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Seattle Solid Waste Utility’s Client Service Improvement Case Study

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Introduction

The budget of Seattle Solid Waste Utility encompasses finances to work on a Recycling and Disposal Station (RDS) at the south and renovation of the station at the north of Seattle. Having been constructed in 1960s, the initial stations have encountered a long period of heavy industrial use that has brought about substantial wearing out of buildings as well as renovation of systems in progress. The present old stations are not set for probable earthquakes in the future. Moreover, the present stations are congested with regard to the existing number of residents of Seattle. The present stations have as well a limited room for recycling. The new station at the north of Seattle is anticipated to start its functions in 2015. On the other hand, the new station at the south of Seattle requires increased functioning costs and it is expected to start its operations earlier this year. The city of Seattle as well requires finances to aid its garbage collection, disposal, and recycling operations. Some of the achievements of solid waste utility are brought about by its arrangements for garbage collection from residents, its disposal, and recycling. Constant strategy innovation is necessary in a bid to attain the recycling aims of the city (DiPeso, 2012, pp. 91-93). Nevertheless, a great proportion of the garbage in the city is composed of recyclable materials like refuse and paper, and thus the city requires setting up arrangements to reduce the garbage generated.

Materials that do not go into the sewerage arrangement are denoted as solid waste and could be arranged into a number of categories founded on the materials contained and their management and regulation. One of the categories is the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) that comprises of all the garbage and recyclables that inhabitants and businesses generate and that are taken for recycling and disposal at the concerned stations. MSW contains materials that require handling with caution, for instance, old refrigerators and used computers. Another category is Construction and Demolition Debris (C&D) and includes things like concrete, rocks, and wood. The third category is Moderate Risk wastes (MRW) and includes poisonous chemicals, oil, and paint just to mention a few. The Seattle and King Counties’ branch of Public Health deals with biomedical waste (Fickes, 2013, pp. 30-31). The Seattle Solid Waste Utility encounters various problems like landfill closure, increased garbage, high rates to clients, and lack of proper technology. This paper discusses problems in the Seattle Solid Waste Utility as well as solutions that could take it to a global reputation as a leader in the garbage disposal and recycling.

Problem statement

Like John Anthony, Diana Gale takes up the leadership of a city utility that is in crisis and in the middle of an unstable era during which landfills are closed, grievances are shocking, there is poor technology, and an innovative solid waste strategy is required. She has to steer the city utility in the politically chaotic function of establishing an innovative and lasting garbage disposal strategy for the Seattle city. The waste collection and disposal that was earlier taken for granted turns out to be a hot subject owing to poor technology, increasing rates to clients, as well as ecological problems at a landfill. Prior to establishing possible strategies to address problems in the Seattle utility, Gale has to comprehend the politics of Seattle, difficulties with employees, and an old-fashioned and unproductive organizational structure. Therefore, this case necessitates the search for perfect ways to address the problems in the Seattle utility as well as a discussion of strategy development coupled with evaluation of their effectiveness. Moreover, the case requires initiation of the best way to balance conflicting pressures whilst restoring the reliability of an organization to representatives and discouraged personnel. This aspect will call for turning of problems into opportunities for strategy redirection and structural modification in the Seattle utility.

Objectives

  1. To understand the problems of increased costs on customers and its possible solution
  2. To explain the crisis concerning increase garbage levels and possible alternatives to ensure garbage management
  3. To find a resolution to poor technology at Seattle Solid Waste Utility and its effectiveness
  4. To find long-term disposal alternatives for the utility

Background

Approximately half of the total garbage collected comes from businesses while residents generate about a third, and self-haulers generate the rest. The aforementioned fractions have slightly varied since 1988. However, as the population of residents keeps on rising, there are expectations that garbage generated by residents will increase considerably. Out of the total garbage generated, only 44 percent gets recycled. Taking the residential garbage alone, about half of it is recycled. For the self-haulers, merely 18 percent is recycled due to shortage of recycling opportunities at the respective stations. Moreover, the attempt it takes to set apart garbage for recycling with no monetary benefits makes recycling a hard task (Gorrie, 2012, p. 25).

The constituent of waste that is disposed in landfills varies noticeably in 1988 when the extensive city curbside recycling in addition to yard waste gathering began their operations. Despites this move aimed at reducing recyclables in garbage, a lot of recyclable waste was sill present in the garbage. The recyclable waste found included such things as papers. A good proportion of the garbage as well consisted of C & D debris. The income for the utility is obtained from high charges based on quantity of waste collected from clients. The utility encounters financial stress, which is in turn directed to high charges for the clients. Many grievances are aired by the customers and due to faulty systems and poor technology, the Solid Waste Utility is incapable of handling the complaints from the clients satisfactorily (Templeton, 2012). At the period that John Anthony took up directorship of the Customer Services at the utility, the condition was at its maximum worst. Customers could persistently complain concerning the rate increases from 1986. To make it worse, the rates were anticipated to rise even higher. The rise in the rates had been due to financial constraints in the utility, cunningly shifting the burden to the clients.

The problems existing in the Seattle utility commenced in 1983 with the closure of a landfill. The closure was due to seepage of methane gas that resulted in environmental risks (Tucker, & Goldstein, 2012, pp. 25-26). When the residents lacked an alternative for waste disposal, they resulted to making use of a landfill existing at the King County. Due to the need to expand the landfill at the King County, the costs imposed on the clients rose thus making it higher by over 40 percent. The residents were furious of the move and thus they flocked in the offices to the utility in search of a solution to the imposed high costs. With low technology, inaccessible information, and faulty systems of the utility, the customers ended up suffering. On the same note, the employees were distressed and discouraged.

Identification of issues

Garbage

The director of Seattle Solid Waste Utility (SWU), Diana Gale, glowered at a newspaper on her table whose headline affirmed “The Refuse Mess,” and the subtitle stated that the urban centre with the utmost charges in the country is attaching much expectation on incineration. The paper continued to condemn the Seattle Waste Utility attempts to recycle and proclaim that ecological and health concerns regarding an intended garbage incinerator were understated by the utility as well as by local government officials. Gale had been employed one and a half years earlier as the head of the utility through a hectic phase marked by unsteady strategies and an unstable political background (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 23-24). Diana Gale almost convened a staff meeting in a bid to discuss the suggested incinerator and choose any of the following disposal alternatives the utility would advise to the mayor on:

  • Keep on utilizing the landfill situated a short distance from Seattle
  • Construction of a garbage incinerator
  • Dispose the garbage in a landfill located east of Oregon

Seattle Waste Utility had chosen landfill as well as incinerator alternatives up to a month earlier when they found out that the Oregon landfill was in search of clients. In the period between 1986 and 1988, Seattle Waste Utility had supported the option of incinerator, highly encouraged by the city council as well as by the mayor. However, they have of late received claims from environmentalists that the incinerator would discharge poisonous levels of nitrogen oxide. This move made the public opinion to rise against the incinerator alternative as it was also criticized in the newspaper as well as other forms of media (Tsai et al., 2004, pp. 207-209). In this regard, Seattle Waste Utility, particularly Gale, was stressed to recommend a long-lasting disposal alternative that could be backed by the public as well as by the government officials that were strongly against the use of incinerator. The utility was left between proposing the landfill in Oregon, thus ignoring the will of the city council and the mayor, and supporting the construction of incinerator with an expectation that the public view would change in support of that alternative.

For a long, collection of garbage as well as its disposal in Seattle, as the case in many cities today was a quiet service. People dumped out all their waste and it was collected for disposal. Initially, Seattle Waste Utility made use of numerous small landfills situated near the city for disposal of waste but most of them were later closed. The landfills that remained operational were just two large ones. For this entire time, garbage was not a matter of great concern to the residents (Mannina, & Viviani, 2009, p. 555). Later, Seattle Waste Utility put measures in place in a bid to decrease the volume of garbage and give the remaining landfills a longer time for existence. This aspect was the start of the problems at SWU. At one point, the utility executed a varying garbage charge with the aim of reducing disposed waste as the cost charged was in correspondence to the volume of waste. Nevertheless, instead of this turning out to be a solution, it increased the problems, as this was many complaints concerning the prices charged and at the same time, there was an ever-rising volume of garbage.

Rates distress

During the time that John Anthony was employed as the director of Customer Services at SWU, the situation was at its peak worst. Irritated clients would constantly make phone calls to complain concerning the 65 percent garbage charge hikes since1986. Additionally, the rates were planed to rise by another 15 percent in a period of about two months. The rate hikes of 1986 had turned out to be a good example on how not to apply a rate modification (Dana, 2004, p. 343). The city council had chosen to increase the rates of disposing garbage with the clients receiving no prior caution of the rates augment. Additionally, the customers were cunningly given the chance to change their service level that established the cost they were to pay. Earlier, each client that paid 11.85 dollars every month for two cans was permitted to dispose two extra bags of garbage. As from late 1981, every client that wanted to dispose two cans (with two extra bags on top) had to pay 21.75 dollars, a cost that was earlier meant for four cans each month. The carrier opportunity had been eliminated, which underscored the fact that the levy on garbage had almost hit two times.

All through 1986, there were many complaints from customers. Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) who work at the Phone and Billing Unit had a hectic time due to endless phone calls, visits in the office as well as letters from angry clients. The clients wanted to decrease their service charge from the 21.75 dollars for four cans to 15.15 dollars. Liz Kain, a representative at the Customer Service Representative said that the adjustments on the rates normally made six Customer Service Representatives operate in three groups of two people. Every group was accountable for responding to phone calls from clients (DiPeso, 2012, pp. 94-96). One of the groups received two of the most used telephone lines, the second group completed billings, and the third filled forms for service change. Rotation was done amid the groups to ensure fairness. Nevertheless, it reached a point that the phone calls became too much that paper work was not given much attention, which made the paper work lag behind.

Customer Service Representatives were particularly frustrated since they had cautioned the managers that the office could be devastated by grievances and demands to alter service levels in case the clients did not obtain early notice of increases in the charges. As Liz made it clear, they were aware that many individuals would complain although they never had thought of it going to such extent. Ultimately, a conference hall at SWU was set aside for keeping about 80,000 correspondences sent by the customers. It was not possible to process very many demands in a timely manner. In this regard, clients sent letters more than once, and made phone calls persistently. Moreover, other clients made phone calls to the office of the mayor. More workers were hired on an interim basis to assist in the handling of the service change demands (DiPeso, 2012, pp. 97-98). During the arrival of Anthony in 1987, the Customer Service Representatives were dog-tired from periods of antagonistic correspondences and phone calls from angry customers. Like the team spirit of the employees, public assurance was at a record low.

Landfill calamity

Problems at Seattle Solid Waste Utility started in 1983 when Midway landfill was closed due to presenting potentially severe environmental danger. Although Midway suffered the closure, preliminary examination point out that there was already seepage of methane gas from the Midway landfill onto nearby possessions. There were volatile degrees of methane gas in the basements of the neighboring properties. Seattle Waste Utility landfill crisis instantly took on new levels, and reliability of the utility endured as media seized the haunting picture of families escaping from their residences. The seepage of methane gas at Midway confirmed to be widespread and no one desired to reside close to a landfill seeping out potentially dangerous substances (Fickes, 2013, p. 32). The Midway condition troubled inhabitants living close to another landfill at Kent. Upset regarding health risks and decreasing values of possessions, Kent dwellers faced their mayor as well as city council about the issue. By 1986, the representatives of Kent city reacted by ordering that Seattle Waste Utility shut down its only functioning Kent landfill.

When they were left with no alternative to deposit their waste materials, the people resorted to the King County that as well had a functioning landfill (Fickes, 2013, p. 32). There was available room for expansion in King County, but required very expensive fees, partially since Seattle Solid Waste Utility had disengaged itself from landfill agreement talks with the county earlier, at an excessive cost to the county. In case the city decides to make use of the county landfill, it could undergo a cost of 3 million dollars. In this regard, the dumping fee could rise from 11 dollars for every ton, to 31.50 dollars per ton.

In case Seattle settled for a lasting deal with the county landfill, it could contribute to the unavoidable closure charges. The city desired avoiding a long-standing, open-ended monetary dedication to King County. However, there were no short-range alternatives since Seattle Solid Waste Utility constantly received loads of garbage for disposal. The King County owned a landfill and allowed Seattle city just two years to make a decision regarding a lasting contract or seek for an optional disposal way. Moreover, the county enforced a firm timeline on advancement of a lasting resolution for disposal of garbage.

Seattle Solid Waste Utility had 1987 as well as 1988 to consider disposal ways and inform the mayor about its proposal. Meanwhile, “Solid Waste Utility increased garbage charges by more than 40% to handle the raised cost of making use of the landfill owned by the King County and the expected shut down charges for both Kent and Midway landfills” (Gorrie, 2012, p. 25). Inhabitants were distressed concerning their increasing garbage charges, and they flooded the Customer Service Department of Seattle Solid Waste Utility with grievances. The landfill problem and rate hikes had altered the opinion of everybody concerning garbage disposal and it was no more an undervalued necessary service. The collection and disposal of garbage had turned out to be a costly service that as well connected inhabitants with health and ecological hazards.

Faulty Systems

The two major groups in the Solid Waste Utility accountable for dealing with the volume of client questions and grievances are the Field Inspectors and the CSRs. The Customer Service Representatives responded to inquiries from clients concerning their disposal service and charges, handled service ranks or bill alterations, filed grievances from customers when refuse collectors failed to turn up, and forwarded the grievances to the field inspectors or waste contractors. In spite of the call volumes, there were numerous crises in Customer Services. To start with, there was not a single operating system written and Customer Service Representatives were not adequately trained. In this regard, clients were treated variably and the excellence of information that clients obtained was not consistently high. The inadequacy of proper training was mainly bothersome since when additional workers were hired on an interim basis, they obtained inconsistent instructions concerning a range of operations. A different vital crisis was that Customer Service Representatives had no full access and could not modify information on accounts of clients. While explaining this condition, Liz Kain was not doubtful to equate it with living in the Stone Age period.

All information was on paper as most of the operations involved paper work. However, the Water Department, which was in charge of billing services, had computerized systems where customers’ information could be stored. Therefore, when a client wrote demanding to alter details on their account, the Customer Service Representative had to complete a form that was forwarded to the garbage collectors. Additionally, the CSR sent another form to the Water Department. The Water Department could then make the required changes from their computers. Making a follow up on the grievances of clients concerning waste collection was the duty of Field Inspectors. SWU made contracts with private refuse collection companies to collect garbage from the residential places. Conventionally, the mandate of solving service conflicts between private contractors and clients was in the hands of field inspectors.

At the arrival of Anthony, there existed a lot of latent hostility between the Customer Service Representatives that were generally female and the field inspectors that were mainly male (Gorrie, 2012, p. 25). The Customer Service Representatives argued that field inspectors were negligent in their duty of making follow-ups on grievances of clients and obtained a better remuneration for “easier task”. In contrast, field inspectors considered that Customer Service Representatives carried out a shoddy job of forwarding messages to them, since they were at times provided with a similar grievance repeatedly, even subsequent to resolution of the problem. Anthony was quick to find out that clients aired their grievances to different offices and thus creating the difficulty.

Unluckily, the system could collapse as the same grievance was being reported from numerous destinations for some days. The waste contractors as well received matching grievances, and their position was that the CSR did not carry out their duty competently as they persistently sent them fake complaints. At the end of it all, it turned out difficult to assist any client with this kind of system. The poor telephone network in position at the Seattle Utility then worsened the misconceptions that arose amidst garbage contactors, CSR, and Field Inspectors. There existed no other means of keeping documentation of the calls made except on paper. Furthermore, Seattle Utility had no system to assist in screening phone calls made more than once. The outcome was that a number of grievances were not dealt with in any way. Several calls took very long to get to the Customer Service department, and a number of complaints were handled more than once. This disorder simply worked to discourage the field inspectors, the clients, the Customer Service Representatives, and the garbage contractors.

Ghost Filing

The Customer Service Representatives labored to give clients prompt service; however, handling every grievance required approximately twenty minutes as the service officials did not have simple access to the knowledge they required to respond the inquiries from clients. In case the complaints from a client could not be handled instantly, Customer Service Representatives had to complete forms that were forwarded to the water department, field inspectors, and the contractors. Clients frequently had to make calls for numerous days prior to receiving responses from the Customer Service Representatives. The prolonged delays are what annoyed clients and consequently made it hard for Customer Service Representatives to carry out their duties competently (Tucker, & Goldstein, 2012, pp. 28-29). Additionally, it is clear that most of these delays happened due to the filing system that was used by Customer Service Representatives. When clients made calls to air their grievances concerning disposal services for the first time, “a Customer Service Representative just noted it in a grievance form that was sent to a different service official who directly made the garbage contractors aware of the received complaints” (Templeton, 2012, p.775).

Regrettably, the grievances were not addressed immediately, but the forms would be stacked for later filing. In case a client called concerning a persistent crisis, the Customer Service Representative noted it in a Garbage Complaint Form. The following day, “a field inspector could take the form and look into the grievances before handing over the form to CSR for filing and like the inspection form, the complaint form was finally filed in cardboard boxes according to their addresses” (Templeton, 2012, p.778). In case a client came back with a similar grievance, the Customer Service Representative first searched to verify that the same complaint had not been reported to garbage contractors by a CSR and that a field inspector had not handled the problem. If not impossible, it was frequently hard to trace the form as Customer Service Representatives were at all times behind, when it comes to filing. Additionally, grievances were usually misplaced and at times wrongly filed. As a result, clients would persistently call over the same issue only to become further irritated. According to Liz Kain, the system was primitive. The forms were lost prior to getting to the concerned party for the issues to be addressed.

Low or no technology at all

It was very difficult for Customer Service Representatives to respond to inquiries concerning garbage bills, as information pertaining bills was stored in three different Microfiche films. One of these films updated after each two months, was arranged by address, and it carried information on the latest billing time. The second film updated everyday and was arranged according to account numbers of the clients, and carried information concerning alterations made by clients, for instance, volume of a can. Normally, the clients could not remember their account numbers when they called and thus the Customer Service Representative could have to check them from the first film before proceeding to the second film for alteration information. The third film updated every day and arranged according to the address, indicated any alterations done to the certified account records, for instance, alterations of the customer’s name. Due to the clumsy film system, phone calls made by the client took a very long time to process (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 25-26).

The most helpful information could be obtained from the first film; however, Customer Service Representatives had no full access to the account information of clients since the Water Department had command over the billing records of refuse and water. The Water Department had full ability to alter the records of the clients. In cases where essential information was not on the films, Customer Service Representatives were forced to write down inquiries from the clients, make calls to the Water Department, and finally make calls to the concerned clients. Following the rise in the rates, the Water Department allowed the Seattle Solid waste Utility to have an access to six computerized terminals that demonstrated all the latest alterations as well as the latest condition of every account. Nevertheless, the Customer Service Representatives had no authority to input data. Changes of the account records still had to be sent to the Water Department after filling the required forms. All these barriers amazed Anthony that any grievance from clients was ever thoroughly handled.

Lasting disposal alternative

Since lasting disposal crises turned out to be more expensive and intricate, it turned out noticeable that general garbage reduction required being a fundamental constituent of the lasting garbage management strategy of the Utility. It was the greatest desire of the mayor to illustrate his dedication to recycling in a bid to attain noteworthy garbage reduction (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 27-28). The mayor requested the former director of the Utility to establish and execute a perfect scheme all through the city. Definitely, the city required a great achievement to be able to attain full garbage management, and the anticipation of the mayor was the popularization of recycling. He desired the recycling plan to be cost-efficient client propelled, and suitable, so that individuals could make use of it. In late 1987, Seattle Solid Waste Utility made advertisements to prospective recycling contractors. Before the end of 1987, Seattle Solid Waste Utility had settled on the contractors and made the deal.

The Utility provided recycling services to the dwellers of the city as from early 1988, and the city council was delighted that Seattle Solid Waste Utility had kicked off the recycling plan in a short time (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 29-30). The step that was to follow was to observe whether the recycling could attain a lasting garbage management scheme by the city. In late 1988, the city council demanded that the Solid Waste Utility establish the highest possible recycling level. After six months of carrying out an assessment, “the Utility proposed to the council a lasting recycling aim of 60 percent by 1998 that the city was to create…the proposed temporary goals were 40 percent by 1991 as well as 50 percent by 1993” (Templeton, 2012, p.601). These recommendations received the support of the mayor who believed that they were an excellent initial step in the course of decreasing the quantity of waste as well as a significant aim of the lasting disposal strategy by the city. The most cost-efficient manner of decreasing the garbage level of the city and lessen disposal charges in the future is recycling.

Solutions and evaluation

Garbage

To curb the problem of the garbage increase, execution of a viable weight-based waste rate plan could comprise the billing of client for the real waste embarked for gathering on a weight foundation. This gathering-billing system could be executed with the intention of altering client conduct in escalating their garbage reduction in addition to recycling actions to save money. Study carried out for this alternative investigation did not recognize any commercial heaviness based waste rate plans, but it yielded residential plans. The standards and constituents needed to execute a weight-based plan are identical with that of a residential plan as it could be for a commercial plan. A pilot plan could be carried out to examine the weight-based waste billing for chosen residential gathering routes in Seattle (the city). A plan could be devised in a bid to recognize technological, effort, time, legal, and charge obstacles to a weight-based scheme (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 31-33). The plan could be deemed a success, if it met the goals that follow:

  • If the project demonstrated general viability and guarantee, and established that the barriers were few
  • If different cities get concerned in the program
  • Truck, level, and recognition manufacturers developed concern in the program and in establishing suitable expertise
  • Clients did not respond unconstructively to the idea

The Solid Waste Utility could choose routes in their usual gathering routes and inform clients of their participation in the pilot plan. Residential clients would consequently obtain mock garbage disposal bills after a fortnight. The mock bills would offer clients the knowledge regarding the quantity of garbage in their cans for the past two weeks. Additionally, an equivalence could be given showing the total charge for their can waste contribution service level. A comparison of the total that they could have contributed if the weight-based charges from the plan been effective would also be vital. Waste gathered from the chosen directions could be weighed through a static weighing method, at first, and afterwards a dynamic method near the closing stages of the program (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 34-35).

The client could be recognized with bar systems on their garbage cans and information concerning weight could be keyed into the database with the use of a bar system scanner. It is worth noting that the static weighing method could make the garbage gathering slow by around 10 %. On the other hand, the gathering progression could proceed at a quicker pace with the dynamic system. Clients could cater for a weekly fixed client charge as well as a cheaper rate for every pound of garbage. Organizing the garbage collection and charges this way could guarantee a sturdy recycling enticement for generators of much garbage. In this way, the money contributed by customers could pay for effective services and at the same time, the clients could feel satisfied with both the garbage charging and disposal.

Evaluation

In addition to the augment of waste decrease, client response was as well very positive.

The table below shows an evaluation of the garbage solution program.

Program Customers
Contentment level
  • Nearly 40% were completely contented with the program
  • 19% were moderately discontented
  • 8% were totally discontented
  • 33% were neither contented, discontented, nor refused to answer
Desired aspects of the pilot plan
  • Being charged just for the quantity of garbage in the can
  • Having clarity on what is charged
  • Offering a reminder to decrease garbage
  • Paying differently with those who overfill their waste cans
  • Saving cash on the waste bill
Desired method 54% chose the weight-based method over the previous can method
Enticement to recycle or reduce Nearly 48% had a feeling that the pilot plan offered them an enticement to decrease garbage and recycle
Revenue results The bills for the clients could have been lowered by 1% for every week
Undesired aspects of the pilot plan
  • Charges may rise
  • Different individuals may put garbage in the can and the client could have to pay
  • Difficulty, cans may be moved, or it could be a lot of work for waste collectors
  • Waste could be wrongly weighed

(Yepsen, 2012, pp. 36-37).

Execution timeframe

Execution Year: 2015

Expected success time: 5 years

Diversion prospective

2% revival rate

Cost

Fixed cost Year 0
($)
Year 1
($)
Year 2
($)
Year 3
($)
Year 4
($)
Year 5
($)
O & M 0 270, 000 270, 000 270, 000 90, 000 90, 000
Capital 10-year 0 0 0 0 0 0
Capital 25-year 0 0 0 0 0 0

Operation and Management (O&M) charges increase at 80 percent of CPI

Variable charge Year 0 Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
For each ton 0 0 0 0 0 0

(Yepsen, 2012, pp. 39-40).

Action viability

Recommended action is viable and possesses a greater chance of achievement. However, it is reliant on accessible weighing method expertise that could have to be setup on gathering trucks, as well as the possibility to verify weighing devices. The enticement of clients to save money through garbage reduction has fruitfully been confirmed via statistical and fiscal methods employed to gauge source decrease.

Landfills

Arrangements could be established for garbage service contract to recompense garbage contractors (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 41-43). The compensation must anchor on the action in attaining the garbage decrease aims by the city instead of the quantity of disposed garbage. The enticements of garbage contractors could be set up according to the garbage decrease aims to guarantee a jointly helpful partnership to discover novel advances that promote cost-efficient resource competence through hindrance, recovery, and recycling. Resource Management (RM) could ensure a planned option to disposal dealing that stresses on cost-efficient resource effectiveness through recycling, avoidance, and recovery in addition to restricting transportation and dumping. Resource Management could anchor on the perception that contractors would engage resource effectiveness if offered the essential monetary enticements. Resource Management contracts support the enticements of both garbage generator and contractor by limiting disposal reward and offering chances for both the generator and the contractor to gain from resource effectiveness innovations. Therefore, if a contractor recognizes cost-efficient recycling techniques for disposed substances, or systems for ensuring garbage management, they could obtain a fraction of the savings ensuing from the innovation.

The table below illustrates fundamental aspects of every resource management contract as they set client-supplier enticements at the best position for resource effectiveness by setting up a compensation method anchored on supplier operation and constant advancement. Moreover, the practices could offer knowledge rich environments where assessments of resource effectiveness chances occur. Available bonuses and fines could be tied to the correctness of accounting for the collection of waste beyond the base service point. Compensation goals could prevail for centralized residence recycling and be connected to the contribution proportion of accounts having removable container service (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 44-46). The incentive target would be fixed at 70 percent with incentives for greater involvement and fines for lower involvement. The incentive rate could double for involvement rates beyond 80 percent.

Comparison

Aspects Traditional transportation and disposal RM
Contractor enticement Determined by garbage quantity or a summation of pick-ups
  1. Restricted fee for garbage transportation and dumping service.
  2. Operation reward rooted in value of resource effectiveness savings
Enticement structure Contractors have a profit enticement to maximize garbage service and quantity Contractors hunt for gainful resource effectiveness innovation
Extent of service
  • Container hire and maintenance, transportation, and dumping or processing
  • Contractor accountabilities commence at the cans and stop at landfill or processing position
Services tackled transportation and dumping contracts in addition to services that control garbage generation (for instance, process aim, material acquisition, and reporting).
Garbage generator-contractor connection Negligible generator-contractor relations Garbage contractors and generators operate jointly to obtain value from resource effectiveness

(Yepsen, 2012, pp. 47-48).

Execution timeframe

Execution year: 2014

Anticipated success time: 3 years

Environmental advantages

The following are some of the benefits offered:

  • Decreasing the quantity of garbage disposed in landfills and incinerators
  • Yields lesser discharge of methane emissions by the landfills, and decreased carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide discharge from incinerators
  • Reducing the requirement for virgin substances, thus decreasing energy use to draw out, process, and generate the products from the virgin substances. The decrease in energy utilization lessens fossil fuel spending, therefore ensuing in decreased discharges of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide
  • Holding back the cutting of trees and thus retaining the storage capability of carbon dioxide offered by forests

Action viability

  • The garbage disposal contractors offered by the city expired in 2008 presenting a close-term alternative for reforming the existing disposal methods towards one instigated by resource management
  • It could be politically impossible for the City to shift to a single hauler.
  • Detached Resource Management contracts be deemed for both residential and commercial segments or anchored in geography (that is, northern and southern Seattle)

Carpet program

The city of Seattle should establish a compulsory carpet return scheme that necessitates retailers as well as manufactures to take up used carpets for recycling. The carpet program could go a long way in solving the landfill problem as the carpets that were previously dumped in landfills could now be reused. This aspect could be appropriate to every carpet traded in Seattle and regards carpet design, branding of content, customer knowledge, and may encompass carpet leasing. Seattle ought to allow industries to set up a carpet take-back market by offering tax in addition to other business advancement enticement (for instance, subsidizing land, supply take-back parks). Facilities for recycling represent capital intensive and large companies frequently begin them (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 49-50).

Small businesses that deal with recycling of carpet would contain mostly of material gathering, categorization, and integration. Seattle should generate effectiveness and achievement through concomitantly operating with small businesses and larger companies in a bid to gather, integrate, process, and recycle. Every carpet normally holds a combination of a carpet face and a backing. Enticement market should be created through financial backing to maintain customer charges low. Carpet that has been taken back ought to be handled through being directly used again, renovated, fiber being reused in terms of different plastic merchandise, reusing carpet as backing as new ones, and carpet-carpet reuse.

Computerized system

The use of computerized systems at every department in the city of Seattle could help in dealing with the current faulty system, ghost filling and low technology. The city could advertise for tenders to equip its departments with computerized and networked systems that could employ modern technology. Additionally, the city could collect used computer parts into City-possessed facilities (Yepsen, 2012, pp. 51-53). This collection could happen frequently with accessible containers. To attract clients, the city can charge just a small fee for this disposal as compared to disposal of other materials. Computer recycling could as well take place where the city could reuse some of the disposed computers. The city could employ a mechanism for having the disposed computers dismantled and safe extraction done to components that can be reused. In this way, all the concerned departments can be computerized at the lowest possible cost and full information of the accounts of clients could be availed to chosen individuals in different departments.

If not well handled, disposed computers in addition to other electronics could be a cause of pollutants and carcinogens. Speedy expertise transformation, low original charge, and strategic obsolescence could yield a rapidly rising supply of computers as well as additional electronic constituents. In this regard, Seattle city could also sell computers to its clients and the public at a cheap price, which could help in assisting clients to have an access to their accounts from the comfort of their house and request for the necessary changes of in their accounts. In a bid to ensure that the accounts remain secure, Seattle city could introduce passwords that could only be given to each of its customers (Tsai et al., 2004, pp. 209-211). The unique passwords could help the clients log in to their accounts and prevent anybody else from doing so without prior permission. Technological resolutions are accessible, but in most instances a legal support, a gathering network, and logistics require being implemented prior to using a practical solution. A tremendous rise in the creation of gathering networks for used computers could lead to a connected impact on charges and cost efficiency.

Materials entailed

  1. Computer parts like monitors, mouse, and central processing unit (CPU)
  2. Electronic Waste

Execution period

Execution Year: 2014

Anticipated success time: 3 years

Cost

System costs contain mainly of personnel time for devising and executing the program, adverts, and provision purchases. The standard charge of setting up the program could decrease significantly with the rise in peer instances, trainings, and universal support for demonstrating programs. Working costs have as well decreased. Working costs comprise staff, continuing publicity, hauling, and processing charges just to mention a few. Computerized billing methods could make garbage disposal practices more competent and fruitful. The choice to buy and fix a system like that, nevertheless, entails a noteworthy and adequate time with many errors initially (Tsai et al., 2004, pp. 212-213). The achievement of the Seattle city in the future will be partially established by the efficiency in managing information in the accounts of customers and make its access simple and secure.

Environmental advantages

A noteworthy quantity of toxic chemicals due to disposed computers and other electronics could be redirected from landfills, which could reduce the possibility of groundwater contamination and other contamination in general.

Action viability

With the upgrading of technology and success of recycling schemes across the globe, as well as low charges connected with execution of these schemes, executing this kind of program in the city ought to be very practicable.

Garbage rates and lasting disposal alternatives

The execution of a tiered waste rate structure encompasses a system where clients are charged for greater garbage dumping volumes. The tiered rate system is normally employed by the water companies to support water preservation. Water companies applies a continuous rate system where those who use much water are charged more for each unit of water as compared to those that conserve by maintaining their usage of water as low as possible. The water companies charge a standard fee for water used up to a certain volume. When the used volume of water exceeds the set volume for standard charge, the client must be charged as per the next rate level, which has a greater cost for every unit. A fixed rate ensures a constant income to cover the predetermined charges. Several tiers could be employed to establish various volume usage extents (Tsai et al., 2004, pp. 214-216). The tiered waste rate arrangement could be executed with similar standards like that of water companies and could be aimed at altering client conduct in escalating their garbage decrease and recycling actions in a bid to save money (evading the greater tiered unit charge for garbage disposal). Setting the charges in this way guarantees powerful lessening and recycling enticements offered for garbage generators. Through the execution of this rate arrangement on the clients, dense-garbage business sectors, as hotels and food markets, could aim at reprocessing, recycling, and lessening.

There exist two alternatives for waste collection in the city of Seattle. The two alternatives include waste containers and drop boxes. For every one of the above alternatives, the charge for an extra gather up is equivalent to the charge for the initial gather up. The current rate arrangement of the city fails to reprimand clients that generate a lot of garbage with a higher charge for every additional gather up of drop box or waste container. The tiered organization in the rates could encompass greater charge for every container gather up as a reprimand. A tiered waste rate organization could be established to include a charge program (Tsai et al., 2004, pp. 217-219).

Devising a tiered rate arrangement starts with assessing the manner in which to constitute a tiered system for determining charges. Following the establishment of whether the structure ought to gauge gathered garbage by heaviness or quantity, Seattle city requires regarding the kinds and dimensions of containers to apply and the most suitable service alternatives. In line with evaluation of this alternative, there is the postulation that the city shall keep on utilizing the available drop boxes as well as containers with the tiered charge organization that it is to adopt. In charges, clients pay by the heaviness or quantity dumped. These arrangements bear very dissimilar design and apparatus demands. In the quantity-based arrangement, clients pay for every container that they take for disposal with the use of a particular dimension container (Tsai et al., pp. 220-221). The charge normally encompasses the garbage gathering services. Quantity-based plans persuade clients to compress the waste to get into the containers and usually do not need particular gathering vehicles. In heaviness-based arrangements, gathering teams weigh the garbage that is generated by every client. The hauler after that charges every client for each unit of weight generated.

Heaviness-based arrangements offer a more direct connection between garbage lessening and savings, for each pound of garbage avoided, recycled, or reused generates savings. The aforementioned arrangements are more costly to execute and manage, as they need particular types of apparatus and large workforce to drive the billing arrangement. Due to its difficulty, heaviness-based arrangements have not been widely adopted. It is therefore an assumption that the city could prefer a quantity-based arrangement. The consideration that ought to be made in choosing a tiered rate arrangement encompasses the following.

  • At least, the rate arrangement ought to cater for the real charges of offering the service (gathering and dumping)
  • The contribution by the community ought to be achieved to make sure that the charges do not increase unnecessarily since if rates increase greatly they could attract crises with prohibited disposing

To steer the client in acting in the anticipated way, by the execution of the tiered rate arrangement, the city must edify the residents prior to the execution of the arrangement. The residents should as well learn from the available recycling, disposing, and garbage lessening schemes. Clients normally are concerned with generating a profit. If the tiered arrangement is executed, businesses will intelligibly be open to recycling and garbage lessening if it brings about charge-reduction in their functional practices (Dana, 2004, pp. 344-346). The particular sector aimed at by this alternative is the heavy garbage producers, like hotels and food markets. A huge segment of garbage generated by these businesses is refuse, which turns out to signify a great proportion of the entire garbage in the city. The tiered rate arrangement could enhance the aforementioned businesses to be practical in dumping their refuse rather than being reprimanded with the greater rates per unit in the tiered arrangement.

Execution period

Execution year: 2015

Expected success period: 5 years

Anticipated contribution and effectiveness

Industry/ Material Contribution (percentage) Efficiency (percentage)
Commercial MSW 10 50

Action viability

The recommended solution is viable, but holds the noteworthy hindrance of having to execute a rate arrangement that could raise dumping charges for numerous businesses (when judged against the current rate arrangement). A tiered rate arrangement could be effectively executed for residential clients, but not essentially for commercial clients.

Recommendations

  1. The city should execute a tiered waste rate structure where clients are charged more for greater garbage dumping volumes to lessen on the quantity of garbage disposed.
  2. Seattle utility should employ Resource Management (RM) systems to ensure a planned option to disposal dealing that focuses on cost-efficient resource effectiveness through recycling. Resource Management could anchor on the view that contractors would engage resource efficiency if offered the necessary monetary inducements.
  3. To boost its technology, the city should hire experts to equip its departments with computerized and networked coordination that could utilize modern technology. In addition, the city should collect used computer parts from residents in a bid to reuse some of their usable parts and produced available and cheap computers for its employees, clients, and the community (Dana, 2004, pp. 347-350).

Conclusion

Troubles at Seattle Solid Waste Utility commenced in 1983 with the closure of Midway landfill due to presenting potentially brutal environmental menace with the seepage of methane. The costs on customers were increased to assist in establishing other disposal alternatives. During the era that John Anthony took charge, as the director of Customer Services at SWU, the condition was at its most horrible point. Irritated clients would always make phone calls to protest concerning the garbage charge hikes since1986. The poor telephone system used at the Seattle Utility then worsened the misunderstandings that arose amidst garbage contactors, CSR, and Field Inspectors (Dana, 2004, pp. 351-357). There was no other means of ensuring documentation of the calls made apart from on paper. In addition, Seattle Utility had no structure to help in screening phone calls made more than once. The problems at the utility thus necessitated search for possible solutions. This paper has brought about a way of dealing with each crisis to ensure that Seattle Solid Waste Utility attains international reputation.

Reference List

Dana, D. A. (2004). Existence Value and Federal Preservation Regulation. Harvard Environmental Law Review, 28(1), 343-357.

DiPeso, J. (2012). Sustainability and climate change: Congress dithers, cities deiiver. Environmental Quality Management, 22(1), 91-98.

Fickes, M. (2013). Scrappy in Seattle. Waste Age, 44, 30-32.

Gorrie, P. (2012). Making the move to alternate week trash collection. BioCycle, 53(8), 25-26.

Mannina, G., & Viviani, G. (2009). Separate and combined sewer systems: a long-term modeling approach. Water Science and Technology: A Journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research, 60(3), 555-58.

Templeton, N. (2012). The dark side of recycling and reusing electronics: Is Washington’s e-cycle program adequate. Seattle Journal for Social Justice, 7(2), 763-810.

Tsai, J., Chen, V., Beck, M., & Jining, C. (2004). Stochastic Dynamic Programming Formulation for a Wastewater Treatment Decision-Making Framework. Annals of Operations Research, 132(4), 207-221.

Tucker, M., & Goldstein, N. (2012). Seattle mariners push the zero waste envelope. BioCycle, 53(12), 25-29.

Yepsen, R. (2012). Residential food waste collection in the U.S. BioCycle, 53(1), 23-53.

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