Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Fourth Way

The major concerns of the aldermen regarding the recycling—as exhibited in their discussion of the subject—are two in number:

1. Will the recycling fee actually terminate at the end of 10 years as it is supposed to?
2. The landfill is filling up and may become full in 4 or 5 years.

There was a third—minor— consideration,

3. Should we be foisting these bins on our constituency despite the fact that so many of them oppose the bin concept?


Let’s address the fee itself first. It won’t disappear…ever. Not without an entirely new council and mayor that take a 180 degree turn on their attitude towards government and the constituents it allegedly serves.

First of all the fee shouldn’t be there at all, even now. Recycling is part of waste management and should be part of the DPW budget.

Recycling is supposed to save money for the City. Why have a fee to save money? It doesn’t make sense. If the recycle bins will accomplish what they are touted to accomplish, it should be financially viable to pay for it out of the current DPW budget.

That recycling bins are being purchased with a fee instead indicates no willingness to budget, no confidence that the bins will work as promised. It is a lazy way to save money. It is an easy way to get more money from taxpayers without “raising taxes.”

There is no discipline in the council.

The fee is here to stay. We will be lucky if in 10 years it is still only $10.00.


There is good news and bad news regarding the land fill.

The scare is the landfill will have reached its limit in another 4 or 5 years. I mentioned this to a Mt. Pleasant resident and he said the same thing was being said 15 years ago. The land fill is always about to run out of room.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that recycling will have little effect on the life of the land fill.
We dump over 33,000 tons of solid waste into the land fill each year.

Last year we recycled about 705 tons of goods.

Expectation are the bins will increase recycling from 25% to 143% (the high figure being the Madison experience).

Lets say we triple recycling as a result of the bins—increase recycling by 200%.

Removing 1410 tons of solid waste from our current totals would decrease our solid waste total by 4.26% increasing the life of the land fill 9 to 12 weeks.

Do the math.


Elected government officials will forever depend on their bureaucracies to defend their actions when such actions are contrary to common sense and what their constituencies want them to do.

The bins are no exception. Statistics, those most ephemeral of lies, convinced our aldermen that we—the common folk out here—don’t know what is best for ourselves. But the bureaucrats do…and, using statistics, can prove it.

So the answer is: To Bin.


To me, recycling seems pretty cool…particularly since getting rid of recyclables is currently almost free compared to the $80 per ton to dump solid waste.

Bins and fees as means to take advantage of that cost saving is just a little loopy.

We had a saying back when I was in the in the military: “There is the right way, the wrong way, and the Army’s way!”

We have just found a Fourth Way: the City Council's way.