United States
            Environmental Protection
                         October 1994
            Solid Waste and Emergency Response (5305)
            Joining  Forces on Solid
            Waste Management
            Regionalization  Is
            Working  in  Rural and
            Small Communities

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Joining Forces on Solid Waste Management: Regionalization Is
Working in Rural and Small Communities is a joint venture between
the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) and the
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Solid Waste,
developed under grant number X-818538-01-0. EPA and NARC would
like to thank the following individuals for their assistance in
the development of the case studies found in this handbook:

J. Everett Mitchell at Big Lakes Regional Council, Manhattan,

Nippy Page of Henderson County, North Carolina;

Robin Sexton-Smith at Land-of-Sky Regional Council, Asheville,
North Carolina;

Michael Johns at Green Hills Regional Planning Commission,
Trenton, Missouri;

Charles Foshey at Regional Waste Systems, Inc., Portland, Maine;

Roger Miner at Metropolitan Environmental Trust Authority, Tulsa,

Gary Olson at Southwest Recycling Cooperative, Tucson, Arizona;

Edward A. Hoyle, P.E. of Klickitat County, Washington.

EPA and NARC also would like to recognize the contribution of the
Land-of-Sky Regional Council, whose Solid Waste Planning Manual
for Local Governments, Development Districts and Councils of
Government was an important resource in the development of this

In addition, Mary Anderson-Lee, Mary P. Chappelear, Jennifer
Trendler, Sylvia Bryant, and Carole Anne Nelson of NARC
contributed to the development of this handbook. Their assistance
is greatly appreciated.

Maps from the Road Atlas copyright  1990 by Rand McNally,


Introduction	1
Using Regionalization in Your Community	5

     Advantages of Regionalization	  6

     Potential Obstacles to Implementing Regionalization	7

Getting Started	9

  Establishing a Regionalization Task Force	 10

  Studying the Feasibility of Regionalization	10

  Informing Residents	11

  Getting Technical Assistance for Your Regionalization
  Efforts	11

  Financing Regionalization Projects	 12

Types of Regional Organizations	13

  Intergovernmental Agreements	14

  Authorities, Trusts, and Special Districts	15

  Nonprofit Public Corporations	 15

  Regional Councils	  16

  Commercial Sector	17

Successes in Regionalization  	19

  Land-of-Sky Regional Council, North Carolina	19

  Metropolitan Environmental Trust Authority, Oklahoma	21

  Regional Waste Systems, Maine	 23

  Southwest Public Recycling Association, Arizona	 25

  Big Lakes Regional Council, Kansas	  27

Regionalization: It Can Work in Your Community	  29

Regionalization Resource Guide	  31

  Publications Available from EPA	  32

  EPA Resource Centers	  36

  EPA Regional Offices	  38

  Additional Federal Resources	  40


Because of limited resources, individual rural and small
communities can find it difficult to provide all the services for
which they are responsible, from public works projects to
municipal solid waste (MSW) management. One strategy that some
communities have developed to meet this challenge is
regionalization. Regionalization is a process whereby neighboring
cities, towns, and counties pool resources to address local
challenges. Through regionalization, rural and small communities
often are able to accomplish together what is difficult to do

One area in which regionalization has become an important tool is
MSW management, traditionally a function of individual local
governments. As managing MSW has grown increasingly complex,
rural and small communities in particular may find it difficult
to fulfill their responsibilities in this area. Unlike their
urban counterparts, rural and small communities often have a
lower tax base, which means limited revenues for financing waste
management activities.

Moreover, attempting to adopt integrated waste management (using
a complementary mix of waste prevention, recycling, combustion,
and landfilling) can present further challenges. While many
communities recognize the benefits of integrated waste
management, changing the status quo can be complex and costly-
especially in small and rural communities. By working together,
however, effective recycling programs (including the marketing of
recyclables and purchasing  of goods with recycled content),
state-of-the-art landfills, and waste-to-energy facilities are
within the reach of even small communities with few resources.

Joining Forces: Regionalization Is Working in Rural and Small
Communities provides readers with an introduction to
regionalization. This handbook discusses some of the key
advantages and potential barriers associated with
regionalization, explains the planning activities that need to
precede a multijurisdictional project, and describes the
different types of organizational approaches that can be used to
carry out regional solid waste management activities. It also
presents five successful regionalization efforts to help you
consider how regionalization might work in your own community. In
addition, the Regionalization Resource Guide at the end of this
booklet provides a list of resources that are helpful to
decision-makers considering multijurisdictional approaches to MSW

Integrated Waste Management
More and more communities are finding that  using integrated solid
waste management improves their ability to handle MSW in a safe
and environmentally sensible manner. Integrated waste management
relies on the complementary use of a mix of waste management
practices to safely and effectively handle MSW:

*Waste Prevention, or source reduction,  is the design,
manufacture, purchase, or use of materials and products to reduce

the amount and/or toxicity of discarded waste. Because it
reduces the amount of waste that a community must manage, waste
prevention is the preferred MSW management technique.

""Recycling, including composting, is the collection and use of
secondary materials for use as the raw materials in the
manufacture of new products. An important part of recycling is
"buying recycled," the purchase of products made from recycled

*Waste combustion and landfilling should be used for the waste
that cannot be prevented or recycled.


Whether your community is hoping to use regionalization to launch
a cooperative recycling program, finance the development of a
state-of-the-art landfill, or initiate some other solid waste
management project, it is important to consider carefully the
advantages and the potential obstacles offered by a
multijurisdictional strategy.
Advantages of Regionalization

When dealing with today's complex solid waste management issues,
communities are finding that regionalization offers some
important advantages, which can include:

Greater economies of scale. By joining forces, communities might
be able to implement a project that otherwise would be too
expensive for a single community. By combining financial,
administrative, personnel, and equipment resources, the cost of
pursuing certain projects  (such as developing state-of-the-art
landfills or conducting waste characterization studies) is spread
among several jurisdictions, bringing these projects within the
reach of small and rural communities.

Regionalization also can enhance the cost-effectiveness of
community recycling efforts. Communities might be able to command
a better price for their collected recyclables if they have a
large enough quantity on hand. In addition, buyers of recyclables
often specify minimum quantities of a particular material as a
contractual requirement.

Cooperative purchasing agreements among several jurisdictions
also can make "buying recycled" more cost-effective. Widely used
recycled supplies and products can be purchased in larger
quantities and at lower prices when communities pool their

Increased financial support. Regionalization can provide greater
leverage in obtaining the financial resources needed for solid
waste management planning and implementation activities. For
example, many states give priority to regional efforts when
disbursing grants and other forms of financial support for solid
waste projects.

Increased flexibility. Because of the greater resources available
and the improved economies of scale, regionalization opens up new
waste management possibilities. With more opportunities
available, communities can develop strategies tailored to their
specific needs and concerns.

Environmental improvement. Regionalization offers access to
state-of-the-art technologies, which can result in enhanced
environmental protection for many jurisdictions.

Recognizing the advantages of regionalization, many states are
beginning to mandate the development of multijurisdictional
partnerships to deal with solid waste issues. At present, a
number of states require regional planning as an adjunct to solid
waste management planning state-wide. Texas, for example,
mandates that its cities, counties, and regional councils prepare
coordinated solid waste management plans, with local plans to be
approved by regional councils. Check with the agency that
regulates solid waste in your state to find out if any laws or
regulations exist regarding regionalization of municipal solid
waste management in your area.
Potential Obstacles to Implementing Regionalization

Although regionalization offers many advantages, some potential
barriers also exist:

Potential partners can have different MSW management goals. While
neighboring communities share many common solid waste management
needs and concerns, disparities in population, geography,
industrial base, or other characteristics may make it difficult
for communities to agree upon specific regional projects.

Multistate or multicounty regional programs can face varying
regulations. Regions that straddle two or more states or that
include several counties  might need to resolve issues raised by
contradictory or conflicting laws and regulations.

Potential inequities can exist among neighboring communities.
Communities considering regionalization should recognize that the
costs and benefits of regional projects, although shared, will
not necessarily be identical for all communities. Tradeoffs might
have to be made.

For example, a community sending its waste to a facility shared
with its neighbors benefits from not having to site and manage a
landfill within its jurisdiction. However, it probably will be
subject to fees levied by the community in which the waste
management site is located. While the community hosting the
regional facility bears the financial costs and the potential
conflicts associated with siting a waste facility within its
jurisdiction, it is likely to receive such benefits as host fees
and free local disposal.

Hauling waste across jurisdictions can cause conflicts.
Regionalization sometimes can  require  that waste be transported
over long distances and through neighboring areas. Communities on
routes leading to a regional solid waste facility might see an
increase in traffic. Concerns over the resulting congestion,
pollution, and roadway wear and tear could create conflicts among

These and other potential barriers should be explored thoroughly
before embarking on any regional strategy. If a potential barrier
is identified early on, it is likely that an effective solution
can be found. For example, when considering a project that
involves the transportation of waste through adjacent
communities, officials could decide to restrict facility traffic
to certain roads or tax the facility to cover the costs of road
repairs. By acknowledging the potential obstacles up front,
communities can take constructive steps to overcome these


For communities considering a regional approach to solid waste
management, planning is the first step. Planning involves
studying the feasibility of regionalization, educating the
residents of participating communities, and identifying potential
sources of funding or other types of support. It is important to
bring together everyone involved at the beginning of this process
to ensure a successful program.
Establishing a Regionalization Task Force

Establishing a task force or other collaborative forum is a
useful way to bring neighboring municipalities together to map
out a project. Although local government officials probably are
acquainted with their counterparts in other jurisdictions, such a
forum helps to strengthen existing ties, open new lines of
communication, and facilitate the development of
multijurisdictional cooperation. To maximize its effectiveness,
the task force should serve as an open forum for discussing all
issues related to possible regionalization projects. Neighboring
communities considering regionalization need to learn as much as
possible about each others' solid waste management problems and

Task force members should represent all groups interested in
regionalizing solid waste management. Although local governments
typically are responsible for managing solid waste, citizens,
industries, and businesses generate this waste, and therefore
have a stake in its management. Others interested in solid waste
management include public interest groups, commercial solid waste
management companies, engineering firms, recovered materials
processors, manufacturers using recovered material feedstocks,
and purchasing agents responsible for buying recycled materials
and products.
Studying the Feasibility of Regionalization

The primary responsibility of the task force is to evaluate
whether and how regionalization might work in member communities.
Participating communities should develop a list of goals for the
regional effort that might include reducing the amount of waste

entering local disposal facilities, initiating recycling
programs, meeting state solid waste reduction goals, or siting a
state-of-the-art landfill or waste-to-energy facility. The task
force should gauge how regionalization will help meet these

For example, the economies of scale realized by building a
regional landfill might be sufficient to justify its development.
The advantages of a regional landfill, however, must be weighed
against the cost of transporting waste from several jurisdictions
to a central site. Social and political influences also need to
be considered. It simply might not be feasible to site any
facility where there is little support from citizens or elected
Informing Residents

Since local support is essential to the success of any project,
the task force needs to consider ways to inform residents about
regionalization and its advantages. To do this, many
regionalization efforts include a public education component. The
task force can take the lead in developing and implementing a
public education program that:

* Educates citizens about the purposes of regionalization and the
expected benefits to a community.

* Informs people about the ways in which planned changes in solid
waste management could affect them. For example, a decision to
collect and market recyclables in more than one jurisdiction
could alter the way in which households dispose of their trash or
separate their recyclables.

* Invites residents to participate in solid waste management
decision-making. Some techniques include conducting town meetings
and having citizen representation on the task force.
Getting Technical Assistance for Your Regionalization Efforts

If you would like advice on setting up a regional project, you
might contact communities that already have joined together to
provide municipal services such as transportation, emergency

medical services, or wastewater management. Contact state or
local government officials to find councils, development
districts, or planning commissions managing such efforts in your
area. State agencies that oversee environmental protection
efforts, community planning, or local government activities are
another potential source of technical assistance on regional
cooperation. (See the Regionalization Resource Guide at the end
of this handbook for a discussion of additional resources.)
Financing Regionalization Projects

While it often is limited, financial support sometimes is
available for such start-up activities as organizing neighboring
jurisdictions and exploring the feasibility of a particular
project. Check with state agencies responsible for environmental
protection, community planning, and rural development. Some
states also have comprehensive solid waste management laws that
include funding for regionalization projects.

Private foundations also may provide funding for regionalization
projects. For example, financial support provided by a private
local foundation enabled the Panhandle Regional Planning
Commission in Amarillo, Texas, to reach the funding level
required to receive a state matching grant to develop a regional
solid waste plan. When seeking grant money, emphasize that the
funds are  going to be used for a multijurisdictional project.
Putting together a list of the local governments involved and
their population figures can improve the impact of your proposal
by showing how many citizens will be served by the effort.

If sufficient funding cannot be secured from outside sources,
participating communities might have to share start-up costs.
Some regions divide the costs evenly; others base each local
government's share on population or budget size. For example,
when the  Green Hills Regional Planning Commission in Trenton,
Missouri,  helped establish a solid waste management  district in
the region, a fee of 25A  A per resident was collected initially.
After the district was formed, the state provided a $45,000
planning grant, and the 25A A fee was dropped.


While a task force is adequate for initial planning activities
such as studying regionalization and educating residents, a
permanent, regional management organization should be
established.  In many cases, the original task force members can
form the core of the new organization.

The regional management organization serves two key purposes:

* It implements the projects planned by the task force, providing
the necessary authority for financing solid waste management

* It serves as the formal management structure for all regional

Several different types of regional management structures
currently are being used. The type of structure chosen depends on
such factors as available financing, applicable laws, and
existing government bodies or regional organizations. The amount
of control that communities want to have over the organization
and the type of services or projects that the organization
oversees also are important factors. For example,  if a
regionalization effort entails constructing waste management
facilities or providing ongoing solid waste services, a formal,
legal structure with financing capabilities might be needed. For
a one-time project or a limited, clearly defined effort (such as
organizing a household hazardous waste collection program or
arranging for equipment sharing), a more flexible arrangement
might be appropriate.
Intergovernmental Agreements

Intergovernmental agreements are the most widely used type of
organizational structure for regionalization projects. These
agreements are contracts between two or more municipalities to
perform a specific task together. They may be informal
arrangements or more complicated legal contracts. (Generally,
only formal contracts are enforceable.) The primary advantages
of intergovernmental agreements are flexibility and expediency.
Communities can combine their resources on specific projects
without developing a formal organizational structure. One

disadvantage to these agreements, however, is that capital
financing can be hard to obtain since each participating
government must raise money for the project individually. For
each new decision, all jurisdictions must regroup and reach a new
agreement. Consequently, intergovernmental agreements often are
better suited for more limited regional projects.
Authorities, Trusts, and Special Districts

Some communities create an authority, public trust, or special
district to organize their regional program. Similar to
government agencies, such organizations are dedicated to
performing a specific, clearly defined public function (such as
managing MSW). Authorities, trusts, and special districts
frequently are granted the power to issue bonds, levy taxes or
assessments, or use other means to raise funds for specific
projects. Depending on state laws, they also can have the power
to impose regulations, contract with private companies, or take
other steps to perform their function. These organizations often
operate under a separate budget from member communities and are
administered by a board of directors composed of private citizens
rather than elected officials.

Because they often have jurisdictional authority and the power to
raise revenues,  authorities, trusts, and special districts can
have considerable political and financial independence. Such
autonomy helps these organizations sustain cooperative
partnerships among communities and execute projects in an
environment free of individual community politics. Most
communities set up an advisory board or establish a reporting
structure for the organization that ensures proper oversight.

A number of states have legislative provisions to establish
authorities, trusts, or special districts as part of solid waste
management. To find out if your state encourages (or requires)
the use of such  organizations for solid waste management
activities, contact your state attorney general  or state
environmental protection agency. Existing multijurisdictional
organizations within your state or attorneys assisting local
governments with legal matters also can provide assistance.

Nonprofit Public Corporations

Nonprofit public corporations, owned and managed by the
participating governments, also can operate regional programs.
Typically, member communities pay dues, and additional monies are
raised through fundraising. These organizations usually are
tax-exempt and can issue tax-exempt bonds (provided they meet
certain Internal Revenue Service criteria); this makes
fundraising easier.

Nonprofit public corporations are run as independent businesses.
A board of directors, made up of elected or appointed officials
from each jurisdiction, makes decisions concerning policies,
budgets, and operations. The boardroom serves as a forum for
resolving jurisdictional issues, planning the scope of services,
and setting waste management priorities. Communities might choose
to participate in specific contracts or programs, depending on
their individual needs.

While less independent than authorities, trusts, and special
districts, nonprofit corporations often can make decisions that
municipalities cannot. For example, a nonprofit corporation could
borrow money to finance long-term waste management projects while
local governments might be pressured to avoid debt.

Although nonprofit organizations offer communities many
advantages, establishing these organizations can be
time-consuming. As with authorities and special districts, the
state attorney general's office or local lawyers who specialize
in regional government matters are good sources of information
about the feasibility of using a nonprofit public corporation as
part of a regionalization effort.
Regional Councils

Regional councils are another commonly used approach to
multijurisdictional cooperation, with hundreds of such
organizations throughout the United States. Sometimes referred to
as councils of government, regional planning commissions, or
regional development centers, regional councils have been used to
organize and manage all types  of cooperative projects. A key
characteristic of regional councils is their flexibility.

Depending on state or local laws, member communities typically
can organize regional councils according to their specific needs.
Communities often form regional councils as a first step in a
regionalization project. Through the council, public and private
decision-makers can be brought together to consider a regional
strategy. If regionalization seems promising, the council then
can plan and implement the program.

Many communities that are considering regionalization already
belong to a regional council that was formed for other projects.
Using these existing regional councils for solid waste management
might be preferable, since connections between local governments
already have been established and financial and technical
experience has been developed.
Commercial Sector

Many communities are taking advantage of the increased level of
regional solid waste management services offered by the
commercial sector. Cooperative arrangements with businesses can
be used for a range of services, from hauling MSW to
administering an entire regional waste management system,
including financing, construction, and operation.

Contracting and franchising are the two most prevalent forms of
commercial involvement in solid waste management services. With
contracting, regional organizations enter into binding agreements
with businesses to provide specified services. These contracts
can be structured to emphasize particular goals, such as quality
of service or cost savings. Contracts between local governments
and businesses generally are governed by a state's public
contracting laws.

With franchising, the government entity grants a commercial
company (or several companies) the right to provide a service in
a defined geographical area. User fees frequently are charged to
pay for the services. Service level, quality, and  price usually
are controlled by regulation, rather than by competition.

Commercial enterprises can offer a number of benefits to
communities including expertise in the latest solid waste
technologies, lower costs, and extensive corporate experience. A
disadvantage of using private companies is the potential loss of

control and flexibility for participating communities. Another
possible disadvantage is the lengthy and frequently complex
competitive bidding process. Long-term contracts, while generally
cost-effective, might work against the best interests of
individual communities if market conditions or circumstances
change significantly.  In addition, the regional organization
will need to monitor contractor performance and compliance.

* Table 1. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Types of Regional
Organizations *

Type of Organization/Advantages/Disadvantages

Intergovernmental Agreements/
Offer the most flexible structure for regional cooperation-
communities can structure each project individually./
In the absence of a more formal organization, financing for
projects can be difficult to obtain.

Authorities, Trusts, and Special Districts/
Have political and financial autonomy. Able to raise funds
through bonds or taxes./
Member communities need to ensure public or government oversight.

Nonprofit Public Corporations/
Have financial autonomy. Are able to issue tax-exempt bonds,
making fundraising easier. Communities have control over
decision-making because local officials sit on the board of
Can take a long time to establish. Since communities have control
over decision-making, political considerations can influence

Regional Councils/
Can be structured to meet the needs of member communities.
Existing councils can lend experience and a shared sense of
Can have limited fundraising abilities.

Commercial Sector/
Can offer experience, access to state-of-the-art technologies,
and lower costs./
Can entail lengthy bidding and require contract negotiation. Less
control for participating communities.


Intergovernmental Agreement

Land-of-Sky Regional Council—North Carolina

For many communities, intergovernmental agreements arranged on a
project-by-project basis are the preferred method of structuring
multijurisdictional programs. In western North Carolina, member
communities of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council use the
organization as an informal tool for studying local issues and
considering the most appropriate solutions. To actually initiate
a project, however, the communities sign formal, binding
intergovernmental agreements. This way, the  local governments are
free of any political or financial obligations and can agree or
decline to participate in specific programs.

Member communities of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council have used
intergovernmental agreements to conduct a number of solid waste
management projects, including a feasibility study examining ways
to improve the regional market for recyclable  materials; a series
of waste reduction workshops for industries in the area,
complemented by waste assessments at some  prominent local
businesses; and solid waste educational efforts such as
promotions for a conference and a manual on  regional solid waste
management projects.

In another agreement, Henderson and Transylvania Counties joined
together to purchase and share a large piece of waste management
equipment. Both counties realized that they needed to employ
alternatives to landfill disposal for wood waste and green waste.
A tub grinder would enable them to process wood and other green
material into mulch and/or soil amendment. Since neither county
could justify spending over $200,000 to purchase its own grinder,
they agreed to work together to secure financial  support and
split the remaining cost. With the assistance of the Land-of-Sky
Regional Council, the two  counties were able to  secure a grant
from the Appalachian Regional Commission covering half the cost
of the grinder.

Because Transylvania County is much smaller than Henderson
County, the two counties negotiated an intergovernmental
agreement giving 5 percent ownership to Transylvania and 95

percent to Henderson. The purchase cost was divided accordingly.
Under the terms of the agreement, Henderson County retains the
right to store and use the grinder at will; as part owners,
Transylvania County is able to use the grinder upon request,
paying only for gas and maintenance while in use. In addition,
the counties agreed to minimize training and liability costs and
improve safety by training just one heavy equipment operator, a
Henderson County employee, to run the machine for both counties.

The agreement has proved to be a cost-effective strategy for both
counties. While there were no local precedents for developing an
equipment-sharing intergovernmental agreement, with the help of
the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the Appalachian Regional
Commission, and other regional organizations, the counties
created an arrangement that now serves as a model for neighboring
counties' solid waste management projects.
Public Trust

Metropolitan Environmental Trust Authority-Tulsa, Oklahoma

Finding the best multijurisdictional vehicle for a regional
program sometimes involves some initial experimentation.
Recently, a regional organization in Oklahoma called INCOG
(Indian Nations Council of Governments) predicted the need for
large-scale changes in the way that solid waste is managed in the
Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. Tulsa and eight neighboring communities
searched for a way to combine resources to meet the new
challenges involved with managing solid waste more efficiently.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts using other types of
regional structures, decision-makers from the community decided
that the most appropriate management organization was a public
trust. Under an Oklahoma state law, public trusts are organized
to fulfill a single purpose and are granted all the powers of
municipalities, including the power to issue bonds or borrow
money directly. The communities decided that the trust might be
more financially flexible than individual districts and have
greater independence to develop and manage projects.

Member communities carefully structured the trust, called the
Metropolitan Environmental Trust Authority (META), to ensure
equity among all members. A board of trustees, who are elected

community officials, manages META. Member communities hold an
equal share in the assets and liabilities of the organization. In
addition, unlike other regionalization trusts or authorities,
which often dictate voting power according to the population of
member communities, each municipality is given a single vote to
prevent densely populated communities from having more influence.
The funding structure is designed to support this balance. Member
communities are charged regular dues covering the overhead
expenses of META (approximately $85,000 last year). Fifty percent
of these costs are divided evenly among the members and 50
percent are assessed according to population. Specific META
projects charge each participating community separately. A
community can opt not to join a specific program; membership in
the trust is maintained simply by paying regular dues.

Projects often are initiated through a META proposal or "business
plan" that specifies the goals of the program, the steps that
will be taken, and the financial implications. META's first
project involved implementing permanent, 24-hour drop-off
recycling collection centers throughout the trust's member
communities. Called the Depot Recycling program, the project
involved siting special collection stations in the parking lots
of shopping centers.

Depot Recycling was initiated after a private study showed that a
recycling program could be cost-effective for the area. The
business plan proposed by META was approved by seven of the nine
members, primarily because of a favorable financial structure.
Since member communities were assessed costs on a per-capita
basis, smaller governments benefitted from economies of scale
previously  out of their reach. In addition, Depot Recycling
offered a less expensive recycling program than the larger
communities could have organized individually, since META was
able to obtain corporate donations, state grants, and other forms
of financial support.

Nonprofit Public Corporation

Regional Waste Systems—Portland, Maine

One of the keys to regionalization is finding a management
structure that facilitates cooperation while allowing members to
achieve their individual goals. For a collection of 21
communities in southern Maine, a nonprofit public corporation
turned out to be the best solution. Through Regional Waste
Systems (RWS), the communities planned and established a
waste-to-energy facility, new landfills, composting facilities,
and recycling programs.

While most of the communities in the region had been managing
their solid waste independently, increased demands for services
and improved (and more expensive) management methods were
straining local resources. As a result, a number of nearby
communities were interested in participating in an informal
regional council initiated previously by the city of Portland and
three neighboring communities. To accommodate the new members
(and the increased volume of waste) and develop needed solid
waste management projects, council managers decided that a
regional organization with the ability to secure funding through
bonds or loans was needed.

Many formal regional organizations did not offer member
municipalities the control that they required, however.
Historically independent, these New England communities were
reluctant to surrender authority over local issues to a special
district or other management body. One organizational option, the
nonprofit public corporation, offered a way to regionalize
certain aspects of member communities' solid waste management
responsibilities without significantly reducing control over
decisions that might affect their community. It was agreed that
the new organization would focus on solid waste treatment and
disposal; collection and billing would remain the responsibility
of individual communities.

Accordingly, 21 communities created and collectively purchased
Regional Waste Systems. As owners, member communities control the
corporation through guaranteed voting rights. RWS is managed by a
board of directors composed of elected representatives from
member communities. These towns are allotted seats according to
population. (Portland, for example, is allotted nine seats;

sparsely populated communities must share a single seat with two
or three other towns.) The membership agreement requires
communities to deliver their collected solid waste to RWS and to
pay the resulting tipping fees, assessed according to tonnage.

While the tipping fees cover most ongoing operating costs, the
corporation issues bonds to raise capital for RWS' waste
management facilities and investments in new equipment. As a
nonprofit corporation, setting priorities and raising funds is
often less politicized than the activities of a government
agency. Member communities' contribution to RWS' budget (the
tipping fee) is simple and directly proportional to the amount of
waste a community generates. Residents of these towns clearly can
see the connection between the cost and the service provided. In
turn, RWS is shielded from a line-by-line review of its budget by
voters. As a result, the board is able make capital investments,
raise funds, and even carry a deficit for a length of time,
depending on what board members feel is in the best long-term
interests of communities in the region.

This freedom enables RWS to concentrate on finding the most
appropriate solutions for managing the solid waste it receives
from member municipalities. These solutions include a 500-ton/day
waste-to-energy combustor and ashfill, new landfills, and a
composting facility for yard trimmings. In addition, over 90
recycling drop-off stations have been sited, resulting in the
diversion of approximately 7,000 tons of MSW from local
landfills. The corporation also is planning to construct and
operate a materials recovery facility and a construction waste
recycling site.

Nonprofit Public Corporation

Southwest Public Recycling Association-Arizona

The Southwest Public Recycling Association (SPRA) is another
example of a successful nonprofit public corporation addressing
solid waste issues. Formed in 1991, SPRA's mission is to
strengthen the Southwest's recycling markets. The region is
challenged  by low material generation rates because of sparse
population, relatively few accessible markets for collected
materials, and vast distances to those limited markets, all
factors contributing to high recycling costs.

In 1990, elected officials in Tucson, Arizona,  initiated
discussions on ways that local governments in the region could
work together on marketing recyclables. A voluntary task force
was formed to study the many issues involved. The task force
gathered necessary legal information from town, city, county, and
state attorneys. It also researched other cooperative marketing
efforts and  decided to use a successful New England program as
their model. Since an organization for cooperative,
multijurisdictional contracting and purchasing already existed,
government procurement officials familiar with contracting for
goods and services and with cooperative purchasing played a
pivotal role in creating the new organization.

SPRA was launched with support from its member jurisdictions and
with federal and private funding. Tucson's mayor provided staff
support for drafting incorporation papers  and bylaws and donated
office space. Participating cities and towns paid membership dues
set at 1A A per capita. EPA provided grant funding to cover SPRA's
first-year marketing and market development efforts. Other
sustaining funding comes from dues paid  by associate members from
the private  and nonprofit sectors. SPRA has succeeded in
attracting over 20 associate members including solid waste
service companies, manufacturers, environmental groups, school
districts, and materials processors. The organization represents
approximately 5  million people in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New
Mexico, and Utah.

SPRA has been instrumental in enhancing recycling collection and
marketing efforts in the area. Generally, in the Southwest,
larger cities contract with private vendors  for recycling
services, while the smaller, rural communities manage solid waste

directly. By working together under the auspices of SPRA,
however, small communities aggregate materials in marketable
quantities and enjoy cost efficiencies.

SPRA also is in the process of implementing a comprehensive
regional recycling economic development program. It developed
purchasing agreements with end-use markets for recyclables
collected in the region and negotiated contracts for steel,
glass, and corrugated cardboard. In developing these purchasing
agreements, SPRA compared the economic impact of working within
existing regional markets to markets outside the region. SPRA
members have the option of participating in the  marketing
agreements or going on their own, as their needs and
circumstances require.

As a regional solid waste organization, SPRA  is involved in a
variety of activities beyond cooperative marketing of
recyclables. It is working to site manufacturing industries that
use recovered materials in the region so that transportation
costs can be reduced and jobs can be created. For example, a
paperboard company based its decision to site a recycling mill in
New Mexico because SPRA was able to guarantee a reliable supply
of old corrugated containers.

SPRA also developed a model "buy recycled"  program to ensure the
purchase of products made from the region's recyclables. By
ordering recycled products in larger quantities, SPRA can offer
its members economies of scale that would not be available to
them individually.

This regional solid waste organization also provides technical
assistance and information to its member jurisdictions and saves
them research and consulting costs. For example, SPRA subscribes
to Recycline, the online national recycling database, and shares
that information with all members. Clearly, this regional
organization is addressing a broad spectrum of solid waste needs
for local and state governments in the Southwest.

Regional Council

Big Lakes Regional Council—Manhattan, Kansas

Pottowatami, Riley, Marshall, and Morris Counties in north
central Kansas recently decided to work together through their
regional council to cooperatively address solid waste management
issues. The Big Lakes Regional Council was established to improve
educational programs, emergency services, grant funding, and
other programs in the area,  gradually proving itself an
effective regional planning and administrative organization. So,
when member counties began facing increasingly difficult and
expensive solid waste management projects, they decided to use
Big Lakes to help meet these challenges.

Working through an established regional council offered the
counties many advantages. Big Lakes Regional Council is governed
by a board of directors composed of three elected officials from
each county. Over the course of their two-year appointed term,
the directors and their staff are  able to establish an effective
working relationship with state officials. These contacts help
the Council learn about and secure educational materials, grants,
and other important resources.  Grants, in particular, often are
critical to Big Lakes projects. While Big Lakes assesses fees on
member counties based on population (currently, 57A  A per person)
to raise revenues, additional financing often  is needed for

One of the first solid waste challenges the counties addressed
was the development of a household hazardous waste (HHW)
collection program,  estimated to cost from $40,000 to $50,000
annually per county. After one of the counties suggested that
regionalizing a HHW collection effort might make it more
feasible, Big Lakes conducted some initial research. It learned
that funding was available and, since the state was trying to
encourage regional strategies for MSW management, grants were
more likely to be provided for such regional projects. Big Lakes
also learned that a regional project would cost far less per
county than individual programs-estimating approximately $70,000
annually for the four-county region, or about $18,000 each.

Big Lakes presented the results of its research to the member
counties and several others nearby. Three member counties and one
nonmember agreed to join the collection program. To finance the

project, Big Lakes proposed and secured a grant for approximately
half of the needed funding; the other half came from Big Lakes'
budget. Big Lakes also was an important resource for education
and promotion. The Council distributed thousands of posters,
which it received from the state. It also distributed videotapes
for use in schools, developed press releases, held public forums
to introduce the program and answer questions, and discussed the
collections at other, general public meetings.

The participating counties also benefitted from having a single
organization coordinate the administration of the program. From
previous projects, Big Lakes learned to facilitate equipment
sharing, maintenance, scheduling, personnel training, payments
between counties, and other aspects of cooperative project
management that might otherwise create friction between members.
As a result, the counties were able to rely on Big Lakes'
experience and the relationships it had developed with the state
and regional governments. The end result was a cost-effective
method of planning, promoting, financing, implementing, and
managing an HHW collection program.


As the success stories show, regionalization is helping rural and
small communities tackle solid waste management projects they may
not be able to accomplish individually. With a range of
organizational options available, regionalization can be tailored
to fit the needs and resources of all kinds of communities.

Regionalization can work, for example, even when potential
members are unable or unwilling to make political or financial
obligations. North Carolina's  Land-of-Sky Regional Council is an
example of how local governments can structure an organization
that ties their communities together without specific, binding
commitments. Member communities, such as Land-of-Sky's Henderson
and Transylvania Counties, work together through
intergovernmental agreements to regionalize specific projects,
but can opt out of other projects at no cost when they feel the
effort is not in their individual interest.

For communities interested in regionalization but reluctant to
grant too much independence to a regional organization, there are
other options. In Maine, the nonprofit public corporation
Regional Waste Systems turned out to be the perfect vehicle: a
strong regional organization with the power to approve and
finance projects, yet owned and guided by the member communities.
In the Southwest, jurisdictions in five states successfully
marketed recyclables and attracted new recycling industries to
the region through the Southwest Public Recycling Association,
another nonprofit corporation.

Alternatively, if local decision-makers feel a strong regional
organization is needed to oversee their community's waste
management projects, they might set up an authority, public
trust, or similar organization. The members of the Metropolitan
Environmental Trust Authority (META) in Oklahoma chose this type
of organization because they could empower it to plan, finance,
and implement critical waste  management projects without
political and budgetary constraints.

These local governments all have found ways to design a regional
program that works. Regionalization might work in your community,
too. In addition to suggestions on how to develop regional solid
waste management programs found here, the following guide lists a
selection of some of the extensive publications and other

resources available for small and rural communities on solid
waste management and regional programs. These resources and a
little creativity can help you and your neighboring communities
use regionalization to meet your toughest solid waste management


A number of organizations, including EPA, other federal agencies,
and nonprofit groups, have developed resources to assist
communities in planning and implementing MSW regionalization
projects. The following is a selected, annotated bibliography.
When ordering a publication, reference the document number
provided after the title.
Publications Available from EPA

The following publications may be ordered from the RCRA Hotline
at 800 424-9346 or TDD 800 553-7572 for the hearing impaired.

* Criteria for Solid Waste Disposal Facilities, March 1993,
Provides owners and operators of landfills with basic information
on the Subtitle D regulations, including issues of location,
operation, design, ground-water monitoring, corrective action,
closure, and financial assurance.

* Decision-Makers Guide to Solid Waste Management,  November 1989,
Provides a hands-on guide to integrated solid waste management.
Describes a range of waste management solutions and alternatives
and helps state and local officials choose appropriate options.

* Household Hazardous Waste Management, A Manual for One-Day
Community Collection Programs, August 1993, EPA/530-F-92-031.
Provides community leaders with guidance on all aspects of
planning, organizing, and publicizing an HHW collection program.

* Native American Network
Facilitates the exchange of experiences and ideas about solid
waste issues among tribes, and forges working relationships among
tribal governments, EPA, other federal agencies, and state and
local governments. To order, request a subscription to Native
American Network.

* Pay As You Throw: Lessons Learned About Unit Pricing, April
1994, EPA/530-R-94-004.
Explains in step-by-step detail how communities can launch a unit
pricing program (a program where  residents pay for solid waste

services based on the amount of waste they generate). Also helps
communities decide if unit pricing will work for them.

* Recycling Works! State and Local Solutions to Solid Waste
Management Problems, January 1989, EPA/530-SW-89-014.
Describes successful state and municipal recycling programs and
provides a complete listing of addresses and phone numbers for
state-level recycling offices.

* Reusable News
Reports, on a quarterly basis, on EPA's and others' efforts to
safely and effectively manage municipal solid waste. Articles
describe current and innovative efforts in the public and private
sectors. Keeps readers up-to-date on solid waste rulemaking and
new EPA publications. To order, request a subscription to
Reusable News.

* Safer Disposal for Solid Waste: The Federal Regulations for
Landfills, March 1993, EPA/530-SW-91-092.
Summarizes the federal regulations covering landfill location,
operation, design, ground-water monitoring and corrective action,
closure and post-closure care, and financial assurance. Gives
local officials and others dates for compliance and additional
sources of information.

* Sites for Our Solid Waste:  A Guidebook for Effective Public
Involvement, April 1990, EPA/530-SW-90-019.
Helps public officials, citizens, and industry professionals
effectively involve  the community in finding waste sites and
constructing solid waste management facilities.

* Used Dry Cell Batteries: Is a Collection Program Right for Your
Community?, December 1992, EPA/530-K-92-006.
Helps communities determine whether establishing a program to
collect used dry cell batteries is right for them. Reviews the
key issues related to setting up and running a collection

* Variable Rates in  Solid Waste:  A Handbook for Solid Waste
Officials; Volume I: Executive Summary, June 1990,
Points  out potential costs and benefits of using variable rates
to pay  for solid waste services. Assists officials in analyzing
options available in their jurisdictions; also alerts officials

to potential conflicts and solutions.

* Variable Rates in Solid Waste: A Handbook for Solid Waste
Officials; Volume II: Detailed Manual, June 1990, PB90-272 063.
Supplements Volume I (described above) by providing more
technical data on variable rate systems. Includes six detailed
charts to assist officials in analyzing solid waste fee systems.

EPA's Public Information Center (PIC) provides information and
refers public inquiries to other appropriate sources of
information within EPA. To order the following documents, call
PIC at 202 260-7751.

* Narrowing the Gap:  Environmental Finance for the 1990s, 1992.
Describes important macro-level finance issues for the 1990s and
lays out 14 key findings and recommendations, such as broadening
the use of economic incentives and market alternatives to prevent
pollution, improving coordination among federal small community
financial assistance programs, and increasing the use of bond
banks to improve access to the bond market by small communities.

* Paying for Progress:  Perspectives on Financing Environmental
Protection, 1990.
Reviews the issues associated with financing environmental
programs by presenting views from the private and public sectors.
Discusses the roles of federal, state, and local governments;
presents creative approaches to environmental funding; explains
potential barriers to financing; and introduces various incentive

* Public-Private Partnerships for Environmental Facilities:  A
Self-Help Guide, 1990.
Outlines the issues and decisions local officials face in
developing public-private partnerships. Includes an action
checklist of the major steps required to initiate a
public-private venture.

* Solid Waste Contract Negotiation Handbook, 1992.
Provides sample provisions of solid waste contracts and
agreements, as well as guidelines for developing such agreements
and contracts.

* Solid Waste Contracting: Questions and Answers, 1992.
Complements the Solid Waste Contract Negotiation Handbook

described above by providing a general introduction to solid
waste contracting.

The following publications are available from various other EPA
offices. Ordering information is included in the descriptions

* Analysis of the Policy Implications of Regional Municipal Solid
Waste Disposal, U.S. EPA Region 10, 1990.
Discusses the costs and benefits associated with regionalization
of municipal solid waste disposal, as well as the policy issues
raised by importing and exporting solid waste. Focuses on
regional solid waste management in the Pacific Northwest. To
order, call EPA's Region 10 Public Information Center at 206

* Building Support for Increasing User Fees, U.S. EPA Office of
Water, 1989.
Provides an example of the public education efforts needed to
build support for user fee increases. Although this document
discusses water and wastewater fees, the information can be
applied to solid waste services as well. To order, call the Water
Resources Center at 202 260-7786.

* Economic Incentives:  Options for Environmental Protection,
U.S. EPA Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, 1991.
Evaluates a variety of market-based incentives, such as creation
of markets, monetary incentives, deposit/refund systems,
information disclosure, and procurement policies. Municipal solid
waste incentives discussed include variable rate programs, scrap
tire recycling incentives, deposit/refund systems for lead-acid
batteries, and credit systems or deposit/refund systems for used
oil. To order, call EPA's Office of Policy, Planning, and
Evaluation at 202 260-7786.

* HELP! EPA Resources for Small Governments, U.S. EPA Office of
Regional Operations, 1993.
Introduces EPA programs that affect small communities and
provides a comprehensive list of contacts. Targeted to local
officials in small communities, HELP! is available free of charge
by calling EPA's Office of Regional  Operations at 202 260-4719.

EPA Resource Centers

The following clearinghouses, dockets, and hotlines stock
up-to-date information pertaining to municipal solid waste
management. These resource centers can also refer communities to
appropriate resource persons or documents for technical

* Public Information Center (PIC)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Public Information Center
(3404) 401 M Street, SW. Washington, DC 20460 phone: 202
260-7751 fax: 202 260-6257

Serves as the primary point of contact between EPA and the
public. Refers calls and letters to the appropriate sources for
technical information, and distributes a variety of
general-interest items.

* RCRA Docket Information Center (RIC)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RCRA Docket Information
Center (5305) 401 M Street, SW. Washington, DC 20460 phone: 202
260-9327 fax: 202 260-9327

Holds and provides public access to all regulatory materials on
solid waste and distributes technical and nontechnical
information on solid waste.

* RCRA/Superfund/OUST Hotline
RCRA/SF/OUST Hotline 1725 Jefferson Davis Highway Arlington,
22202 phone: 800 424-9346 fax: 703 486-3333

Answers  questions on matters related to solid waste, hazardous
waste, or underground storage tanks. Also can be used to find and
order EPA publications.

* Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC)
PPIC Science Applications International Corporation 7600A
Leesburg Pike Falls Church, VA 22043 phone: 703 821-4800 PIES
system: 703 506-1025 fax: 703  821-4775

Provides  a library and an electronic bulletin board (accessible
by any PC equipped with a modem) dedicated to information on
pollution prevention.

* Environmental Financing Information Network (EFIN)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EFIN (3304)401 M Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20460 phone: 202 260-0420 fax: 202 260-0710

Provides an online computer database containing abstracts of
publications and a network of public financing and environmental
program experts. Help using the database is available.

* Small Business Ombudsman Clearinghouse/Hotline
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Small Business Ombudsman
(1230C)  401 M Street, SW. Washington, DC  20460 phone: 800
368-5888 fax: 703 305-6462

Helps private citizens, small businesses, and smaller communities
with questions on all program aspects within EPA.

* Solid Waste  Assistance Program (SWAP)
SWAN A Solid Waste Assistance Program Post Office Box 7219 Silver
Spring, MD 20907 phone: 800 677-9424

Collects and distributes current municipal solid waste

* EPA Main Library
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Library 401 M
Street, SW. Room 2904 Washington, DC 20460 phone: 202 260-5921
or 5922 fax: 202  260-6257

Maintains environmental reference materials for EPA staff and
the general public, including books, journals, abstracts,
newsletters, newspapers, and audio-visual materials generated by
government agencies and the private sector. Also provides access
to online computer services, bulletin boards, and CD-ROM systems.
EPA Regional Offices

EPA's ten regional offices work closely with state and local
governments, as well as with EPA headquarters. Call or write the
regional office serving your state for more information on solid
waste management in your region.

* Region  1 [Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, Vermont]

JFK Building One Congress Street Boston, MA 02203 Library: 617
Waste Management Division Mail Code: HER-CAN6   617 573-5700

* Region 2 [New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands]
Javitz Building 26 Federal Plaza New York, NY 10278 Library: 212
Hazardous Waste and Solid Waste Programs Branch Mail Code:  2AWM
 212 264-3384

* Region 3 [Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia]
841 Chestnut Building Philadelphia, PA 19107 Library: 215
Hazardous Waste Management Division Mail Code: 3HW53   215

* Region 4 [Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee]
345 Courtland Street, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30365 Library: 404
Waste Management Division Mail Code: 4WD-RCRA   404 347-3454

* Region 5 [Illinois,  Indiana, Michigan,  Minnesota, Ohio,
77 West Jackson Blvd.Chicago, IL 60604-3507 Library: 312
Waste Management Division Mail Code: HRP-8J   312886-7579

* Region 6 [Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas]
First Interstate Bank Tower 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200 Dallas,
TX 75202-2733 Library: 214 655-6427
Hazardous Waste Management Division Mail Code: 6HHW   214

* Region 7 [Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska]
726 Minnesota Avenue Kansas City, KS 66101  Library: 913 551-7358
Waste Management Division Mail Code: STPG  913557-7050

* Region 8 [Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah,
999 18th Street, Suite 500 Denver, CO 80202-2405 Library: 303
Hazardous Waste Management Division Mail Code: 8HWM-WM  303


* Region 9 [Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa,
75 Hawthorne Street San Francisco, CA 94105 Library: 415
Hazardous Waste Management Division Mail Code: H-3-1   415

* Region 10 [Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington]
1200 Sixth Avenue Seattle, WA 98101 Library: 206 553-1289
Hazardous Waste Division Mail Code: HW107   206 553-1261
Additional Federal Resources

The following federal agencies also can provide technical and/or
financial assistance for regional solid waste management

* Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Washington, DC  20235  202

* U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
451 Seventh Street, SW. Washington, DC 20410  202 708-1112

* Indian Health Services (IHS)
5600 Fishers Lane Rockville, MD  20857   301 443-3593

* U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
1849 C Street, NW. Washington, DC 20240   202 208-3710

* Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
400 West Summit Hill Drive Knoxville, TN  37902  615 632-2101

* U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Administration
South Agriculture Building 14th & Independence Ave, SW.
Washington, DC  20250   202720-9583