Waste management and local government finances

Luc Williams

I addressed such questions to nearly thirty city halls in the cities with the largest populations, asking for answers and examples. It turned out that the efforts made by officials and the results of their decisions are often similar, although there are many differences.

Difficult calculations

Increasing fees is one of the ways to balance the municipal waste management system. City authorities treat it as a last resort, not wanting to expose themselves to dissatisfaction from their voters. All the more so because a few years ago, a sudden increase in garbage collection fees was a heavy burden, especially for less wealthy households and large families.

Establishing fee rates based on expenses and costs is not easy. The following are taken into account: the number of inhabitants, the amount of waste generated throughout the city and the total costs of operating the system. Calculations are complicated by the fact that some waste is “produced” irregularly or seasonally.

“These are factors that, depending on current conditions, including: legal and economic, may fluctuate significantly. It is also difficult to predict whether and to what extent contractors will use the indexation clause,” says Agnieszka Jakubowska, director of the Waste Management Office at the Capital City Hall. Warsaw.

There were increases, there are reductions

The Katowice local government does not subsidize the municipal waste management system. It is similar in other cities of the province. Silesia, e.g. in Rybnik, where the fee rate covers the costs. In 2024, Rybnik residents have reasons to be happy, because they will pay less for garbage collection than in 2023.

“Due to the decreasing amount of waste generated by residents and the overpayment for 2022, the city council adopted a resolution to reduce the monthly fee for waste management from PLN 33 to PLN 8 per person in the fourth quarter of 2023 and to reduce the fee rate in 2024 to PLN 24 per person per month,” says Agnieszka Skupień, spokeswoman for the Rybnik City Hall.

Not all cities in the region are so colorful. The local government of Bytom has been paying subsidies to the system for three years. “The difference between the income from the fee collected from residents and its operation results from the increase in costs, including the increase in the minimum wage. This is also influenced by the decreasing number of inhabitants. The costs of administrative support for the system also increase every year,” explains Małgorzata Węgiel-Wnuk, spokeswoman for the local municipal office.

Actual costs

In Warsaw, the current rates of fees charged to residents for the collection of municipal waste fully cover the costs of operating the system, but the accumulated deficit for the years 2013–2022 amounted to PLN 988 million. Over the last few years, fees have increased in the capital, and the method of calculating them has changed several times.

It sometimes happens that before the system begins to self-finance, important decisions must first be made. This was the case of the capital of Greater Poland, which left the structures of the Intermunicipal Association “Waste Management of the Poznań Agglomeration”.

“From January 1, 2022, waste management tasks returned to the city. After leaving the union, the system was re-planned and balanced. The city does not have to pay extra,” emphasizes Katarzyna Jauksz-Zalewska, deputy director of the Municipal Affairs Department of the Poznań City Hall.

In Rzeszów, the system balances thanks to increased budget revenues. As Marzena Kłeczek-Krawiec, spokeswoman for the mayor of the city, explains, what was needed was, among other things, changing fees for containers and bags and adjusting the rates for uninhabited properties to actual costs.

Inspections and proceedings

Among other things, the following contributes to disciplining residents and entrepreneurs to report changes that affect the amount of fees: cooperation with the city guard and initiating proceedings in connection with the lack of waste segregation. It happens that officials use data on water and electricity consumption and the population register.

“We monitor the number of child births. We are aware of the increased influx of people and their high mobility, e.g. students and foreigners. We are working to effectively cover them with the system, including: we monitor benefits for people providing accommodation and food to Ukrainian citizens,” says Michał Guz from the Department of Social Communication of the Wrocław City Hall.

In the capital of Małopolska, the current fee for municipal waste management is PLN 27 per person living in a given property. Thanks to having municipal installations, it is possible to reduce the costs of the system, and the local government does not have to pay extra for its operation. Savings resulting from accepting a smaller amount of unsegregated (mixed) waste in 2023 are estimated at at least PLN 53 million.

Additionally, inspections are carried out in Krakow and, if necessary, explanatory proceedings are initiated. An increase in the number of people included in declarations from approx. 668 thousand (as at the end of 2020) up to 795 thousand (as at the end of 2023), combined with the change in rates, made it possible to obtain additional income of approximately PLN 3.4 million per month (comparing December 2023 to December 2020).

Tenders and contracts

“Before announcing the tender for the collection and management of municipal waste in May 2023, we conducted an in-depth analysis of the description of the subject of the order and the specification of the terms of the order, shaping them in a way that limits the risk of contractual penalties for events beyond the control of waste disposal companies,” says Michał Guć, vice-president of Gdynia for .innovation.

“Also, the rules for remuneration indexation have been written in the contracts in such a way that companies do not have to include factors beyond their control in the price. This encouraged smaller entities to submit offers,” he adds. Thanks to greater competition, the city received more favorable price proposals for the provision of services.

Similar actions were taken in Bydgoszcz, where a number of indexation clauses were introduced in contracts for 2024–2027, securing the most cost-generating price components, such as increases in wages and fuel prices.

“Contractors do not have to include these risks in their rates at the beginning, and therefore higher costs will be incurred only when there are grounds for valorization, and not at the beginning of the contract implementation,” emphasizes Marta Stachowiak, press secretary of the mayor of the city. . He also adds that after changes to the tender structure, costs for the city increased minimally, and rates for residents remained at the same level as in 2021, despite the increase in electricity and fuel prices. The local government of Bydgoszcz does not subsidize the municipal waste management system.

Incineration plant as an investment

Residents of Olsztyn are already benefiting from fee reductions in connection with the start-up of the incineration plant, which is to be ready in mid-June 2024. It is one of the most modern installations of this type in Europe, in which approximately 100,000 tonnes will be burned annually. tons of garbage.

“This is the largest and most expensive investment in the history of our city. It will close the municipal waste management system not only in Olsztyn, but also in the entire voivodeship. At the same time, heat and electricity will be produced,” says Marta Bartoszewicz, spokeswoman for the city hall.

An incineration plant is also being built in Gdańsk, where the fees collected from residents fully cover the expenses related to the operation of the system. “We expect a significant reduction in the costs of managing the energy fraction generated from municipal waste and real savings thanks to the recovery of electricity and heat in the waste thermal processing plant,” says Paulina Chełmińska from the local municipal office.

Education matters

“The costs of waste collection and management are directly related to their quantity,” reminds Marta Smal-Chudzik, director of the Environmental Protection Department of the Lublin City Hall. No wonder that an important element of the activities undertaken in this city is education addressed to all age groups regarding the idea of ​​”zero waste” and selective waste collection, which in the long run should bring tangible results.

Other local governments also undertake information and educational activities. Gdańsk, as part of the “Live in circulation” campaign, promotes solutions that fit into the circular economy. This is explained in the following scenes of the campaign: “Repair it all the time. Don't throw away!”, “Give unnecessary items to others. Let them keep circulating!”, “Avoid disposables”, “Don't waste food. There are better solutions floating around town!”

Financial Observer – open license / Observerfinansowy.pl


Luc's expertise lies in assisting students from a myriad of disciplines to refine and enhance their thesis work with clarity and impact. His methodical approach and the knack for simplifying complex information make him an invaluable ally for any thesis writer.