Contract for Trash

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Fort Collins is considering a contracted system for residential trash and recycling collection. In a contracted system, haulers compete for the chance to provide service to all single-family, duplex and small multifamily homes (with seven or fewer units) in a neighborhood. Households that want to use a different hauler can pay an opt-out fee. Communities in Colorado and across the U.S. have found that this type of system reduces the number of trucks in residential neighborhoods, makes prices more consistent, and increases opportunities for recycling and composting.


Systems for trash and recycling collection

There are four ways that cities manage trash and recycling collections for households: a pure open market, an open market with licensing, a contracted system, and with a city-owned and operated hauling utility. Local government plays an increasing role in the different types of systems with the largest role in a city-owned and operated hauling utility and no role in a pure open market system.

Fort Collins currently has an open market with licensing for trash and recycling, meaning that many households shop for and choose their own hauler, or haul their own trash and recycling. Haulers have to be licensed by the City and follow specific guidelines. For example, in Fort Collins haulers must bundle trash and recycling services in what is called a pay-as-you-throw pricing structure, meaning households pay based on the size of their trash cart. There are currently three nationally-owned haulers in Fort Collins that service single-family homes: Waste Management, Republic Services (Gallegos Sanitation), Waste Connections (Ram Waste/Timberline Waste), and one new hauler called Mountain High Disposal.


What we’ve learned

We spoke with nine Colorado communities and cities in three other states about their experiences with contracted systems for curbside trash and recycling services. When talking with them, City staff learned these communities have found the following benefits to a contracted collection system:

  • Fewer trash and recycling trucks servicing the same neighborhood
  • Improved air quality and lower carbon emissions
  • More recycling and/or composting options
  • Access to consistent, uniform pricing

Identified disadvantages to a contracted collection system include:

  • Households must pay an opt-out fee if they want to choose their own hauler
  • Varying perspectives about the ideal role of government
  • An increased administrative role of the city organization
  • Difficult logistics if the city uses multiple trash districts


Who’s included

City contracts for trash and recycling services apply to single-family homes, duplexes, and small multifamily homes with seven or fewer units within City limits. Households that do not want to use the City contracted company can pay a monthly opt-out fee so that they can use the company they want.

Cities have approached homeowners associations (HOAs) in different ways in contracted systems. Some cities allow homeowners associations that already had contracts for trash and recycling to either opt-in to the city contracts or continue with their own contracts so long as they meet all city requirements. Other cities bring homeowners associations into their programs as their contracts expire or at a certain date regardless of the HOA contract status.

Colorado law does not allow City contracts for trash and recycling services to apply to larger apartment or condo complexes, or businesses.


Cost

Many cities that moved to a contract for their trash and recycling services can offer households rates that are comparable or lower rates than prior to contracting. Homeowners’ associations commonly achieve this same type of bulk pricing when they contract a single hauler to service all homes in the neighborhood. In both cases, the contracts in place allow a single company to provide services to a greater number of homes in one area, making their routes more efficient and leading to costs savings.

Environmental Service staff are currently looking to better understand the extent of the variability that exists in the current open market system in Fort Collins. To support this, please consider sharing your trash bill information.


Customer Service and Billing

The cities we spoke to had differences when it came to how they manage customer service and billing. Many cities include curbside services with their monthly utility bill. If a city wanted to switch to a new company for curbside collection, providing billing in-house would mean customers still consistently receive bills from the city rather than from different companies.

Other cities choose to have their hauler directly bill households. If a city wanted to switch to a new company for curbside collection, the current service provider would have the advantage of having an established direct-bill relationship when a community seeks new proposals for service.

Many of the cities choose to have the contracted company handle customer service. This means that the contracted company would answer calls and requests related to things like missed collections, missing carts, or starting services at a new address. If a city manages customer service themselves, they would answer these calls and requests and relay needed information to the hauler.


Carts

The cities we spoke to vary the most when it comes to how they manage carts. Some cities choose to purchase carts themselves. This would mean that all carts in the neighborhood would have consistent colors for trash, recycling, and any other services included in the contract. These carts would likely have a city logo on them that would be different from the logo of the contracted company. If a city wanted to switch to a new company for curbside collections, using city-owned carts would mean that customers would never have to worry about switching their carts out for ones that use a different contracted company’s logo.

Some cities use the contracted company’s provided carts meaning that the colors and logos used would match the contracted company. Others asked each household to provide their own carts for trash and recycling collection.



View recordings of public meetings and Council presentations


Tell us what you think

Fort Collins is considering a contracted system for residential trash and recycling collection. In a contracted system, haulers compete for the chance to provide service to all single-family, duplex and small multifamily homes (with seven or fewer units) in a neighborhood. Households that want to use a different hauler can pay an opt-out fee. Communities in Colorado and across the U.S. have found that this type of system reduces the number of trucks in residential neighborhoods, makes prices more consistent, and increases opportunities for recycling and composting.


Systems for trash and recycling collection

There are four ways that cities manage trash and recycling collections for households: a pure open market, an open market with licensing, a contracted system, and with a city-owned and operated hauling utility. Local government plays an increasing role in the different types of systems with the largest role in a city-owned and operated hauling utility and no role in a pure open market system.

Fort Collins currently has an open market with licensing for trash and recycling, meaning that many households shop for and choose their own hauler, or haul their own trash and recycling. Haulers have to be licensed by the City and follow specific guidelines. For example, in Fort Collins haulers must bundle trash and recycling services in what is called a pay-as-you-throw pricing structure, meaning households pay based on the size of their trash cart. There are currently three nationally-owned haulers in Fort Collins that service single-family homes: Waste Management, Republic Services (Gallegos Sanitation), Waste Connections (Ram Waste/Timberline Waste), and one new hauler called Mountain High Disposal.


What we’ve learned

We spoke with nine Colorado communities and cities in three other states about their experiences with contracted systems for curbside trash and recycling services. When talking with them, City staff learned these communities have found the following benefits to a contracted collection system:

  • Fewer trash and recycling trucks servicing the same neighborhood
  • Improved air quality and lower carbon emissions
  • More recycling and/or composting options
  • Access to consistent, uniform pricing

Identified disadvantages to a contracted collection system include:

  • Households must pay an opt-out fee if they want to choose their own hauler
  • Varying perspectives about the ideal role of government
  • An increased administrative role of the city organization
  • Difficult logistics if the city uses multiple trash districts


Who’s included

City contracts for trash and recycling services apply to single-family homes, duplexes, and small multifamily homes with seven or fewer units within City limits. Households that do not want to use the City contracted company can pay a monthly opt-out fee so that they can use the company they want.

Cities have approached homeowners associations (HOAs) in different ways in contracted systems. Some cities allow homeowners associations that already had contracts for trash and recycling to either opt-in to the city contracts or continue with their own contracts so long as they meet all city requirements. Other cities bring homeowners associations into their programs as their contracts expire or at a certain date regardless of the HOA contract status.

Colorado law does not allow City contracts for trash and recycling services to apply to larger apartment or condo complexes, or businesses.


Cost

Many cities that moved to a contract for their trash and recycling services can offer households rates that are comparable or lower rates than prior to contracting. Homeowners’ associations commonly achieve this same type of bulk pricing when they contract a single hauler to service all homes in the neighborhood. In both cases, the contracts in place allow a single company to provide services to a greater number of homes in one area, making their routes more efficient and leading to costs savings.

Environmental Service staff are currently looking to better understand the extent of the variability that exists in the current open market system in Fort Collins. To support this, please consider sharing your trash bill information.


Customer Service and Billing

The cities we spoke to had differences when it came to how they manage customer service and billing. Many cities include curbside services with their monthly utility bill. If a city wanted to switch to a new company for curbside collection, providing billing in-house would mean customers still consistently receive bills from the city rather than from different companies.

Other cities choose to have their hauler directly bill households. If a city wanted to switch to a new company for curbside collection, the current service provider would have the advantage of having an established direct-bill relationship when a community seeks new proposals for service.

Many of the cities choose to have the contracted company handle customer service. This means that the contracted company would answer calls and requests related to things like missed collections, missing carts, or starting services at a new address. If a city manages customer service themselves, they would answer these calls and requests and relay needed information to the hauler.


Carts

The cities we spoke to vary the most when it comes to how they manage carts. Some cities choose to purchase carts themselves. This would mean that all carts in the neighborhood would have consistent colors for trash, recycling, and any other services included in the contract. These carts would likely have a city logo on them that would be different from the logo of the contracted company. If a city wanted to switch to a new company for curbside collections, using city-owned carts would mean that customers would never have to worry about switching their carts out for ones that use a different contracted company’s logo.

Some cities use the contracted company’s provided carts meaning that the colors and logos used would match the contracted company. Others asked each household to provide their own carts for trash and recycling collection.



View recordings of public meetings and Council presentations


Tell us what you think

  • In open market trash and recycling systems (like Fort Collins’ current system), those living in the same city, the same neighborhood, and even right next door to each other can be paying drastically different amounts for the same trash services, even when they have the same hauler.  We’re seeking to understand the range of different amounts that our community members are currently paying for their trash services. To support this, please consider sharing your trash bill information with us through this survey, or by sending a copy of your bill to recycling@fcgov.com.  If you prefer to remain anonymous, please feel free to black out your name and any contact information but please leave your address visible as that is essential to understanding how pricing may vary by location or neighborhood. Your personal information will not be shared publicly – only aggregate information will be shared.

    Note: The proposed contract only applies to single-family, duplex, and small multifamily homes with seven or fewer units in Fort Collins. 

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Page last updated: 03 Aug 2022, 01:11 PM