Mob involvement in the waste industry peaked from the 1950’s well into the 1980’s.  Their territory and terror driven model wasn’t all bad. The Mob families ran their businesses efficiently and businesses communicated with one another.  Each hauler picked up ALL the trash in their territory which gave them incredible route density, leading to driver and fuel efficiency.  It also provided environmental benefits such as reduced air pollution, reduced traffic and reduced wear-and-tear on the roads. Customers received good service (at least they never complained about it), they largely paid on-time, and exhibited almost 100% loyalty by never switching haulers.

These waste haulers were able to feed the landfills as it was the Mob families that owned and controlled them with their own garbage, furthering their profits and helping to launder money from less legitimate operations.


For a “Member of the Families” running a hauling business, this was an ideal situation, business was good profitability was determined only by their level of greed.   For their customers, however, this set up had a few drawbacks: absorbent cost, lack of freedom of choice (granted by the US Constitution) and abusive enforcement tactics ranging from over-the-top usury practices to broken bones and dismemberment. 

In the 1970’s, local governments decided to adopt the Mob’s business model of one hauler per territory, referred to as the “Monopoly Franchise”.  It was a great opportunity for a municipality to get a piece to the garbage action, and has proved increasingly popular among cash-strapped cities. It provides all the same benefits to the community such as reduced air pollution, traffic and wear-and tear. This was of running things gives governments the ability to dictate how, when and where trash would be disposed of, ensuring that waste would be disposed of properly in Government owned or controlled landfills.

Unfortunately, there is no lack of greed in this Government model either.  Waste disposal cost for a commercial business in a Monopoly Franchise is usually 2 to 3 time more expensive than in a neighboring city with freedom of options. In fact, it is currently more expensive to dispose of trash in Monopoly Franchise cities then it was in New York City during the height of the Mob rule.   The Government also has their abusive ways of enforcement.  They are not breaking kneecaps, but they have the ability to level outrageous fines and place liens on your property for non-compliance. Your local enforcement office can tell you which hauler you need to use, what service levels you must have and how much you’re going to pay.

Did you really think you have a choice?

The bottom line is that you’re between a rock and hard place, whether you’re dealing with a local mobster or your government playing the role of mobster. There are definite strategies that employ reuse, reduction and recycling which are most helpful in controlling costs that you should investigate and employ. If you’re looking options, that’s where they lie.  




Need more value out of your waste program?

Marshall Staiman, LEED Green Associate

Marshall Staiman, LEED Green Associate

President at Talismark

The author is an owner at Talismark, a national waste and recycling outsource management company that services retail and commercial businesses throughout the United States. He is Harvard Business School case study participant and lecturer, he’s been featured in Forbes magazine, and has placed on Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies two years running. 


About Talismark

Talismark is a Waste Solutions Management Company that custom designs waste management programs to champion sustainability and compliance with measurable results.  Creating a customer experience that captures value, reduces cost, and saves resources!