The Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles on Local Government Budgeting and Finance: Case of Solid Waste Collection

The Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles on Local Government Budgeting and Finance: Case of Solid Waste Collection

Recent research on autonomous vehicles (AV) has shown a substantive dive into the technical aspects of AVs, but our understanding of the secondary effects of AVs is minimal in comparison (Glancy, 2015; Mitteregger, Soteropoulos, Bröthaler, & Dorner, 2019; Terry & Bachmann, 2019). This article offers a look at how automation of one of the cornerstones of many municipal government—solid waste collection—could be altered with the advent of AVs.

In this article, full-cost accounting is used to assess how changing different inputs to the collection process, including direct, indirect, and capital costs, could yield savings for a municipal government. To conduct the analysis, data from the North Carolina Benchmarking Project for 2016-17 were evaluated, a range of assumptions were made based on the best available information on automation, and three cost scenarios were calculated for two North Carolina cities with differing means of collection today. The findings indicate savings in the long-run that could potentially reduce the cost of collecting solid waste by 27 to 60 percent.

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