Study finds inefficient trash, recycling system in Springfield

Published: Apr. 18, 2017 at 4:29 PM CDT
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A study of Springfield's trash and recycling collection finds it is not the most efficient system available, and city council members are looking at some potential changes.

Springfield has a free market system, with 12 licensed residential haulers within city limits. Citizens had previously expressed concerns about wear and tear on streets, noise and traffic congestion. A Kansas City consulting firm, Burns and McDonnell, hired by the city, gathered opinions from people by phone, in a survey and in open houses.

They found Springfield residents pay more than people in some surrounding communities, without added services like recycling or yardwaste and bulky item pickup. It found most citizens care about the environment, but only 55 percent recycle.

The researchers believe more people would recycle if it were more convenient and affordable. The study, as well as citizens who showed up for the lunch meeting, make it clear they want existing trash haulers protected.

"I'm interested in them not being affected and still be able to keep their business going," said Springfield resident Lori Ragain.

"Competition; it's what keeps the prices regular. And you get the government controlling the prices and they're going to steadily go up," said John Brizendine, another Springfield resident.

City staff did not recommend going to a one-hauler or municipal system. City council members agreed to give trash haulers a two-year notice, required by law, that they're looking at potential changes. They'll look more closely at the report and meet again in about a month to discuss the options.


for anyone who wants to read the entire findings and conclusions.

News release from City of Springfield

The City of Springfield has concluded the first phases of a Trash and Recycling Collection Efficiency Study that have included an analysis of the current collection system, several methods of public outreach and regional and benchmarking comparison research.

The in-depth study was commissioned after questions were brought up by the Neighborhood Advisory Council and City Council regarding potential impacts and inefficiencies of the current system. Springfield has a free market system for the curbside collection of the community’s solid waste (trash and recycling materials).

Findings from the public outreach phase reflect a statistically valid representation of the city population and reveal that Springfieldians are open to change, but value these four factors: cost, quality and variety of services, environmental stewardship and protecting the interests of small, local businesses.

Study results show that residential trash service is provided by more than 10 licensed haulers within city limits. More than 58 percent of citizens report paying more than $12 per month for trash collection. Reported prices vary considerably from $10 per month to more than $16 per month for trash service only.

Several other Missouri communities with citywide programs provide multiple curbside services (trash, recycling, bulky item and/or yard waste collection) with bundled pricing. Springfield residents appear to be paying similar per household rates without including the extra services.

In order to forecast costs of service for an optimized collection program in Springfield, a financial analysis was conducted using a series of industry benchmark inputs. Results indicate it could cost less than $10 per month for trash collection and less than $13 per month for combined trash and city-wide curbside recycling collection.

Seventy-three percent of citizens believe it is important for the City to practice environmentally responsible waste management such as recycling.

City staff members are requesting that City Council members eliminate certain options from future consideration. Council members are being provided with a full study report before Council reconvenes to discuss and deliberate options.

End of news release