This article was originally published in the Teton Valley News on October 2, 2014. It is republished with permission.
This month tipping fees at the transfer station are increasing to raise funds to pay for the landfill cap. The new prices will also better reflect the true cost of waste disposal. Households and businesses can decrease waste disposal costs by reducing, reusing, diverting, and recycling waste. The less you waste, the less you pay!
But what about households that subscribe to curbside trash pickup? Currently, all household subscribers receive the same 96-gallon bin. The only option for reducing cost is to choose to have trash picked up every other week instead of every week. Walk through any neighborhood on trash day, and it is apparent that many households put both recycling and trash in the large-sized bin. Would you charge every household a set price for electricity no matter how much they use? Of course not! Paying for consumption encourages households to conserve resources and use energy efficiently. Pricing for trash should follow the same principle.
Studies show that communities with Volume Based Pricing, also called Variable Rate Pricing and Pay As You Throw, experience a 16-17% increase in waste diversion rates through a combination of increased participation in recycling, composting, and waste reduction. In Teton County, a similar increase in diversion would reap more than $70,000 in economic benefits. For the full benefit to be realized, the price differential between options should be set at 25-50%.
Volume Based Pricing does not make recycling mandatory, nor does it penalize households that do not recycle. Volume Based Pricing merely provides more opportunities for consumers to save money by reducing waste. By providing more than one option for bin size and more options for frequency of pickup, consumers have an incentive to recycle and compost to reduce their monthly trash bills.
This month, most likely on October 14th, the Board of County Commissioners will be negotiating a new waste hauler contract with Vorhees Sanitation. Teton Valley Community Recycling is working to ensure that waste hauling services are right-priced and include waste diversion measures. Volume Based Pricing is our top recommendation. We are also advocating for performance measures to be included in the contract, and for a stronger connection between waste hauling and curbside recycling. Performance measures that reflect the county’s goals to increase waste diversion allow the waste hauler to determine the most cost-effective ways to reach benchmarks while keeping our community moving forward. If all households that subscribe to curbside trash pickup also receive the option to participate in curbside recycling, recycling rates could increase another 6-9%.
In the 2013 calendar year, more than $60,000 was earned through the sale of recyclables. An estimated $240,000 worth of the same materials were either landfilled or transported to another community. The next waste hauler contract will play a large role in how much of that potential revenue will be captured locally. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or read our research document, “Waste to Resources: Waste Diversion Alternatives for Teton County, Idaho”, in the public documents available for the October 14th Board of County Commissioners meeting.
Sources: PAYT in the US, Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc, 2006.
Tanya Anderson is the executive director of Teton Valley Community Recycling. For more information, visit tetonrecycling.org, or email email@example.com.