Pathway toward establishing universal garbage collection
Key among the tourism enhancement priorities of the Council of Economic Advisers is the maintenance of the islands’ image to our international tourist markets. One consistent hurdle toward establishing the CNMI as a world class destination of choice for tourists from around the world is the proliferation of garbage, waste, and debris that litter the CNMI’s beaches and tourism sites.
This issue is not new to the CNMI and has been recurrent throughout the many decades of our growing community, however, despite increased efforts to enforce anti-littering provisions of law, the root cause of much of the islands’ waste issues continues to be access to appropriate disposal means.
The Council of Economic Advisers passionately believes that enforcement of anti-littering laws and the establishment of universal garbage collection are the two primary components toward ensuring a destination that is safe, clean, and respectable for both residents and visitors alike.
The Council would like to propose along these lines a proposal for achieving universal garbage collection at homes and within our villages by leveraging existing private sector waste disposal assets toward expanding garbage collection coverage and pooling customers for communal waste disposal locations.
This proposal consists of the following elements:
1. Cost of garbage collection services be included into the billing for each residential customer of the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation
CUC’s billing database represents the most consistent and wide-ranging avenue to create a single and simplified garbage collection system. This combination of utility provision and garbage disposal is prolific across communities in the United States. Cities like Orlando, Florida and Walla Walla have combined solid waste collection billings to the monthly utility bill and have successfully operated curb side residential pick up of household garbage.
2. Recognition of the limitations on resources of public agencies
The Council recognizes the impact the creation of this additional service will levy onto a public agency, especially during this period. For this reason, the Council believes that existing garbage collection services present in the CNMI can be leveraged through government contracting to support the operation of collection and disposal. Details of this element is discussed further below.
3. Establish garbage collection zones across Saipan
Saipan’s roadways and geographic features make the even application of government services across villages challenging. The establishment of zones that are geographically and demographically collocated will aid in the logistical management of garbage collection. By way of recommendation, the creation of 5 zones that replicate the existing electoral precincts would offer a delineation of areas while maintaining an equal accounting for the population within each zone.
4. Permit a Request for Proposal process to operate garbage collection services for each household with current billing with CUC
The CNMI presently has 3 main garbage collection firms operating throughout the island. No one firm has the capabilities, assets, or personnel to provide coverage for the whole island. The criteria for selection of a firm to manage the collection service for a particular zone should include containing customer costs to the appropriate and equally applied level across all zones, the number of existing customers already contained within a particular zone, and a schedule for collection that will accomplish universal collection for all customers within a month’s period.
Further firms should be expected to propose communal garbage transfer stations within each zone that will serve as the respective zone’s transfer station.
5. Collect charges for garbage collection through CUC billing processes as a means to fund island-wide garbage collection services procured
In adding garbage collection services to the standardized monthly billing from CUC, the total cost of the bill, should include the cost of procured private services, necessary administrative costs for the agency, and any additional costs required for the establishment of communal transfer stations in the particular zone.
6. Ensure standardized rates, charges and fees across customers and across zones
As the customer base for private garbage collection services increases, along with the respective reduction in administrative costs necessary to manage individual customers, the cost per customer should see noticeable savings that can allow for an affordable and equal cost to customers across zones.
Concurred by the Members of the Tourism and Infrastructure Committee
Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers