Where the $110 in Savings Comes From in John Callahan’s Trash Plan

Bethlehem city officials tell Nicole Radzievich how they came up with $110 in savings for an average household:

To get the single-hauler  price, one of the methods the city used was the one-third rule. They figured that the landfilling cost is about a third of the price. After researching what other haulers pay, they assumed $55 a ton. Then, using national averages, they assumed the city’s residents would put out about 28,000 tons of trash and another 1,000 tons would be generated from the city’s own property.

Now, the math magic:

  1. $55 a ton X 29,000 tons = $1,595,000 for the landfilling cost.
  2. They multiplied that number by three (because landfilling is a third of the cost) and came up with $4,785,000.
  3. They divided that by the 24,000 households (buildings bigger than four units are considered commercial and not part of Callahan’s proposal) and came up with an average solid waste bill of about $200 ($199.37).
  4. With the city’s $60 recycling fee, that bill goes up to $260.
  5. The city would tack on an additional “administrative fee,” though they haven’t said what that would be yet.

Marshall said the calculation is not an exact science and tried to be conservative in the amount of savings would be passed on to the public. So, he’s projecting a $300 annual bill.

So, the final calculation is: $410 (average price paid now) – $300 single-hauler estimate = $110 in savings.

As Nicole points out, the city can only talk about the average right now (instead of the median) since they don’t know what all individual haulers charge. But Callahan’s saying they can get it down to $300 for trash, $60 for recycling.


  1. Where does the $410 average price paid now come from? I have a private hauler now (not located in Bethlehem) and I’m paying $300/year including recycling, once/week pickup.

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