Seattle Recycling Program: Seattle, WA – 1990 Innovations Winner
The closing of two landfill sites creates a municipal crisis in Seattle, forced to find new disposal options for the 2,000 tons of garbage it produces each day. Political concerns over what appears to be the most practical disposal option – construction of a major municipal incinerator – prompts the city’s Solid Waste Utility to undertake an innovative study to examine the extent to which recycling could minimize the city’s trash disposal needs. This case broadly examines the “Recycling Potential and Disposal Options“ study with an eye toward understanding the relationship between the political process and the techniques of public policy analysis. The case is designed to frame questions as to the proper relationship between policy analyst and elected official, and the ways in which analysis is constrained, properly or improperly, by political considerations.