A more stable, predictable trash processing system can help control costs

Ramsey and Washington county officials are working to find ways to create a modern trash processing system that offers more stability and predictability, and ultimately ensures greater control of our costs.

Several new technologies are available that can help us meet those goals in the short and longer term.

Operated since 1987, our current trash processing system has performed very well. And, in a recent survey of residents, nearly 8 in 10 residents have told us so. They also told us they appreciate that Ramsey and Washington counties are putting trash to good use and generating energy with it.

But as managers of our trash processing system, county commissioners want to avoid the unexpected shifts in the solid waste marketplace seen in recent years that made our current approach to trash processing less stable and less predictable than we would like.

Ramsey and Washington counties have the legal authority to oversee where and how that trash is processed. They also have the legal responsibility to manage any risks associated with how trash is handled in our counties, including economic risks such as making sure that trash collected in our counties is processed safely and costeffectively, and that we’re not putting today’s trash processing costs on the backs of future generations.

Other trash processing risks include:

  • Public health and environmental risks such as protecting our air, land and water.
  • Safety and health risks such as protecting workers that handle trash and recyclables.

Through careful consideration and planning, Ramsey and Washington county officials have devised and continuously improved a solid waste management system that emphasizes protection of health, the environment and workers.

For example, both counties operate household hazardous waste collection sites where residents can safely dispose leftover household chemical wastes that don’t belong in the trash.  And the counties regulate toxic wastes produced by manufacturers and others so that they don’t end up in the trash or landfills.