not when it seeks these ends by distorting the facts and attempting to confuse the public.”

“This release was authored by an organization that has a clear bias toward the private sector, which funds most of its activities,” said Dick Sprague, a SWANA International Board Member. “It could be countered with numerous ‘managed competition’ articles that demonstrate the exact opposite: when public and private parties bid under defined terms and conditions, the public party almost always wins, even in highly unionized utilities.”

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