Laura Dean Lytle

There are 27 cities in Arizona with more people than Apache Junction. Yet, none of them have the chaotic, higher-cost trash hauling structure that we do. Why?

Because those communities tired of all the garbage trucks ripping through town with noise, pollution and tearing up roadways. But they discovered something else. To some, it may sound counterintuitive.

The more customers a company can serve the lower the price for them. There are simply more efficiencies and more economies of scale. Think of it this way. McDonald’s can charge less for hamburgers than most because it makes more of them and has more customers. It works the same way for a garbage company hauling trash. The more homes they can service, the lower the price for residents.

Discovering this, cities have a competition for the privilege of serving as the trash hauler on the front end of the process. They ask all qualified companies to bid on serving the entire community and what those costs will be. The result is not a “monopoly.” It is the result of competition. The company selected is then bound by a contract, known by the public, which limits fees, increases and service requirements to what is in that agreement. There is a limit to how many years a company can serve the community and that city has provisions to cancel the contract if the service is poor.

Our next door neighbor of Queen Creek is one of the many towns that currently has one company serving its community. The original contract is now up and leaders there are currently asking for new proposals, including by the current hauler, to review who is best and at what price to serve the city.

Apache Junction embarked on this process earlier this year. It received multiple bids from Waste Management, Right-Away-Disposal (now owned by a company based in Houston) and Republic Services. Republic Services was selected. It also had the lowest cost per household.

AJ is now finalizing terms and requirements that will guide the terms and service of Republic.

It’s about time. Twenty-seven other Arizona cities larger than AJ are not wrong and we cannot continue to be an outlier with our trash if we want to clean up our City. Change always generates critics, sometimes from companies that are displaced.

It is time for Apache Junction to join the proper ranks of cities that have helped their citizens’ quality of life and their pocketbook by reforming and improving trash hauling.

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