Citywide Waste Collection Initiative
After months of deliberation, City Council passed Bill 49-2020 authorizing citywide waste collection at the July 13th regular meeting. Starting January 2, 2020 properties with 1-6 residential units will be required to participate in the City’s waste collection program. The City will be releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) later this year to secure a contractor for this service. Service will include a number of improvements including:
- Increased focus on quality and cleanliness
- Senior discount for eligible residents
- Special collection locations for residents with disabilities
- Rear or alley collection in certain areas
Please bookmark this page and check back in the coming months for updates and more information about how this change will affect you. The City will also be sharing information to relevant properties by mail as well as posting facts and tips to the Public Works Department’s Facebook page.
Mayor Eddie Moran took office in January 2020 with a plan to address the four pillars of his administration: safe streets and neighborhoods, education and workforce development, community development, and leadership and integrity. Mayor Moran knows there is a strong connection between the cleanliness of our communities and the safety and prosperity of our residents and businesses.
The 2020 Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful report The Cost of Litter and Illegal Dumping in Pennsylvania demonstrated that the City spends over $2 million annually on litter and illegal dumping - 89% of that amount is spent in cleaning after the fact. Mayor Moran proposes citywide waste collection as one important step in a broader initiative to clean up Reading and make it an increasingly attractive place to live, learn, work and play.
The City of Reading should establish a citywide trash collection system because it is:
The current system is unfair to residents in two ways. First, the 80 percent of residents who use the system are paying for litter and illegal dumping clean-up through their fees, while residents who subscribe to a private hauler unfairly avoid this cost. Second, residents relying on private haulers increase the cost of municipal collection by reducing the efficiency of service. Other utilities – water, sewer, electric –distribute their costs among all customers, reducing the rates paid by each household. The City will enact a senior discount, provide rear-alley collection where reasonable, and work to accommodate people with disabilities to ensure our residents are not burdened by this change.
The City of Reading thanks residents who responsibly maintain the cleanliness and appearance of their properties. However, the current collection system, with multiple haulers and no standard service level, can lead to confusion about what is considered proper disposal of various waste items. When given a choice to choose a trash hauler, some individuals choose no hauler and avoid paying for trash collection through littering and illegal dumping. Citywide trash collection creates a consistent baseline level of service and eliminates the incentive to trash our streets and neighborhoods. The City will also increase the level of service provided and implement a more effective education and enforcement program.
Under the current system, the City and every private hauler has their own way of providing service. This creates confusion about what is acceptable and how waste should be prepared, especially for residents switching from one hauler to another and to or from the City's service. A citywide system will provide a uniform level of service delivered consistently in each neighborhood each week. The City will provide collection of trash, recycling, bulky items, tires, electronics, and yard waste.
Under the current opt-out trash system, the City must ensure every property has adequate trash service to eliminate the incentives for illegal dumping. The City relies on reports from private haulers and property owners to do this but only a small fraction of private haulers meet the regular reporting requirements and property owners almost never report when their hauler changes. The City cannot know what it does not know, and without the cooperation of private haulers and property owners the City cannot hold everyone accountable for properly disposing of their waste.
Like many industries, the waste collection business operates more efficiently at a larger scale. Simply stated, the cost per household to provide trash collection will be lower under a citywide system compared to the current system serving only 80 percent of households. A citywide system provides value that will make waste collection more affordable for everyone in the City to receive the baseline level of service needed to keep our streets clean.
Some residents may be concerned that citywide service would reduce competition, but the opposite is true. A citywide system leverages the size of 27,000 households to secure competitive bids from private companies, giving the City the ability to get rates significantly below what an individual household could get for the same service. The City routinely re-bids this service to ensure the City continually gets the best price for services rendered. This process will provide every hauler a fair and level playing field to submit a proposal that best meets the needs of the City. Reading is fortuitously situated in a region of Pennsylvania with many large and small haulers who are capable of providing this service.
Under the current opt-out system, with over 15 private haulers, it is common for five or more different haulers to drive down any given residential street to collect trash each week. These heavy-duty trucks disproportionately damage City streets – one full garbage truck is estimated to wear the streets as much as several thousand passenger cars (AASHTO Design Guide)! Reducing unnecessary garbage truck travel will extend the life of our streets and reduce both noise and air pollution in our residential neighborhoods.
Want more Information?
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Litter & Illegal Dumping Cost Study (Reading starts on pg. 47)
Technical Memo: review and recommendations for waste management: Reviews Reading's existing waste management system and recommends systematic improvements
Technical memo: waste program benchmarking: Compares the City of Reading to peer communities and recommends citywide collection as the single biggest factor limiting value and quality of City's services.
Technical memo: rate analysis: Analyzes the trash collection costs of the current contract and describes the annual collection premium paid by ratepayers to subsidize properties opting out of City collection.
City Council videos - watch live or view past Council meetings discussing the citywide waste collection initiative and other topics