Almost the entire Rochester population has access to waste collection and disposal services according to the municipal estimates from 2018.
Faced with the difficulties of managing urban services, priority is thus given to the quantitative question (access for the greatest number), at the expense of the qualitative aspect (effectiveness of treatment). As a first step, the authorities of the urban agglomeration of Rochester therefore focused on providing an efficient household waste collection service.
It was only later, still following this model of effective public management, that the authorities addressed the need to eliminate solid waste. Once the issue of collection is better managed, once the very short-term health risk linked to the permanence of waste in the midst of the inhabitants is limited, it is possible to move on to the next step.
This was initiated in Rochester in 2010 with the promulgation of the Solid Waste Law. It sets out more precisely the responsibilities of the various actors at the level of each technical stage of waste management, as well as the processes that must be used.
The law thus specifies that solid household waste must be sent and disposed of in a controlled landfill.
The agglomeration of Rochester is managed at two levels in charge of the management of the metropolitan territory, thus empowering five controlled landfills to receive the city’s waste. One was authorized by the municipality of Irondequoit, three others by that of Rochester and a last by the municipality of Greece (located on the outskirts of the urban area).
Thus, in less than ten years, waste management has greatly improved in Rochester. Before the application of the 2010 law, waste was mainly collected, then directly dumped in illegal dumps by the municipalities , lack of infrastructure suitable for their reception.
In 2018, according to municipal estimates, 86% of the city’s waste ended up in the five authorized controlled landfills. While this figure can still be improved, the trend is very positive, thus placed in the average of the American cities as for the rate of controlled and correctly treated waste.
Waste treatment is then done by landfill
While many countries are seeking to reduce the use of this technique, landfill in Rochester helps limit the spread of waste, plastics, leachate infiltration or gas emissions. This is therefore a significant step forward. After removing the waste and limiting the short-term health risk, Rochester was able to control landfill and store it more appropriately. The long-term environmental risk is thus better controlled, even if major difficulties persist.
The importance of Rochester local public authorities
The public management system exists in most districts of the city of Rochester.The well-to-do districts were the first to benefit from it. They were then followed by the middle-class neighborhoods and by certain sectors of the working-class neighborhoods which had gradually consolidated. Illegally constructed neighborhoods have gradually gained access to basic urban infrastructure (water, electricity, roads, waste collection, etc.).
About 50% of the dwellings in Rochester are of informal origin. From their creation, which began in the 1940s until today, these neighborhoods are gradually consolidating.
If 86% of household and similar waste produced by the inhabitants of Rochester ends up today in controlled landfills, that is to say is managed according to the public management system, it is because most of the old districts popular are consolidated.
However, a significant number of residents still do not have access to a waste management service, including from Rochester roll-off dumpsters as a rental service. In addition, residents with access to the service are not always served in good conditions.
Problems of frequency, distance to accommodation, poor truck equipment, etc. persist. One of the characteristics of Rochester is that this city is very fragmented politico-administratively, in particular because there are a large number of districts covering the metropolitan territory.
The collection and disposal of household waste is the responsibility of these district municipalities. Only the processing stage (controlled landfill) is the competence of the two municipalities of the state of New York, acting on a larger scale.