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Managing and Transforming Waste Streams – A Tool for Communities

Contracting Best Practices: Align Costs to Rates

In many communities, tipping fees and disposal costs fund all or most of the waste minimization, recycling, and composting program costs.

Some communities are adjusting customer rates to reflect the actual cost of services provided for waste reduction, recycling, composting and solid waste disposal services because as the majority of materials are recovered, funding for zero waste programs will become unsustainable. Specifically, many high diversion rate communities have started charging for commercial recycling and composting when waste diversion rates reach 50% or 75%.

Advantages

  • Transparent cost information: Helps rate payers and elected officials appreciate and value waste reduction, recycling and composting services. Much of the general public believes that recycling and composting are "free" and that there is more monetary value in these materials as commodities than there actually is.
  • Increased diversion: Contractors will be more motivated to include composting, recycling and reuse services if these services are profitable.

Disadvantages

  • May reduce waste reduction participation: Disposal-based subsidies have been effective in promoting recycling and composting services to businesses. Reducing or eliminating disposal-based subsidies for recycling and/or composting services may reduce waste reduction or make it more difficult to attract new program participants.