How organics will be managed

Public vs. Private vs. Partnership

An important decision for communities is to consider the business model and level of infrastructure, operational involvement, control and cost they want to undertake if structured as a public utility.

Common models for municipal composting programs include:

  1. Publicly owned and operated facility
  2. Privately owned and operated facility
  3. Publicly owned but privately operated facility

In a “Public – Private – Partnership” (PPP), the city or regional government engage with a hauler and a composter to collaborate and define the specific requirements for curbside residential programs which would then be contracted and executed by either the composter or the hauler which is some cases can be a single entity. A PPP arrangement would typically include a hauler(s) and a composter that has or is prepared to build a composting facility to support the requirements of the goals and objectives of the community.

Such agreements can be as simple as a service contract with the service providers or a full “turn-key” solution that requires the hauler to execute a full program including the collaborative development and distribution of educational materials and the supply of bins that can be worked into a monthly per household collection fee. The composter agreement can be as simple as a monthly cost per ton tipping fee.

In a public-private-partnership it is important that the roles associated with sales and marketing of finished compost are clearly defined. The contract or agreement should specify who is responsible for which activities. It is recommended that the public entity includes purchasing some compost back through the contract itself, or if not feasible, that they work closely with other departments to ensure they are closing the loop and providing markets for compost generated from the collection program.

The local regulators would be able to cooperate with the service providers in application for grants and to pass the supporting bylaws and regulations to support the launch and ongoing support of the program. Organic bans and mandatory participation provide the best economies of scale. Model regulations are available from the USCC. ost_Rule.pdf

Advantages for local governments can include:

  • Low upfront capital and ongoing support costs
  • Known costs provide low risk
  • Fast implementation

Examples of various program models include:

Organized & hauled by the municipality with an ordinance
NYC funded by tax base, DSNY runs collection
Organized & hauled by the municipality without an ordinance
Cambridge, money from capital budget but grant funded
Organized by a municipality and hauled by contracted hauler(s) with an ordinance
Seattle, money from PAYT and residential fee
Organized by a municipality and hauled by contracted hauler(s) without an ordinance
Charleston, SC
A municipality passed an ordinance and hauled by “free market” of haulers
Seattle, Washington: comprehensive, residential & nonresidential properties receive service, and are required by the city to separate. Also supports backyard composting. Private haulers contract with residents and commercial customers, so city’s zero waste resolution mandated organics collection to haulers
Education: identifies citizen champions (need to double check this still occurs)
○ NYC: voluntary curbside collection program click here.
○ Boulder, CO: up against lower tipping fees, the city required haulers to offer recycling and composting (private haulers charge residents based on volume of trash). click here.
○ Education: instructional videos click here.
Hennepin County, Minnesota: Wayzata, a town in the county, works with one hauler who offers incentives and gift certificates to customers

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