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Monday, January 12, 2015

Time to pay for bags of trash?

  .  If you have been a reader of this blog you know that I have been a proponent of recycling much of the trash we accumulate.  Howard County makes it easy to recycle most of our recyclable materials but our present system is completely voluntary.  Most of us recycle as a civic duty but there will always be a part of our community that is too lazy or just not convinced of the value of recycling. This past holiday season gave me a lesson in how having to pay for bags of trash was a motivator to increase recycling

  While visiting a relative in Pennsylvania I accidentally threw some trash in a trash bin and was quickly told to move it to the recycle container in a nearby closet.  It seems that the town was trying to close its local landfill by moving the town to a goal of zero trash.  Their plan to was start charging for each bag of trash you set out on your curb.  Stickers had to be purchased  for the different sized trash bags.  The fee for the stickers started out modestly but was scheduled to increase each year.  Kind of a "pay to play" plan for reducing the need for maintaining a landfill.  While the motivation to move to this system was more economic than environmental it started me thinking of why our County has not considered this as a move to encourage more recycling.  We have been an early adopter of trying methods to recycle waste but the method of making people pay for not recycling might be needed to get those who are less motivated by environmental concerns.

    This blog might also be a good time to plug the Columbia Freecyle as a good way to recycle just about any household item you no longer need.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting concept, but it has its tradeoffs that need to be carefully thought out.

My bottom line: IF the county no longer charged $225 per year (on the property tax bill)for trash collection, but instead charged say, a dollar per bag, I'd almost certainly come out ahead. We recycle; we compost; and with the kids grown and out of the house we generally have about one-half can of trash per week. Just not that much.

BUT - we could do better if the county took more recycling - e.g., they don't take the plastic clamshell containers that fruits and vegetables typically come in. So before this was implemented the county would have to expand its list of recyclables.

AND there are always going to be some people who will work to get around this. Some percentage of the population will dump their trash with their neighbors; into an apartment complex or business dumpster; or even in the woods to avoid paying. Gotta address that part, too.