Friday, March 25, 2016

The City Spot Café: Organized Collection

Definition: Organized collection is a system for collecting garbage in which a named garbage collector, or a member of an organization of collectors, is OK'd to collect from a geographic service area or areas.

Plain-language explanation: Simply put, it’s the process that some cities use for residential and commercial garbage pick-up to coordinate which garbage companies will work where in the city, instead of allowing multiple services to overlap the city. The term may sound familiar since a number of city councils have been discussing going from a system that relies on residents to choose hauling services from private collectors to one that uses one or more designated collectors contracted by the city.

In the news: These discussions are currently taking place in the cities of Bloomington, Roseville, and Baxter, for example.

Pros: So why would cities want to be involved in coordinating the garbage hauling business? Well, perhaps for reasons related to reducing wear on infrastructure, minimizing the environmental impact of public services, reducing residential garbage costs, increasing the service options provided to residents, or better coordinating service delivery with another jurisdiction.

Cons: Critics, though, of such a practice might say that organized collection inhibits a citizen’s ability to choose a garbage provider—someone that they trust with entering their property and providing a service to their specifications. Critics have also claimed that this practice will harm local companies who cannot freely compete for business.

League position:  In 2014, the state Legislature clarified city authority to adopt solid waste service contracts that protect public safety, the environment, and public infrastructure. The League supports this current state policy and opposes efforts to effectively eliminate organized collection by making the liability too great. See the League’s policy here.

Resource: Want additional info on waste management? Check out the City Solid Waste Management information memo and these tools from the MPCA.

 This info has been served up by  League of Minnesota Cities staff. Contact: or (651) 281-1200.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information.


  1. Let's correct a few things in this posting. First, Roseville not only voted to keep the current free market trash system, they actually approved a motion that not one dime of money or time will be spent by anyone in the city on government managed trash collection.

    In Bloomington, the city engineer said that government managed collection would not make any noticeable road or environmental improvements. One primary benefit cited by the city is that they would be able to tack fees onto residential trash service to fund city employee positions.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Yes, we included cities that have made different decisions regarding organized collection in the examples provided.


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