Garbage Wars

Seattle has gone too far in trying to ensure people recycle properly, and compost their garbage. In my town, over the summer we switched to town-supplied trash and recycle barrels that will work with shiny new hands-off garbage trucks. Reduces labor, except all the workers who no longer man the trucks remain employed by the town. Makes things safer. Especially when the new trucks actually work. My theory on the whole thing was “follow the money.” Who would benefit from the purchase of the new trucks and all those barrels? Who would make money on a dramatic increase in recyclables? And yes, the town was being held over a barrel by the regional trash facility planning to hike its fees, giving them an incentive.

While it has surprised us just how much recycling we generate, and most such stuff does go the right place, we, and other in town, were horrified by the word, before the thing rolled out, that cameras on the ruck would allow them to monitor and penalize you. We started using opaque trash bags, which were better in other ways, in case they did this. On the plus side, while they’d prefer that people compast garbage, it is not required. For many of us, it would not be viable, unless it were a third category of stuff being picked up by the town. Further, that still leaves foods that aren’t compostable, like raw meat trimmings. Or sad incidents like an entire package of spoiled chicken or – gasp! – bacon.