Commercial, Multi-family and Special Events Recycling Program Feasibility Study (Town of Addison, Texas)

In September 2008, the Town of Addison, Texas, (Town) contracted with GBB to analyze the feasibility of creating a combined commercial, multi-family and special events recycling program and recommend options for program design and implementation. The Town believed that a combined recycling program with increased diversion would be more cost-effective and would better position the Town to be approved for annual recycling program funding through grants from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCT COG). In addition, the Town was eager to explore ways to better manage its solid waste and thus become more sustainable and “green.”

During this first phase of the project, GBB performed the following tasks:

  • Evaluated the Town’s solid waste and recycling operations through on-site visits
  • Gathered data from existing solid waste programs for businesses, multi-family properties, and Town-run special events.
  • Met with representatives from businesses and Town special events as well as observed multi-family properties.
  • Met with hauler and processor representatives.

GBB then analyzed the data and conducted benchmark research about other local recycling programs and opportunities. We developed four program options for enhancing recycling at the Town’s businesses, multi-family properties, and special events and submitted a report to the Town Council on January 13, 2009.

The Town chose to further explore one of the program options: transitioning to a commercial and multi-family solid waste and recycling collection system that included restricting commercial trash collection service to a single hauler. In a second phase of the project, the Town contracted with GBB to conduct research that would help answer the following questions: What kinds of solid waste and recycling collection services do businesses, organizations and multi-family complexes currently receive? Would the town’s businesses, organizations and multi-family complexes embrace the proposed system or should staff expect opposition? What kinds of concerns and questions do solid waste managers have about the proposed new collection system? What kinds of hurdles would need to be overcome in order to implement the new system?

GBB used three research methodologies to obtain current collection information from businesses, organizations, and multi-family complexes as well as opinions from solid waste managers about the proposed new system:

  • Online survey completed by more than 100 businesses, organizations and multi-family solid waste decision makers
  • In-depth stakeholder interviews with 25 solid waste managers, which included site visits
  • Focus group research – three focus groups with decision makers from multifamily complexes, organizations and institutions, and restaurants and retailers.

GBB analyzed the data from the research and presented a report to the Town Council in January 2010. Among the findings, we discovered that businesses, organizations and multi-family complexes actually wanted recycling to be mandatory, something the town had initially rejected as part of the proposal. They also said they wanted flexibility and freedom of choice as to which collector would provide trash collection services. The managers listed more than 20 questions and concerns about the proposed new system, all of which the town will need to address moving forward. In addition, they listed several suggestions for how they might continue to work with the Town as it further evaluates this proposal, setting the stage for the possible formation of a business/ multi-family advisory council that could reduce opposition.