To the editor:
I wonder how many people realize that solid waste (garbage) disposal is a public service just as water, electricity, phone, gas etc. The problem is we are not charged for the amount of waste we want disposed of. All residents of St. Charles Parish pay $17.31 a month for this service even if you leave home for two months.
The parish pays River Birch Landfill $30 a ton for disposal. Why do we not pay our fair share of this fee according to how much you dispose of. My neighbor probably has 50 pounds a month for pick up when a family down the street may have 200 pounds. That is not fair. I requested an opinion from the attorney general's office about the legality of this charge, but was told that they only reply to public officials.
If we had a system where we pay for what we throw (PAYT) we could have a good recycling system. It is a known fact that about 70 percent of what is in a garbage can can be recycled. Then we would only pay for what goes to the landfill.
There are 17,300 solid waste customers in the parish paying Coastal Waste about $12 per month per customer and the parish almost $6 per. If it's true that up to 70 percent of our solid waste could be recycled, we could have once a week of pickup and drop the monthly fee for the contractor from $12 to $6 and our fee to the parish from $6 to $3, which is used to pay River Birch. Instead of 3,000 tons a month to pay for, maybe it would only be 1,000 tons or less. That would amount to maybe a $9 or less monthly charge for residents. This PAYT program will not work unless we have once a week pickup.
If Minnesota has 1,800 communities with PAYT recycling, then what is stopping St. Charles Parish from doing the same? I know Dennis Nuss is trying his best to get recycling started again, but the problem is the people want something in return for bagging recycling waste for someone else to make money from and then have to pay them to pick it up.
The PAYT program that I know about in Seattle does not have a monthly fee and this program is voluntary. Ninety five percent of the residents participate. Sixty five percent of their waste is recycled and their disposable waste is transported by rail to a landfill 300 miles away in Oregon.
I would like to see Dennis locate a PAYT community and get some info on different ways to implement a program and the estimated cost. I believe there are federal and state grants available for a venture such as this. I hope our parish president sees fit to lend his expertise in getting something started.