The waste lords

Garbage In, Garbage Out | The Big Money

With very little antitrust debris to get in the way, Allied Waste and Republic Services, the nation’s second- and third-largest waste-haulers, are joining forces in a merger worth more than $4 billion. In 2009, those merged companies along with Waste Management—king of garbage mountain—will control more than two-thirds of the landfills in the United States and the majority of the residential and commercial waste industry. The stink gets worse. A recent study released by the Center for a Competitive Waste Industry estimates that the merger will result in significant price hikes for independent haulers as well as for the average consumer in 78 out of the 96 markets examined.

Ultimately these people decide whether our cities and towns are livable or not. Given that sustainable methods of dealing with garbage are typically more expensive that shoving it in a landfill and loking the other way, it’s not too good to think that there will be monopoly rents on top of this.

(I feel oddly prescient — back when I was just out of school I sketched out an SF story about how the people who dealt with waste would ultimately become economic rulers. Or maybe not. I also thought Browning Ferris would be one of them…)

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