The front-page article in today’s Newsleader is about New Westminster’s new green bin program. According to the article, with the introduction of a dedicated bin for food scraps, New Westminster has gone from having a 31 per cent rate of diverting waste from the landfill in 2009 to 59 per cent in the last three months of 2010.
Personally, I love the green bin, and I had been looking forward to the new single-stream recycling bins that are coming (you can toss in all recyclables without having to sort them all), but I see there’s a counter-argument that this approach lowers the quality of the recyclables, which results in a lower price for them on the commodities market (I didn’t even know there was a commodities market for recyclables … shows what I know!). The city is aware of this and has taken the position that more recycling is better (and I think I agree) but it just goes to show that these things are much more complex than they seem.
As I wrote this post I was reminded me of a Freakonomics podcast I listened to once on the subject of trash, which floated some interesting incentives to encourage waste reduction, including charging people for trash pickup based on the volume or weight of the trash their household puts out at the curb. “Pay-as-you-throw” needs to be done carefully if the goal is to increase compliance with trash diversion programs. Some folks in the U.S. live in communities with privatized trash pickup, and because they would have to pay an extra fee for recycling pickup they just don’t bother. At all.
How do you like the green bin program? What do you do to reduce trash? How do you think New West could further reduce garbage sent to the landfill?