Today's Question: 'Pay as you throw' proposal for garbage collection

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | 11:13 a.m. CDT

The City Council is once again considering "pay as you throw," the practice of charging city refuse customers based on the amount of garbage they leave on the curb.

Columbia garbage customers pay a base fee of $14.42 per month for trash pickup. Recycling pickup and lawn clippings collection would continue to be free under a pay-as-you-throw approach, a report reviewed by the council on June 1 stated.

John Glascock, public works director, said residents would be charged a base fee for a certain number of bags and an additional fee for extra bags.

The program would help sustain the environment and economy by promoting recycling and reducing the production of refuse, in addition to creating the opportunity to accumulate additional funds that could be used to finance the waste management and recycling systems in the community, according to the report.

One potential problem with the plan is that residents might end up illegally dumping their waste in public areas, City Manager Bill Watkins said.

No substantial research on the project has been completed, Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said, and the council decided to discuss the matter more in October.

Is "pay as you throw" the best method for dealing with excess garbage in Columbia?

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Matthew Cavanah June 10, 2009 | 11:27 a.m.

I'm not totally against this idea, but considering the economic state of the country I think it needs to wait. What about large families that have more than 3 children, or relatives that live in with them creating an above average household? These types of families can't avoid creating more trash than the average family, and they're typically tighter on money. How is the "pay as you throw" method fair to them?

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox June 10, 2009 | 11:39 a.m.

Matt Cavanah, they chose to have children (or at least sex) so how is it fair that I should have to absorb the cost of their increased waste, people should be responsible for for their own decisions. I personally don't think that I want this pay-as-you-throw, but to say it isn't fair is ridiculous. It would be the most fair of any other system, create more waste pay more money, as fair as it gets.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz June 10, 2009 | 11:41 a.m.

Maybe that will encourage people to recyle to reduce their trash bill. My family of four does that and our trash each week is almost never more than one bag, and that was true during the diaper years as well.

(Report Comment)
Mike Bellman June 10, 2009 | 11:45 a.m.

There should be an option. To encourage recycling, people can sign up for the pay as you throw option where they use TAGGED bags and have a lower cost base price. This will help people who are eco-friendly and people who don't toss a lot of trash out.

For families and businesses this is not as feasable option as a flat rate.

For those customers a stepped solution:
(1) People who don't recycle get the highest residential rate
(2) people who have recycling separated along with the trash since we know more than half of all trash is recyclable paper, plastic and metals would pay a reduced rate.

Your welcome. [silly grin]

(Report Comment)
Matthew Cavanah June 10, 2009 | 11:56 a.m.

You're right, I hadn't fully considered that. I wanted to make a comment about how the plan was akin to taxing the poor, but if it was put into place as this article states that wouldn't be true either, because all residents would be charged equally regardless of income class.
My roommates and I produce about two bags of trash a week on average. But we don't have to pay for our garbage pickup outright. It's included our rent, which we all pay separately. Would this plan affect the lease rates of apartment properties who use large dumpsters, instead of individual pickups, as well? What does this plan define as a "resident"?

(Report Comment)
Brian Heffernan June 10, 2009 | 11:58 a.m.

Mike, that is far too complicated of a system. Occam's razor applies here. Pay as you throw is an accepted method in Europe and elsewhere in the States. I promotes Recycling, reusing and composting. Eric was right on. What is unfair now is that I pay as high of a refuse bill for throwing out one bag a week as the family of six down the street that throws out three bags pays.

(Report Comment)

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