Should We Pay $2 Per Pound for Garbage Disposal?
In many European countries, including Germany, throwing away garbage is a costly affair. Whether it’s based on weight, volume, or some other system, it’s a way to cut down on the physical amount that people throw away. And I have to wonder, should we implement something like that here in America?
As someone who loves savings, the idea of charging by the pound for garbage collection is scary to say the least. But that’s because, right now at least, I’m quite lax when it comes to the things I throw away.
We do not compost in my family. We should, but it’s just something we never got around to doing. We recycle when we can, but we haven’t set up a regular collection yet (shame on us, I know; space is an issue right now though). I recycle paper and cardboard at work. At home, not so much. All in all, I’d get a definite FAIL in the good garbage SATs. (See also: Make Money Recycling)
Sadly, most of the people I know would fail as well. And that’s simply because people don’t want to go to the time and trouble of sorting out different piles of garbage, having five different trash cans in the garage, tying up newspaper with twine, and so on. It’s a hassle.
Fees, the Great Deterrent
Apply a significant fee to the cost of hauling away your garbage, on top of the one you already pay for the trash removal service, and you may think twice before dumping everything in the bin. I know I would.
So how would it work? Weighing scales? Measuring sticks? Special bags or containers?
Well, on the website Reddit, a user called Nachteule breaks down one such service that’s employed in Germany. It basically uses different colored trash barrels for different kinds of trash. Here’s how Nachteule describes it:
- The Braune Tonne/Biotonne (brown trash barrel) for compost
- The Blaue Tonne/Papiertonne (blue trash barrel) for paper and cardboard
- The Gelbe Tonne/Gelber Sack (yellow trash sack/barrel) for plastic packaging
- The Graue Tonne/Restmüll (grey trash barrel) for trash that can't be recycled (for example a broken small electrics like a watch or a toaster, cold ashes, broken ceramics...)
There is also a public service that will get old clothes that are still wearable to support homeless persons and January there is also the "Weihnachtbaumabholung" — that's the day they will collect your old Christmas tree for free.
Each trash barrel has a fee based on the size and color. For instance, the grey 16-gallon trash barrel, for unusable garbage, costs around $140/year. Other systems in Germany weigh the garbage, charging by the kilogram ($4/kg, or roughly $2/lb).
It’s Working Over There. Would It Work Here?
The net result of all these measures is that in Germany (and Europe) people are way more reluctant to just throw their waste into a big pile for the garbage collector. Everything is sorted, recycled, composted, and donated, so that only a very small pile of garbage is left out. And if we all recycled, and I mean all, then we would see less waste, experience more savings, and help our planet. Sounds good to me.
A trash tag must be placed on the neck of each trash bag, or on the handle of each trash can used. A trash tag is valid for cans and/or bags weighing up to 35 pounds. If more than one bag of trash is put into a can, please make sure the total weight of the can does not exceed 35 pounds.
Effective January 1, 2011, the price of City of trash tags will be $3.50 each. The tags are sold in a sheet of 6 for $21.00, or can be purchased individually at the City Chamberlain’s Office only.
Is Ithaca the exception to the rule? Probably, although if your town employs such a system we'd love to know about it. But to my knowledge, nothing as comprehensive as the German system is in place here in the states.
So what do you think? Is it worth considering? Would you rather stick with the current system of throwing everything out on the curb? Or do you have an even better idea? Let us know.