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Public Collection Household Survey Baseline Study Results   


Between July 23 and August 23, 2001, the Ramsey/Washington County Resource Recovery Project Board surveyed residents in Ramsey and Washington Counties to assess their opinions of garbage service, public and open collection, waste management and government involvement in garbage collection.

This is a baseline study and should be used to gauge current levels of knowledge and opinions in Ramsey and Washington Counties.

Findings and Recommendations
Based on the survey results, the survey staff evaluation group presents the following findings and recommendations.

Findings

  • There are preconceptions among many respondents about how Public Collection would be implemented which are different from the ideas being most seriously discussed by the Counties.
  • Finding ways to use waste as a resource is important to respondents.  Recovering energy by processing waste, landfilling with energy recovery and composting food and organic waste are preferred by respondents.
  • Freedom of choice is a strong value for many respondents.
  • Cost is an important factor for respondents and was cited as a justification for both open and Public Collection.
  • Respondents want to retain competition between haulers.  Some respondents are concerned about small haulers being put out of business under Public Collection.
  • Respondents cited a number of hauler customer service issues.

Recommendations
The following recommendations should be part of the process to educate residents and collect their input and opinions about Public Collection.

  • Communicate the wide range of flexibility and potential options that go into designing a public collection system including:
    • Individual communities could determine what type of Public Collection is advantageous to their communities and how to implement Public Collection in their communities.
    • The Counties would contract with private haulers, not employ public trucks and employees.
    • Multiple haulers could serve each county.
    • Zones may be established in which haulers operate.
    • One hauler or multiple haulers may operate in a given zone.
  • Communicate the connection between Public Collection and achieving environmental and public health goals, including reducing the use of landfills.
  • Communicate to residents that choice of haulers is possible under a multiple haulers per zone approach, but that this may be a tradeoff for reducing truck traffic in neighborhoods.
  • Clearly and accurately communicate the direct and indirect costs to residents for solid waste collection and management.
  • Communicate the Counties' commitment to ensuring a competitive process, including a level playing field between haulers of varying sizes.
  • Communicate how the county could address customer service issues by including measurable and enforceable customer service standards in contracts.

Methodology
The telephone survey was conducted between July 23 and August 23, 2001, by Marketline Research, Inc.  The sample included 730 respondents, 521 from Ramsey County and 209 from Washington County.

The survey included randomly selected phone numbers of listed residential customers, screened so that zip codes were represented proportionately.  Surveyed households included only households that arranged for their own garbage collection service or which were in organized collection municipalities; 96% were homeowners.

During weekdays, the calls were made during the day and evenings, on Saturday and Sunday calls were made only during daytime hours.  Questions and response choices were rotated to reduce bias from respondents.  The survey included questions and basic demographics of respondents.

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