New Recycling Program Surpasses Expectations

As reported in the Buffalo News, the city of Lockport recently privatized their garbage services by contracting with Modern Disposal Services. In the first four weeks of the new system, 33 percent less trash was sent to a land-fill (569 tons vs. 853 tons).

The city pays $30.73 per ton for trash taken to a landfill, so the reduction in trash is a significant savings to the City. The city will additionally earn $1,500 for selling recyclables collected in the first month of the program. It is estimated that the City will save $459,000 in the first year by privatizing garbage services.

Part of the savings accruing to the City are due to:

  • Modern Disposal can use two trucks to pick up a route instead of the city’s five.
  • Modern’s personnel costs are 20 to 25 percent lower than the city’s.
  • Modern has automated cart lifters on its trucks specially designed to pick up garbage bins. The city would have to buy those.

It is estimated the city will save $10.2 million in a decade of privatized service. That includes not having to spend some $2.5 million to buy a fleet of new garbage trucks. 15 employees of the sanitation department took an early retirement incentive offered by the state, as such the City will no longer have to pay for their salaries . To pay for the private garbage service, city residents will incur the cost of a garbage user fee.

Bringing about new ways of providing government services is never easy. Due to opposition about privatizing garbage services, Common Council President Richelle Pasceri lost a Republican primary this year but was able to win reelection running on two minor party lines. Pasceri led the charge to change how Lockport provides garbage services and it nearly ended her term in office. As Pasceri stated in the Buffalo News “…a lot of people had anxieties”.

Change brings anxiety to a lot of people but in these difficult budget times we need to reinvent how government operates. What do you think of the approach taken in Lockport?