Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pay As You Throw, Fiscally Conservative & Socially Progressive

CC image on Flickr by Bill Ward

Tonight the Brattleboro Selectboard is likely to reverse a previous decision which rejected Pay As You Throw (PAYT) garbage pickup. Brattleboro, like many towns, doesn't charge you directly to pick up and haul garbage. Instead garbage collection and pickup is part of the town's general budget and is therefore payed by property owners based on their property taxes.

It's an unfair system. I have no reason not to throw out large amounts of garbage every week. I have no reason to recycle. And anyone who does limit their trash and recycles what they can is actually paying more so that I can do whatever I want. PAYT makes the system fair. If I want to be wasteful, I still can. But now I will have to shoulder the cost of the waste myself. People have controll over their expenses.

A likely scenario for PAYT in Brattleboro will be that every 30 gallon trash bag you throw out will cost $2. Over the course of a year, if you throw out one bag a week (which I average) it will cost you only $104. If on the other hand, you have no interest in sorting your recycling out, composting, or reducing your waste, you will pay significantly more. I will not have to support your bad habits when my landlord would raise my rent because his property taxes increase.

The great things about PAYT are that you the consumer are in control of your expenses, you do not have to subsidize other people's wastefulness, and it encourages everyone to conserve, recycle, and compost.


Max said...

Sounds awesome, I wish Tucson would adopt a program like that. We are a wasteful city and seem to be getting worse.

Junio said...

It's a tough sell for just about anyone. But it makes a lot of sense when you look at the details. Many communities are happy with it even if there was a lot of turmoil before it went into effect.

Malika said...

I would be concerned that in some areas people would avoid paying for their trash and dispose of it somewhere else. They might put their trash in their neighbors cans or just out on the street. Of course we want to believe people would be honest about it, but it would be hard to control the morality and financial responsibility aspect.

Junio said...

That's why cans aren't generally used in PAYT. You can still put your garbage in a can, but it must be in the right bag or have the right sticker. If someone puts their garbage in your can without it being in the right bag, it will stay in front of your house after the garbage is picked up. You get mad and stay up to catch them in the act next time. If they find space in your bag, let them, obviously they are in some kind of bind to spend all of their time putting tiny amounts of their own trash in each of their neighbors' bags.