Detroit eyes privatization of waste and recycling service

Detroit eyes privatization of waste and recycling service

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Detroit is on the verge of privatizing its waste and recycling hauling service, potentially saving the cash-strapped metro as much as $15 million annually.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the city currently spends approximately $50 million per year on waste collection services for its 706,000 residents. In negotiations with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, both Waste Management and Republic Services offered to provide the same service at reduced cost to the city.

In 2012, Detroit offered curbside recycling service to approximately 38,000 out of the 264,000 households in the city, according to the "2012 Annual Recycling Report" distributed by the city's Department of Public Works. Participation in the curbside recycling program is cited by DPW as the largest non-financial challenge to recycling, with participation rates currently between 21 percent and 24 percent. In advance of the proposed changes, Zero Waste Detroit has urged the Emergency Manager's office to "initiate and articulate a vision that will demonstrate environmental leadership and provide economic opportunity for Detroit."

ReCommunity's single-stream material recovery facility in Southfield, Michigan, currently processes all of the city's curbside recycling, although that could change should Detroit go forward with privatization.

Also unknown is what privatization could mean for the city's waste and recycling hauling employees. The local Teamsters Union is skeptical of the proposal, which it says could affect as many as 150 city employees.

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