Formed in 1969, metro waste authority (MWA) (Des Moines, IA), formerly Des Moines Area Solid Waste Agency, was created as a result of federal legislation banning open burning in dumps and landfills. It is the largest publicly owned solid waste agency in Iowa. An independent government agency formed by the city of Des Moines and 22 surrounding suburbs and towns in central Iowa, MWA has 60 employees and services a population of 475,000—all of Polk County and portions of Jasper, Warren, Dallas and 20 other counties, including MWA’s household hazardous waste facility, where they have satellite facilities and events for those smaller communities. MWA also recently purchased a small private landfill in Perry, IA, just northwest of Des Moines and is now serving most of Dallas County. “Metro Waste Authority is a great success story of regionalization; every community doesn’t have to build a household facility because our regional collection center goes out on regular ‘milk runs’ to pick up household hazardous waste,” says Tom Hadden, Executive Director of MWA.
Because MWA does not have the power to tax, all of the revenue is derived from what they get at the landfill gate, the ‘tipping fee’ or anything else that they have at the facilities. “It’s truly an enterprise type of operation, so we have to take a business model approach because we aren’t taxation based,” says Hadden.