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Just a clarification. The $3/mo fee is a DIVERSION fee it helps cover any number of the City's many programs that divert discards from the landfill. This fee is not earmarked for recycling per se and just makes up part of the overall budget for Zero Waste and Clean Cities efforts in Berkeley.
On the poaching, you have to understand the relative implications of the new carts. Yes other cities still have poaching, the carts do not eliminate poverty or the inherent incentive to collect valuable recyclables from private sources. But compared to the small open bins and bags, carts are a deterrent and we have already seen the reduction in illicit scavenging that other cities have experienced when they adopted carts.
It should be noted that recycling and composting services are still much cheaper than garbage disposal. So while the collection of recyclables has similar costs to garbage collection, the disposal of recyclables brings in an income, and compost is significantly cheaper to dispose of than garbage. The work we all do t home to reduce our waste and separate recycling and compost for the remaining materials, keeps the cost of the whole system down.
Besides, with the significant environmental and economic challenges we will face in coming year's, we must count on the continued energy and resource conservation, job creation, and pollution prevention associated with recycling and composting as a constant and standard way to manage our society's discards.
For more on eliminating waste, come see Annie Leonard (The Story of Stuff) and Raj Patel (The Value of Nothing) at the Daivd Brower Center in Berkeley next thursday!
Recycling has always cost money. Residents and businesses have always paid for it. The cost has been embedded in your garbage fees. Compost and recycling collection and disposal cost less, save more energy and natural resources, and create more jobs than land filling.
Berkeley’s proposed recycling fee would make these costs more transparent. The City of Berkeley can continue to raise garbage rates instead (like most other cities), but sooner of later the grey can will all but disappear. What will pay for collecting the green and blue cans then?
Garbage Rate Structure Is The Problem, Not Recycling
Recent coverage of the Solid Waste Management Fund deficit in Berkeley wrongly places the blame on recycling and composting. Recycling and Composting are cheaper to provide than garbage disposal. The problem lies in how the services are paid for.
The problem, which all cities are facing, is that as more materials are disposed of through recycling and composting, the bill to residents is still only tied to the garbage can.
Whether a public or private entity provides the service the issue is the same: when we produce less garbage and opt for a smaller cheaper can, revenue goes down. All of the services still need to be paid for, but are not showing up on the bill. So it is the rate model that needs rethinking, not the services.
Berkeley is not unique in this struggle. What would be unique is if Berkeley actually tackles this structural rate problem or takes the leap to bi-weekly garbage collection. These are two forward thinking approaches that may actually solve the problem rather than masking it by more across the board rate increases.
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