DEEP: Municipal Solid Waste Survey

 Full Cost Accounting

{Calculator and Pencil} Full cost accounting (FCA) is simply an accounting method to describe the total actual costs of solid waste management.  Managers of solid waste budgets find this approach useful because it allows them to identify and report actual expenses to municipal leadership, identify potential cost savings and background for other decision-making, and evaluate projections.  Fundamental and unique to FCA (rather than budget-based or cash-flow accounting) is that it accounts for the following principles outlined by EPA:

  • Costs rather than outlays;
  • Hidden costs;
  • Overhead and indirect costs;
  • Past and future outlays; and
  • Costs according to activities or paths.

FCA for solid waste is a valuable tool to help program managers better administer municipal solid waste (MSW) program costs and compare spending across services, predict revenues and address revenue uncertainty, set service fees and rates, and clearly communicate MSW costs to the public.  FCA allows you to run your program using a common business approach called an enterprise fund.  Enterprise funds operate separate from the general fund and have distinct revenue sources like bag or cart fees, base service rates, private hauler licenses or fees, revenues from recycling and investment income.

Having a full understanding of program costs and revenues through the FCA method unlocks opportunities for municipalities to make changes to their programs including modernizing pricing systems for solid waste and recycling.  See CT DEEPís resources on Saving Money and Reducing Trash (SMART).

CT DEEP Workshops on Understanding Full Costs and Funding Sources

CT DEEP and the US Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 co-sponsored free workshops on transparency and full-cost accounting for solid waste, reducing the burden on municipal solid waste budgets, and increasing diversion. The workshops helped municipalities begin to develop an implementation plan and budget for updating their solid waste program. 

Workshop Materials:

CT DEEP Municipal Solid Waste Management Full Cost Accounting Survey (2008)

In the summer of 2008, the DEEP surveyed municipalities to gather information on municipal solid waste management, such as how municipalities manage their municipal solid waste (MSW), the costs involved, and how those costs are paid for. This provided a baseline of the stateís MSW full cost accounting landscape. Survey results can provide guidance to municipalities as they make decisions on how best to increase their recycling/source reduction rates and manage their remaining solid waste in a practical, efficient, cost effective, and environmentally preferable manner. The survey  was administered through SurveyMonkey, an online tool for creating surveys.

Survey Responses

The following reports were compiled from individual municipal responses to selected questions from the survey.  Over 150 municipalities completed the survey.  The compilation of this data is only as accurate as the responses provided by survey participants and represents a 2007/2008 snapshot of municipal solid waste management. 

Report 1  Municipal Transfer Stations 
Report 2 (section 1)  Curbside Pickup of MSW for Disposal 
Report 2 (section 2) Curbside Pickup of Recyclables 
Report 3  Municipal Recycling Program 
Report 4 SMART (PAYT or Unit Based Pricing) 
Report 5 (section 1) Municipal Solid Waste Expenditure Details
Report 5 (section 2)  Municipal Solid Waste Revenue Sources 

Summary of Survey Results

DEEP prepared a slide presentation summarizing the 2008 survey results as of 8-24-09. For more information on the survey, contact Judy Belaval at 860-424-3237.

FCA Resources

FCA for Municipal Solid Waste Management (US EPA)- includes handbook, case studies, presentations, and questions and answers

Application of FCA to Municipal Solid Waste Management Activities (Government Finance Officers Association)

Analysis of New York City Department of Sanitation Curbside Recycling and Refuse Costs (Prepared for NRDC by DSM Environmental Services)

Solid Waste Full Cost Accounting (Florida DEP)

For more information on full cost accounting, contact Jennifer Weymouth at 860-424-3508.

Content Last Updated February 5, 2014