Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Capstone Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Mark W. Davis, Ph.D., MPA

Committee Member

Kristen B. Crossney, Ph.D.


This paper assesses the value of backyard chickens in meeting municipal solid waste policy goals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from that waste, and controlling municipal waste management costs. Municipal solid waste is economically and environmentally problematic, with food waste being a significant component of municipal solid waste and its greenhouse gas emissions. Since approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is not eaten by people, municipalities are focusing on waste reduction solutions to address food waste. Austin, Texas is paying citizens to purchase backyard chicken coops to encourage people to feed household food scraps to backyard chickens rather than putting the household food scraps into the municipal solid waste stream. The value of backyard chickens was analyzed from comparative use, economic, and environmental perspectives. Each backyard chicken consumed an average of approximately 82.9 pounds of household food scraps per year. A ton of MSW food waste would be consumed by 24 chickens. These 24 chickens would produce approximately half the greenhouse gas produced from the anaerobic decomposition of the food waste they consume. For all three methods of analysis, the results indicate that backyard chickens are a highly desirable, cost effective, and environmentally positive way to address food waste. For example, when Austin, Texas’s government pays citizens $75 to purchase a chicken coop they can expect to gain $150.90 in present value dollars from that program. These results support backyard chickens in waste reduction programs in municipalities.