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The Residential Garbage Rate

Even though we all call it the “garbage bill,” the rate you pay covers a lot more than just your weekly garbage collection services.  The information provided here is designed to help explain what makes up your garbage rate, answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and provides resources to help you stay updated on what is happening with garbage rates.

Historically, your garbage rate has been tied to the size of your black garbage cart using a progressive rate structure.  Using “progressive” rates means that the larger your garbage cart, the more you pay – so a resident using a 64-gallon cart would pay more than a resident with a 32-gallon cart.

However, the garbage rates cover SO much more than just what goes in your black garbage cart.

While each of the 12 RethinkWaste Member Agencies set the rates to address their own community’s unique needs, the garbage rate you pay is set to cover the costs for the following items in most cases:

  • Weekly garbage (black cart) collection
  • Weekly recycling (blue cart) collection
  • Weekly compost (green cart) collection
  • Curbside used battery and cell phone recycling
  • Curbside used motor oil and oil filter recycling
  • Twice annual bulky item collection program
  • Disposal fees at the landfill
  • Processing fees for recycling
  • Processing fees for composting
  • Street sweeping (in some cities)
  • County fees
  • Local fees
  • Landfill closure fees
  • Household hazardous waste fees

And you thought the garbage rate was simple?

The progressive rate structure has been very successful in encouraging residents to recycle more and downsize their garbage service level since it provides an incentive to do so.  However, a common misconception is thinking that the “cost to provide service” (that means the actual cost of the truck, the driver’s time, etc., and all the other items listed above) is significantly lower for those with smaller garbage carts, such as a resident with a 32-gallon garbage cart than someone who has a 64-gallon cart.

This is simply not true.  The size of your black garbage cart has a small impact on the cost of all of the other services (see above list) being provided that are paid for through your rate. Regardless of the size of the garbage cart, it still requires a driver and truck to collect it; the only expense that changes with the size of the cart is the cost of disposal and processing the materials.

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