Focus on New Laws: Organized Solid Waste Collection

A compromise was developed to address garbage hauler concerns with the process cities use to switch to an organized residential solid waste collection system.
(Published Oct 8, 2018)

A new law, Chapter 177, makes several changes to the organized solid waste provisions in Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94. After interim discussions with the solid waste haulers on a wide range of issues, a list of changes were agreed upon that preserve city authority to consider changing their solid waste collection while specifically fixing a few items of concern to haulers.

The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and applies to contracts entered into on or after that date. Sections 2-6 apply only to new consideration of organized collection by a city that does not currently use such a system for residential solid waste.

Section 7 applies to all organized collection agreements entered into on or after that date, including new contracts in cities with existing organized collection systems. Sections 1 and 8 simply update cross references.

Changes for cities considering a change

The following changes apply whenever a city initially chooses to consider switching to an organized residential solid waste collection system (the location of the change in the legislation and in statute are noted):

  • The required committee that a city must form to evaluate options prior to implementing an ordinance is now referred to as a “solid waste collection options committee,” instead of an “organized collection options committee.” Section 2 of the legislation; Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4a.
  • That committee must now include keeping the existing collection system as one of the options it evaluates. Section 3 of the legislation; Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4b(1).
  • The list of criteria the committee may choose to select to evaluate solid waste collection options now includes “impacts on residential subscribers’ ability to choose a provider of solid waste service based on the desired level of service, costs, and other factors; the impact of miles driven on city streets and alleys; and the incremental impact of miles driven by collection vehicles.” Section 3 of the legislation; Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4b(2).
  • The statute was clarified to reflect that the initial negotiations between existing haulers and the city that are required before a solid waste collection options committee is formed must be for “at least 60 days,” rather than for a “60-day period.” Section 5 of the legislation; Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4d.
  • The initial contract for a city initially establishing an organized collection system must be for seven years, instead of being able to range between three and seven years. This was requested so that an initial contract matches the typical duration of capital loans used to add collection capacity for a hauler. Section 5 of the legislation; Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4d.
  • Before starting the negotiations required by Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4d, existing haulers who choose to participate must now be able to “meet and confer” with elected officials from the city regarding solid waste collection issues, including but not limited to “road deterioration, public safety, pricing mechanisms, and contractual considerations unique to organized collection.” The idea of a council work session was specifically discussed as a good solution that allows the requirement to be met while meeting Open Meeting Law requirements, but wording was left less specific to allow a city other possible solutions. Section 6 of the legislation; creates new Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4e.

Change for all cities with organized collection

Additionally, one change was made that applies to all cities that contract for organized solid waste collection. It clarifies that licensed haulers cannot be obligated in an organized collection agreement to cover damages to a third party caused solely by another licensed hauler.

The language does allow joint obligations for issues like service delivery and other provisions that are jointly required of all participating licensed haulers. This is found in Section 7 of the legislation. It creates a new subdivision in the statute: Minnesota Statutes, section 115A.94, subdivision 4f.

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