One of the most difficult political facts facing local government elected officials is municipal solid waste management (MSWM). Everyday elected officials through their policy, administrative and MSWM professional staffs face decisions which are guaranteed to be politically unpopular. Siting, increasing rates, building new facilities, recycling versus combustion versus landfill—all of these issues challenge the local government official. To answer the question, what is the best public policy for managing our municipal solid waste?, many local governments are turning to regionalization. Regionalization provides a number of benefits, the most apparent being:
- Economies of scale
- Spreading political risk
- Placing MSWM on a business-like basis
- Maintaining local oversight and control
Establishing regional systems is a complicated process. Institutional arrangements, funding approaches, organizational structures, and operations are key steps to success. SWANA, through its Center for Regionalization of MSWM, has prepared case studies on regionalization to assist local governments in planning and implementing regional MSWM systems. It is SWANA’s hope that through information such as this, local governments will address their responsibilities in MSWM, and embrace regionalization as a part of assuming those responsibilities.