Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trash cleanup in Carbondale - who should pay?

In the mayor's race, Sheila decided to attack Brad on his summer cleanup program. She had something to the argument, but it didn't ring true to most voters. Clearly, being against the summer cleanup program wasn't a winning strategy. I started to think about this, and I was talking to one of the Arbor District leaders (thanks Sandy) today at the Farmer's Market and thought I could do something interesting about trash cleanup now.

I have been reading Steven Landsburg's book "More Sex is Safer Sex" of late and it suggests an interesting way to look at this problem. The person who pays for the cleanup, should be the person who makes the mess. For example, imagine you have a piece of land and someone dumps a load of garbage on it. Who should pay to clean it up, the land owner or the person who dumped the garbage? I think we can all agree it is the dumper, instead of the dumpee, right?

I need to pickup the trash in the business buildings that I own every second or third day. After years of this pickup, the break down of the trash is bags or cups from fast food places (stuffed full of crap) (50% of the total), liquor bottles and cans (30%), pop and water bottles and cans (15%), and everything else (5%). I generate none of this garbage personally, I have a trash bag in my car, but I bear the cost of the cleanup.

Taking my non-scientific, but vetted over time, sample, it seems like the people who should pay to cleanup Carbondale are the users of takeout fast food and consumers of bottles and cans doesn't it? When did it become the land owners fault that other people tossed trash onto their property? That isn't right.

I ran into Bob Pauls today and asked him about this. Bob says that some other communities are charging $.10 per bag of takeout fast food to pay for the cleanup. I know that in some economically enlighten places, they have a bottle and can deposit, which shifts the cleanup costs to the people who litter. It isn't very hard to see how to do it.

I am now going to suggest that Carbondale get in front of this problem by keeping the large scale cleanup program, but paying for it through a usage tax on the people who are generating the litter, the consumers of fast food takeout and bottle and cans. The cleanup program should run throughout the year, if there are funds and then the youth employment can continue for the good of all involved. Of course, landowners who generate trash in their own yards will still have to pay for the cleanup, but those rules are in place now.

What do you think, should we shift the cost of cleaning up the mess in Carbondale to the people who generate the mess? I think this is why Sheila missed the mark in her complaints about this program, she was complaining about the victims receiving benefits and that is a hard sell.

Your comments are welcome.


tired one said...

I'm for it. Charge city cleanup fee (10 cents) on every fast food bag, cup, clamshell or plastic container, then hire cleanup people paid from this revenue.

Also, get City Council to raise fines for littering and then get cops of their duffs. Order them to write tickets for throwing garbage from cars. Theyu need to demonstrate that we mean business. $ 100 for the first offense, $500 for the second, $1000 and suspended driving license for the third one. This is how much it would cost you in parts of the country, and we need to do same thing.

dave said...

I'm for it, too.

Let's see how long it takes to get before City Council for a vote.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Someone would have to write up a proposal. Might as well charge for cans, bottles and water containers as long as you are at it.

I wonder if there is open source laws to "borrow" from?

cynical prof said...

I agree it's a great idea. I'm not sure it's politically viable, though.

Peter's buddy from Seattle said...

Puget Sound local governments add .4% to sales tax on carry–out food. I don't know if it is environmentally motivated or a people–lazy–addition to 6.5% state sales tax, 2.3% local sales tax (in any regional transit affected area—us!), and the additional tax on carry–out food and, I think, also on restaurant food.

Container deposits for bottles and jars are a good idea that needs thought out. The fees destroy curb–side recycling. How can customers get their money back? It also creates pile–ups and handling problems at the redemption sites. In Upstate New York, drink container deposits were implemented when we lived there and mosts supermarkets had to get extra dumpsters and arrange transport services from the recyclers. Even then the fund for unclaimed deposits built up so fast that New York state was worrying what to do with it. Politicians cannot stand unallocated money.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I have heard from an intelligent local source that putting a $.10 a bag tax on fast food takeout isn't possible for a city in Illinois. I wonder if a little tax on takeout would work? Like Seattle area with .4% or something?

I guess I was thinking that you couldn't do a deposit system on bottles and the like on the local level. No matter what, has to be Statewide program. But a small tax would fund the cleanup program from the items that are making the mess would be nice. You could team up with the recycling center and recycle all the things that can be recycled as a bonus. Maybe a 1% tax on bottles, cans and plastic water bottles?

You have special taxes on gas and other items, why not the things that make trash?

Anonymous said...

Our Scout Troop cleans up a portion of Illinois Route 13, so I'd agree on your breakdown of the garbage that's conveniently pitched out of car windows.

It's unfortunate we cannot tax the slobs that litter our roadways. They probably wouldn't even notice an extra dime or so on the bill.

Anonymous said...

re>...liquor bottles and cans (30%)...

wow. I didn't know you were THAT cool Peter. I wanna come work for you. Drinking at work would make lower pay that's common in SI much more bearable.

gadfly said...

I suppose this means all of you are on board for charging landlords who dump all the garbage in their rentals on the street in August a fee too.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Keep up Gadfly, they are charged now. Just because you haven't seen the bill, doesn't mean it they aren't charged. They are charged extra if they "require" a special out of schedule pickup.