Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Metered Trash - Again. . . .

"West Lafayette should not continue to run a deficit,
so something needs to change"

- Journal - Courier editorial 1/28/10

In January of last year the Journal & Courier endorsed a metered trash program for West Lafayette. . . .

"West Lafayette's proposed two tier system gives consumers a choice based on how much they throw away, and the fees are not excessive for large families especially when compared with the costs of private contractors"
- Journal - Courier editorial 1/28/10

A year later, the paper now dismisses the proposal both in a 12/10/10 article by Curt Slyder and a 1/2/11 editorial. Instead it applauds a recycling increase of only 3.7% (Lafayette changed nothing and saw a 7.5% increase), adding that the Mayor should "take a bow" for such a modest increase. A poor return given the 33% increase in the number of city trash runs (from six to eight a month), and those attendant costs. A small gain when measured against the Duke University study which reported a 32% to 59% increase in recycling and a 14% to 27% waste reduction from metered trash programs.

The matter of sanitation costs has vanished entirely from the J&C's calculations. Whether we use the Purdue EPICS report number from April 2009 ($170,000) or the paper's own figure from January of last year ($112,000) the sanitation deficit remains and grows, covered by what was once a large waste-water utility surplus (net cash decrease 2010 - $2,770,000). The announced justification for merging the once separate departments? That waste-water/sanitation is one operation. Yet trash collection could easily be outsourced as a separate enterprise. A trash can and a toilet bowl are not the same.

I like our weekly single stream recycling collection. It is simpler. It does not increase my household recycling - or apparently anybody else's - all that much. Behavioral economics tell us why. It doesn't touch our wallets. I understand we are entering a political campaign season, but this is lazy work from the J&C. They didn't even read their own paper.

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