Steve Changaris is the Connecticut chapter director for the National Waste & Recycling Association, which represents the private sector waste and recycling services industry.
By Steve Changaris
I read information that was circulated recently to the West Hartford Town Council’s Community Planning and Physical Services Committee and learned about the possible shift to smaller residential trash bins to encourage more recycling and, therefore, the set-out of less trash at the curb. I also learned that with this option, if residents wish to retain their larger bins, they will be required to pay an additional fee to do so. The smaller bins will not be free either; residents will be required to pay for them, too.
Before continuing down this path, town officials should answer a simple question: “Why?”
This proposed shift to smaller bins falls into the category of “SMART” initiatives, which also includes pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) bag programs. Under a PAYT program, taxpayers are required to purchase bags for their trash to be allowed to dispose their trash in the bins that they already paying for. These kinds of changes simply represent new taxes for residents managing their trash and recyclables. These new taxes are unnecessary; there is no need for West Hartford to levy them.
Connecticut ranks in the top 10 of states nationwide in terms of recycling, and West Hartford stands out as a recycling leader among our state’s 169 towns. If the town was experiencing unacceptable levels of trash in its recyclables or, alternatively, unacceptable levels of recyclables in its trash, a review of improvement options like additional education or enforcement initiatives would be appropriate.
However, it is not. In fact, West Hartford has an excellent program including convenient weekly curbside pick-up of recyclables, the opportunity to order and make use of additional recycling bins, and local ordinances that mandate source separation of recyclable materials. West Hartford is a recycling leader in Connecticut and it should not adopt policies that will have no impact to improve its waste management program.
In West Hartford, SMART initiatives are the proverbial solution in search of a problem. Such new programs – at the expense of taxpayers – are not necessary and will serve only to add new costs for families that work daily to make the town’s recycling efforts succeed. Just imagine the additional costs for West Hartford residents this year: planned new taxes on groceries and medicines, tolls, and a PAYT tax on residential trash.
Why punish success?
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