To understand the real cost of trash

We first need to know that “all trash is local,” meaning that the type of trash service can vary from city to city. We also need to account for all the pieces that support this necessary public service. That includes containers, collection vehicles, transfer stations, processing facilities, landfills, and the equipment to operate each. These all cost money to buy, operate, and maintain, whether privately- or publicly-owned.

Generally, the cost of trash service has two distinct parts: collection, and disposal. Local and national studies show that about 2/3 of the cost comes from the collection and transportation of waste, which includes things like the cost of trucks, maintenance, fuel, labor, insurance, and so on. The other 1/3 is for disposal – the “tipping fees” that haulers pay to deposit waste at a transfer station, processing facility, or landfill.

Some key things to note:

  • All money to pay for trash collection and disposal starts with waste generators: the residents, institutions and businesses that pay to have waste managed.

  • In general, the East Metro is a user-fee based system, with generators paying haulers for the services provided, and paying state taxes and county charges on that service.

  • Some residents pay their city for trash collection, and the city contracts with a hauler or haulers to provide the service.

  • In January, 2018, all trash generated in Ramsey and Washington Counties will, by law, be required to be delivered into the counties’ system for handling waste.

  • Haulers pay a per-ton fee for disposal of waste at a transfer station, processing facility, or landfill. For waste delivered to the Recycling & Energy Center in Newport (or to one of the approved transfer stations serving the facility), the tipping fee that haulers pay is set by the Ramsey/Washington Recycling & Energy Board to cover the cost of handling that trash.