Waste privatization-A A +A
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
PRIVATIZING solid waste management might not be a waste of taxpayers' money.
Worldwide, local government budgets face the daunting task of balancing the bottom lines, that is, diminishing revenues and rising expenses. The task for any political leader worth their salt is to reduce the cost and size of government by concentrating on outsourcing some municipal services to focus on police and fire protection.
In these cities, solid waste are outsourced to private entities that can provide improved service at a lower cost, increased efficiency and other benefits. Waste collection, recycling and disposal are among the most prominent candidates for privatization in many of the world's cities.
The US think-tank Reason Foundation estimates that competitive delivery of solid waste services typically generates cost savings on the order of 20 to 40 percent. This is because private companies have the economies of scale to spread investment, environmental protection and procurement costs across multiple contracts and facilities. In addition, they are not hindered by governmental bureaucracies. Time and again, surveys and news stories show that cost savings are the primary reason for privatizing.
In fact, over 50 percent of US cities of varying sizes contract all or part of their refuse collection services. The National Solid Wastes Management Association (now Environmental Industries Association) has estimated that at least 50 percent of disposal capacity is privately owned and operated.
Outsourcing to private companies has come to our provincial capital. Our local executive is set to flick the green light to Metrowaste to proceed, as stipulated in the contract that won the bidding for the privatization of garbage collection in Bacolod.
Municipal solid waste management is not simply about managing biodegradable and non-biodegradables but that of livelihoods, however. Metrowaste assured that displaced DPS personnel from the drivers to the job order casuals, will be given first crack for rehires.
Metrowaste will handle garbage collection while the DPS will retain the responsibility for street cleaning, monitoring and enforcement of laws on solid waste management.
Of course, privatization is not a new concept and practice even in Bacolod. In my community, there are waste haulers that go around the subdivisions to collect cans, PET bottles, metals, and glasses. For them, waste is relative. Waste is wealth, if one knows where to sell these items.
In fact, these waste pickers are self-sufficient, not getting any government fees for their pains and efforts. It's the market, stupid.
If one goes around where the discards are consolidated, one can be surprised that the consolidators live in big houses alongside their holding areas for waste.
Unbelievable? Just visit the reclamation and confirm how metal scraps bring wealth to the consolidators.
Metrowaste will have its own dumptrucks and equipment, while the dump trucks of the city will be rehabilitated and distributed to departments and offices that need them.
In the case of Bacolod, though, it's not a case of all-out privatization but more of a private-public partnership. The DPS will retain four to five dump trucks to respond to the needs of the barangays such as Villamonte, Alijis, Sum-ag, Estefania, Banago, Bata, Mandalagan, Taculing. Metrowaste will use its own 40 dump trucks to collect wastes in other barangays.
I wonder though where segregation at source will come in the picture in the local PPP. I have yet to see honest-to-goodness citizen action across the board on the 3Rs on ecological waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. All that I read in the news are discussion on the division of responsibility on the collection and delivery of waste to landfills.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 14, 2013.