Community Purchasing Alliance Expands Waste and Recycling Services

Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) is a Washington, D.C.-based purchasing cooperative that helps schools, churches, and senior facilities cooperatively buy basic services such as electricity, janitorial, landscaping, security, garbage and recycling services. Doing so helps these groups save money, as well as improving efficiency, and creating good jobs.

CPA coordinates purchasing services and the cooperative then releases a request for proposal (RFP) for those services, and qualified local companies bid to win the contract. CPA acts as a sales agent for participating haulers.

To date, CPA has selected Tenleytown Trash, Bates Trucking and Trash Removal, and Affordable Refuse as waste and recycling companies that have agreed to abide by CPA’s consumer- and worker-friendly requirements. These requirements include:

  • offering affordable rates
  • allowing the group to discontinue service after one year (with month to month service thereafter) as compared to the three-year minimum contracts large haulers offer
  • paying a living wage
  • offering good working conditions
  • being open to employing veterans and ex-offenders

Compared to national waste hauling companies, local haulers require less of a return on their investment. They provide feedback to customers through regular waste audits, rates are fixed, and there are typically no surcharges or add on fees

CPA was founded in 2013 by Martin Trimble, Supervising Organizer of Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), after planning meetings with the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) in 2010. At first, CPA focused on cooperative buying of electricity, later expanding into other areas including solid waste and recycling services.

Since ILSR’s 2014 report on CPA’s initial accomplishments, the agency has expanded its reach to over 65 permanent member institutions. An equal number of organizations are on the path to full membership. In 2014, members saved $90,000 on solid waste and recycling services.

The latest addition to CPA’s network is the Collington Retirement Community, a nonprofit life care facility in Prince George’s County affiliated with the Kendal Corporation. It houses 500 residents on a 125-acre site in Mitchellville, MD.

Collington has an active resident sustainability committee. Its chair, Sara Case, was tasked with exploring energy savings options for the community. Ms. Case, former community activist and lawyer representing low-income people in Washington, DC, followed through conscientiously. Through networking with church organizations, she connected CPA director Felipe Witchger with Collinton’s CEO and CFO to identify potential savings. As a result, Collington’s monthly bill for solid waste and recycling went from $25,000 to $13,000; CPA is projected to save Collington $144,000 a year on these services.

Aggregate savings for all of CPA’s members and affiliates for 2016 is estimated as follows:

Waste Hauling – $201,757
Photocopier expenses – $112,900
Electricity/Gas – $535,870
Solar power – $51,680
Landscaping – $28,512
Janitorial – $81,472
Security – $58,718

Total = $1,070,909


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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.