United States Solid Waste EPA530-F-97-050
Environmental Protection and Emergency Response December 1997
Agency (5306W) w
1 PA Partnerships in Solid Waste
igh capital costs for solid waste projects, such as constructing
landfills and purchasing equipment, along with operating and
maintenance costs, present serious obstacles for many tribal
communities. In addition, the small size and remoteness of many tribal
communities, as well as insufficient access to training and technical support
programs, hinder the efforts of many tribes to tackle solid waste management
To overcome these barriers, many tribes partner with states, local
governments, and other tribes to open lines of communication and share
resources. These partnerships help tribes supplement and combine resources
to establish municipal solid waste (MSW) management projects that might
otherwise be too costly for a single tribe. For example, a tribe can share MSW
equipment, such as collection trucks, with other tribes or local communities
in order to reduce costs. Partnerships also can provide tribal environmental
personnel with wider access to technical assistance, training programs, and
financial support mechanisms. By working together, tribes and other small
communities with limited resources can expand their waste management
options to establish effective waste prevention and recycling programs, state-
of-the-art landfills, and waste-to-energy facilities.
WHY SHOULD MY your tribe. By pooling financial and drinking water and soil and
TRIBE PURSUE AN administrative resources, person- enhance environmental
nel, and equipment, project costs protection. In addition, a sound
can be spread among several waste management strategy
jurisdictions or tribes, making minimizes waste-related risks,
Tribes can gain significant them more affordable. such as fire, injury, and the spread
economic and environmental of disease.
benefits from partnering. The Protection of human health
following are some of the reasons and the environment. Reduction in capital costs.
you might want to consider A partnership arrangement can By partnering with other
establishing an MSW partnership. make more waste management communities, you can combine
options available to you, thereby resources and gain better access to
Greater economies of scale. ensuring selection of the most financial assistance available from
Through a partnership agreement, federal and state agencies and
appropriate solid waste manage-
you can implement projects that private sources.
ment strategy. This in turn can
may otherwise be too expensive for help prevent contamination of
2 Printed on paper that contains at least 20 percent postconsumer fibe .
Grants and loans are often more WHAT ARE SOME OF its jurisdiction. It probably will be
readily available to solid waste subject to tipping fees, however,
management programs that are levied by the tribe in which the
regional, rather than local, in
OBSTACLES TO waste management site is located.
scope. Consequently, as a multi- IMPLEMENTING A Conversely, while the community
tribal partnership, you may be PARTNERSHIP hosting the regional facility bears
more likely to obtain financial AGREEMENT? the financial costs and the potential
assistance for MSW management Although a partnership agreement conflicts associated with siting a
than you would be when applying can offer many advantages, there are solid waste management facility
as a single tribe. potential barriers as well. within its jurisdiction, it is likely to
receive such benefits as revenue
Operational cost savings. Potential partners can from tipping fees and less costly
By joining forces, you can cut have different MSW local disposal.
solid waste hauling and disposal management goals.
costs. Instead of paying to landfill While neighboring communities Hauling waste across
recyclable materials, for example, might share many common solid jurisdictions can cause
you can avoid disposal costs waste management needs and conflicts.
through an intertribal waste concerns, disparities in Partnership agreements can
prevention and recycling program. population, geography, industrial sometimes require waste to be
In some cases, you might even base, or other characteristics can transported long distances or
generate revenue from the sale of make it difficult for communities through neighboring areas.
recyclables. to agree upon specific regional Communities along routes leading
projects. to a regional solid waste
Job creation. management facility might see an
Waste management partnerships Multijurisdictional programs increase in traffic. Concerns over
in tribal communities can help can face varying regulations. the resulting congestion,
create local jobs through recycling Regions that straddle two or more pollution, dust, and wear and tear
centers, transfer stations, and jurisdictions, such as a reservation on roads can create conflicts
other partnership activities. and a nearby state, might need to among potential partners.
resolve issues raised by
Increase in compliance
with state and federal
contradictory or conflicting laws, HOW DO I KNOW
regulations, and solid waste WHETHER A
Through increased access to
management plans. PARTNERSHIP IS
funding opportunities and RIGHT FOR MY TRIBE?
Potential inequities can exist In most cases, partnership in
technical assistance, you can among neighboring tribes.
acquire the resources and know- MSW management means tangi-
If you are considering a partnership ble environmental and economic
how to manage your waste in agreement, you should recognize
accordance with solid waste benefits for your tribe. Consider,
that the costs and benefits of however, the potential advantages
management regulations. You can partnership projects, although
thus avoid costly cleanups and and disadvantages of any partner-
shared, will not necessarily be ship before making a commit-
other liabilities that can result identical for all communities. A
from improper management of ment. The following is a set of
tribe sending its waste to a facility questions to help you decide
solid waste. shared with its neighbors, for whether a partnership or agree-
example, benefits from not having ment is right for your tribe:
to site and manage a landfill within
x Are the MSW management
needs and goals of neighboring CASE STUDY
communities compatible with
he Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and neighboring Swain
x What services and benefits does County, North Carolina, both needed to close their existing
your community need from a landfills and find a new way to dispose of their MSW. After
partnership? evaluating their options, the Eastern Cherokee decided the best
approach was to construct a transfer station on their reservation. The
x What services and benefits does
$350,000 state-of-the-art facility, funded partly by the Indian Health
the neighboring community
Service, now manages all of the Tribe’s MSW (except for recyclables,
(your potential partner) hope to
which are collected separately). The Tribe also contracts with Swain
County to manage their MSW.
x What are the potential
drawbacks of entering into a This cooperative agreement helps offset the cost of running the
partnership? How can these be transfer station in two ways: by collecting tipping fees from the
minimized or overcome? county, and by decreasing per-ton operating expenses as the total
volume of waste increases. Waste is hauled from the transfer station to
x What MSW management
a landfill in South Carolina through a contract with the Cherokee
activities are possible candidates
Boys’ Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a variety of services.
According to Eddie Almond, Director, Tribal Environmental Office,
the main benefit of this arrangement is that both the Tribe and the
HOW CAN I BEGIN county were able to close their existing landfills, thereby eliminating
TO DEVELOP A landfill operating expenses and associated liability costs.
AGREEMENT? For more information about this project, contact Eddie Almond,
Director, Tribal Environmental Office, Eastern Band of Cherokee
Once you determine that an MSW
Indians, at 704 497-3814.
management partnership can work
for your tribe, you can begin to
design an agreement. At that point
in the process, you might want to
obtain legal counsel to help negoti-
ate an agreement that maximizes RESOURCES
benefits for all parties involved.
U.S. EPA. 1994. Joining Forces on Solid Waste Management:
The following questions can help
Regionalization Is Working in Rural and Small Communities. EPA 530-
you toward that end:
K-93-001. Washington, DC (October). To order, call the EPA
x What form could the RCRA, Superfund, and EPCRA Hotline at 800 424-9346 or TDD
partnership take? A contract, a 800 533-7672 (hearing impaired). Callers in the Washington, DC,
memorandum of understanding, metropolitan area must dial 703 412-9810 or TDD 703 412-3323.
and a mutual aid agreement are
(continued on back page)
x Are there mechanisms in the x Enlist the help of federal agencies. x Secure financing for the partnership.
agreement that allow you to The Bureau of Indian Affairs Financial assistance is available
discontinue the partnership if (BIA), the Indian Health from federal and state agencies
problems arise? Service (IHS), and the U.S. responsible for environmental
x Does the agreement require Environmental Protection protection, community
your tribe to accept total Agency (EPA) provide planning, and rural
responsibility for certain communities with technical development. Private
MSW management activities? and financial assistance to foundations also have grants
Does it limit tribal control or facilitate the closure of open available for this purpose. When
authority over the proposed dumps, comply with solid seeking grant money, be sure to
operation? waste regulations, and support emphasize that the funds will be
partnership agreements. used for a regional project. If
x Are there potential costs or funds are unavailable from
revenues associated with the x Acquire technical assistance. State
and local officials can help you outside sources, divide the costs
partnership? If so, how can evenly between the
these be equitably divided or connect with appropriate local
councils or planning communities involved or
reinvested into the project? according to community
commissions. State and local
agencies that oversee population or budget size.
WHAT CAN I DO TO environmental protection x Educate tribal members about the
efforts, community planning, partnership. Informing your
CARRY OUT A or other activities can provide community about the purposes
PARTNERSHIP assistance as well. Contact of the agreement is essential to
AGREEMENT? other tribes and nontribal the success of the project.
Once you successfully negotiate communities that are already Inform citizens about how the
an agreement, there are several working in partnership to get planned changes will affect
actions you can take to implement their ideas. them and how the tribe as a
the partnership: whole stands to benefit.
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Solid Waste (5306W)
401 M Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20460
Penalty for Private Use