Full Cost Accounting for Solid Waste Managers

October 4, 2021
Want to know your community's cost per person per ton for recycling, landfilling, composting, and waste to energy? NRRA staff recently co-led a NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Solid Waste Operator Training (SWOT) workshop for solid waste facility managers on full cost accounting methods for solid waste facilities that enable municipalities to make educated budgeting decisions.  The workshop held on September 17 was NHDES' first SWOT class held in person since the pandemic began in mid-March 2020.   During the hands-on workshop, attendees completed a full cost accounting model for their own community.  The final results from the completed models share the cost per person per ton for four different waste management methods: recycling, waste to energy, landfilling, and composting.  NRRA looks forward to providing similar full cost accounting technical assistance to qualified communities as part of its United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Recycling with Results grant in 2022.    
In advance of the training, registrants received a list of homework to collect and bring with them, much of which required meeting with different town officials.  The workshop began with presentations from Tara Mae Albert, NHDES SWOT Coordinator and Brian Patnoe, Transfer Station Manager, Lancaster, NH and NRRA Board Member.   Armed with financial and solid waste program data from their homework, attendees then completed a full cost accounting excel document during the class.  The document is designed to help facility managers build a better budget for their facility as well as make some determinations on how to manage their community's solid waste in the most economic and efficient manner.  NRRA Executive Director Reagan Bissonnette and NRRA Member Services Manager Bonnie Bethune provided hands-on assistance for attendees as questions arose during the development of the individual models for each attendee. 
As part of its Recycling with Results grant, NRRA will direct technical assistance to the smallest and lowest-income communities in New Hampshire, namely, those with a population under 5,500 and with a median household income less than the state non-metropolitan median household income.  One component of the grant will be a Solid Waste Advisory Team (SWAT) program.  The SWAT program will involve teams of experienced solid waste operators who will volunteer their time to work with at least five select communities and NRRA staff to evaluate current solid waste operations and provide recommendations for reducing the solid waste stream through improved recycling operations and other practices. NRRA will also help at least two of those communities develop full cost accounting models for their solid waste programs so those communities fully understand the revenue and costs of their programs and can make decisions accordingly.  The models developed and refined in the NHDES SWOT workshop will serve as the models for NRRA's full cost accounting technical assistance.  
The presentation, template Full Cost Accounting spreadsheet, and sample Full Cost Accounting Spreadsheet for Lancaster, NH are available at the NHDES website under the workshop title "Facility Managers: What ELSE You Need to Know" (almost halfway down the page). 
This material is based upon work supported under a grant by the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the
official views of the Rural Utilities Service.  Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc., is an equal opportunity provider and employer.