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

Stephen Ursery, Editor, Waste Age Magazine

April 1, 2011

2 Min Read
NSWMA Issues Report on Privatizing Waste Collection

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.”

About the Author(s)

Stephen Ursery

Editor, Waste Age Magazine, Waste360

Stephen Ursery is the editor of Waste Age magazine. During his time as editor, Waste Age has won more than 20 national and regional awards. He has worked for Penton Media since August 1999. Before joining Waste Age as the magazine's managing editor, he was an associate editor for American City & County and for National Real Estate Investor.

Prior to joining Penton, Stephen worked as a reporter for The Marietta Daily Journal and The Fulton County Daily Report, both of which are located in metro Atlanta.

Stephen earned a BA in History from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

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