Monday, November 8, 2010

Some more thoughts on garbage.

Back in July I promised to discuss further the issues relating to garbage. It is budget time for local governments so I can no longer procrastinate about this important issue.

During the 1990's when I was on the NORD Board I was also member of the Waste Management Committee. This Committee was responsible for the management and planning for waste management. One important policy dictated by the Ministry of Environment at that time was to set aside funds for the closing of the Landfill site at the end of its usefulness. Closing procedures are very elaborate and require large sums of money. Recent estimates run at $25 million. By the end of 1999 there were about $3 million in the reserve account. Unfortunately, the money seems to have been used for other purposes between 1999 and 2009.

Whatever happened to those funds is of little consequence: the fact is that monies are needed to operate the landfill and for the closure of it when it is filled. My concern is how these monies are collected.

The city of Vernon collects the funds through mandatory garbage collection fees. For the quarterly fees each household is permitted to dispose of up to two bags of garbage each week. Coldstream was urged to use the same system. I consider this system totally unfair. Here is why.

We all purchase our garbage as it is part of the our goods we purchase. Obviously, the more one purchases, the more one pays. So why should we pay the same for the disposal of that garbage regardless of how much it is? Some households may dispose of one bag of garbage a month, while others religiously dispose the maximum two bags a week.

The fair system would be to pay for what we contribute, the user pay system. We need to set a fair access fee and beyond that we should pay an appropriate rate for each bag at the curb side. This would be fair to all and it would also encourage reduction of the waste stream. If one has to pay a per bag fee one would be more inclined to remove the recyclables from the garbage ensuring a longer life for the landfill.

Increased garbage fees are inevitable. What we must do is to make sure that the fee structure is fair to all.

Your comments, as always are welcome.



Anonymous said...

I agree, and would only add that in addition to recyclables, compostable kitchen waste undoubtedly makes up a portion of the waste stream.

Anonymous said...

I purchase packaging that can be recycled whenever possible. This results in one bag of garbage per month. About every six months we take this to the dump.

I would resent contributing the same amount as those who produce more garbage.

If I ran the universe I would add an extra tax on non-recyclable packaging and for that matter on toxic products as well.

Furthermore, I would reintroduce a transfer station where you could leave your trash and recycling. To encourage the reduction of waste I would increase the fee for those with more than one bag of garbage per week.

VernonResident said...

How is a "user pay system" with an access fee, that is paid regardless of whether a person produces garbage or not, FAIR TO ALL?

It isn't.

We Vernonites already pay a system access fee that includes 2 bags of garbage per week. This costs every household about $98 per year. Additional bags (stickers) are available for purchase.

As I've mentioned ad nauseum each time you post about garbage, Coldstreamer, you are not proposing any novel solutions, nor any action to address those apparently "missing" reserves you keep reminding us about.

As an avid recycler/reuser, like everyone who has posted comments on this topic, I would love to see a truly USER PAY system for garbage collection.

The only USER PAY system I know about, that works well in many European cities, is the purchase of special garbage bags - you choose how many you need, and when, to dispose of them.

This leads to a FAIR for ALL system:
- don't produce garbage? don't need to buy any bags.
- produce lots of garbage? buy lots of bags.
- don't need weekly pickup? set your bag(s) out once every 2 weeks, or even less frequently.

The hauler still hauls every week from your neighbourhood, but perhaps they don't have to pick up a bag, or 2 bags, at every house as residents now have a financial incentive to recycle/compost/reduce/divert as much as possible.

Paying a system access fee, regardless of how much garbage one produces, is NOT FAIR and does not do much to encourage waste diversion, recycling and composting.

Coldstreamer said...

Dear EastHillResident

You must be in an argumentative mood today. You more than likely know what I am about to tell you but argue on principle.

Let me tell you why an access fee is necessary (and remember you pay access fee for your gas and electric service as well). We collectively own the waste management service. Even if you or a whole bunch of other people only put in a bag a month we still have to operate the service for it to be available for you when you need it. That is the access fee I am talking about.

Should nobody put another bag out (it is utopia, our society is built on garbage!) then we would have to close the landfill site and that is estimated to cost about $25 million. So an access fee is necessary for the operation and maintenance of the facility

NORD could opt for selling bags but I guarantee you that the price of the bags would incorporate an access fee component. The proposed alternative of selling tags is pretty much the same as selling bags but here you pay the bag seller for the cost of the bag and there you pay for the profit component as well.

As for the hauler going by your house that is another convenience for you but if you did not put out any bags at a given collection day you did not contribute to thew cost of his service. That is another cost that the access fee would cover.

You may disagree with me and pen another letter but I do have other issues to tackle as well and may not reply to further comments.

VernonResident said...

Coldstreamer, as you said, we are in the garbage business, hence we shall not expect Utopia to happen anytime soon (i.e. that people will somehow stop creating garbage)

We know, on average, how much garbage is collected from Vernon residents and landfilled every year.

Do I wish that we all generated less garbage so our landfills filled up less quickly and we wouldn't have to worry about those horrendous landfill closure costs? Of course I do, just as you do.

Since we residents are not stopping creating that amount of garbage any time soon, on average (sadly!) we will still generate THAT SAME AMOUNT of garbage every year, whether we pay for 2 bags every week regardless of need, or whether we pay per bag, for the actual number of bags we need.

As you pointed out, the price of those special bags would be set in such a way as to recoup the average annual costs of garbage collection, landfill operation, and future closure.

But you argue that we need a flat-across-the-board access fee that is charged regardless of how much garbage people produce. How is that fair?

My argument is that if we included that within the bag fee, we would be able to accomplish your goal of a FAIR USER PAY SYSTEM, where those who create MORE garbage, also pay MORE.

We could then proudly show off a regional system that is more responsive to individual needs, that rewards residents with financial incentives when they reduce waste, and that still addresses our collective regional waste management goals.

How do you think those European countries manage it?

Personally, I am convinced that the cost to the regional system to dispose of someone's 3rd or 4th extra bag is more than just the sticker cost. Similarly, what self-haulers are currently charged is not enough to support the regional system either, yet RDNO Directors are too afraid to raise fees (sound familiar yet?) because it may encourage illegal dumping.

In conclusion, I would like to see a more direct relationship between fees charged for garbage collection, and the amount of garbage actually collected.

After all, those who generate the most garbage are the main reason our landfills are filling up in the first place!

And yes Coldstreamer, I'm sure we all have other issues to tackle.

Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

Gyula Kiss;


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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.