The Trend Toward Regional Privately-Owned Landfills

Publish Date: 2006

The purpose of this report is to document the trend toward the utilization of regional, privatelyowned municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills in the United States and to discuss the impacts of this trend on integrated solid waste management systems.

The SWANA Applied Research Foundation’s (ARF) Year 5 (FY2006) Disposal Group identified this issue as a high importance to the group. This report was prepared by the SWANA ARF staff with input and guidance provided by the ARF Disposal Group Subscribers,1 who are listed in Table 1-1. This topic was submitted by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County (North Carolina) Utilities. As described in their submittal,

“Recent trends indicate that many aspects of solid waste management are being shifted from the public sector to the private sector. In some cases, this shift is occurring because of short-term local/regional economic and market pressures that drive publicsector program managers and elected officials to privatize. If a comprehensive knowledge base documenting the short- and long-term costs/benefits of privatization were available, it would be a useful planning tool that would facilitate studied decisions. The research could address questions such as:

  • How closely is solid waste system “economic health” correlated with flow of waste in most publicly-operated programs? How much do economies of scale matter?
  • What types of measures are communities using to influence the flow of waste?
  • What other measures are communities using to ensure adequate funding?
  • How does the efficiency of public-sector systems compare to the efficiency of privately-operated systems?
  • Will the trend of privatization of solid waste management programs continue; and if so, at what rate?”

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