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Privatization good for Detroit trash collection

Shape up, Detroit, and get yourselves in gear. Your trash, it appears, will actually get picked up on time nowadays. One aspect of the city's bankruptcy has been an attempt to get more bang for the buck in terms of services. Detroit's trash pickup has always been lacking, in some cases to the point where collection was as much as two or three working days late. But now that trash collection has been privatized it looks as though a new leaf has been turned.

In the Woodbridge area of Detroit, residents were expected to have their garbage picked up anytime after 7AM on Fridays. No one took the timing seriously, for it rarely mattered: the actual pickup would be at least well into the morning if not the few days late already mentioned. Yet today the trucks of Rizzo Environmental Services were patrolling area streets almost right at 7. Neighbors running late were scampering to get their trash cans out ahead of the garbage trucks. Rizzo has the contract for most of southwest, central, and east Detroit; Advanced Disposal will cover most of the west side of town.

There will be regular weekly collection of normal household trash, and regular bi-weekly collection in season of yard waste and all year for bulk items. Before, yard waste was often left in the streets and on the curbs in Woodbridge, and bulk collections were only 4 times a year. For those into it, for the first time in Detroit history there will be curbside collection of recyclables, albeit for a one time $25 fee. All of this simply because garbage collection is privately run. All of it after Kwame Kilpatrick had an added $300 charge to city residents' property tax to pay for better trash service which was never really delivered.

This is a prime example of where private initiative trumps public intentions. The city can't pick up trash on its own because it has no real competition, while Rizzo and Advanced Disposal know they will be, ah, kicked to the curb if they don't live up to expectations. We see the effects of that in the garbage trucks out and about right when they're supposed to be.

Privatization works. In the long, it will improve Detroit in more ways and manners than garbage collection too.

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