Thursday, January 30, 2014

@PhilHoganTD Charge by volume, not weight, if you want to encourage recycling

Maybe it's my jaundiced eye, but I can't help thinking that this is a "bad thing" in the mind of the journalist who wrote it, "Currently, private waste collectors can offer customers any price and any charging structure they choose."

Well, Olivia Kelly, I happen to think competition is a good thing. Ever since competition came into my neighborhood's refuse market, it has helped lower my waste bill significantly. Long may it last.

But what of the bigger issue? What of the government's desire to incentivize "better" behavior? That is, what of the government's view that we need to dump less and recycle more and, thus, need a pay-by-weight system?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if the goal is to reduce the amount going to the landfills then charge by volume, not weight. The problem is that landfills are filling up, not that they're getting too heavy. So where's the logic in charging by weight?

If we are forced to pay by weight rather than volume – as we can now, paying so much per lift – I will recycle less, not more. A lot less. Why? Because most of my recycling is empty plastic containers. Those things don't weigh much and they're a pain to store because ... they take up a lot of room.

Can you see where this is going?

So if it isn't going to cost me a whole lot (more) to dump all that plastic I'm going to. Therefore, charging by weight will actually reduce the incentive I have now to recycle as much as I can.

Got that Phil Hogan?