Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We'll fine you, but who will fine us? And New Recycling Guidelines.

I love this city, but it does some weird things (see DPAC/prison proximity). Oops, Durham doesn't actually do anything special with those $78/year for yard waste brown bins and pickup. It just goes to the landfill like the rest of the trash even though there are separate fees and trucks.

The story, which was forwarded to me by a friend who got it from a neighborhood mailing list, is from our local ABC news, titled, "Yard waste mixed with garbage in Durham"
It shouldn't be that big of a deal, but if the city makes you keep another huge cart at your house, threatening to fine you if don't use it, and then at least implicitly promises some good will come of the effort, then some trust is shattered. We follow the rules because the rules are supposed to make our city and world better. And better in an efficient manner. Money needs to be spent where it will have the greatest impact. I live in a new area without big trees:( so a mulching mower is all we need. But for many people in denser areas who even juat need occasional yard waste pickup, this is a big deal. They are paying extra money every month when they could just throw some leaves in the normal bin.

The city has not had a state compost permit for since 2004, and in 2007 the facility composted a little too quickly and spontaneously combusted. Since then, yard waste has gone to a Virginia landfill along with our other trash. Recycling from our blue cans goes somewhere else. The recycling guidelines have changed this month, as they do frequently. Back in are aseptic containers like juice boxes. For the first time I've known, yogurt cups and plastic buckets are in:
New Durham Recycling Guidelines

Maybe people should start a compost pile at City Hall. It's all in the same code, so you presumably would be fined $50 for littering at city hall versus $50 for putting your yard waste into your normal garbage bin. Leaves of the world unite! I'm certainly not really suggesting that, but the address rhymes with 101 City Hall Plaza, Durham, NC. You can still be fined $50 for putting yard waste in your normal garbage can - the yard waste prefers its own ride, even if its end up at the same destination.It doesn't want to split the taxi fare with those creepy diapers.

From the ABC article: "But city leaders say while the service may seem redundant, it's not losing that much money." It's never that much money when it's not your money.

This has been in the news before because it's been a problem for 3 years.

In Northern Virginia, the county doesn't run the trucks for garbage pickup. So if you use less trash and wanted fewer pickups, you can pay less. Or if you were dissatisfied, you can switch companies. I checked and one company in Virginia offered garbage, recycling, and yard waste for $17/month. It's hard to tell how much we pay here because it's rolled into our property taxes, but yard waste alone costs about $6/month. Trying to decipher the online budget, trash and recycling could cost around $10-$15/household/month, depending on how you allocate administration and transfer station costs. The whole solid waste program costs Durham about $20 million a year for about 75,000 households, so the high end of costs could be $27/household/month (and it would probably be higher if all houses paid the $6/month yard disposal fee). Interestingly, the budget includes $364,451 for the yard waste composting facility that the articles show isn't used. This includes expenses for three 3 full-time equivalent employees. I hope they are not actually spending this budgeted money.

Also, recycling services are not offered to businesses or churches. Since there's no competing trash services in town unless you have a dumpster, it's hard to get recycling services, especially for smaller nonprofits (I've tried - they don't return my calls).


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