An ongoing joke city residents know about is to not walk the streets on garbage night or you will get tackled with the pleasant scent of trash. From the mountains and walls of garbage bags see along the sidewalk, it is clear that New Yorkers produce a lot of trash. This comes to no surprise as the Fresh Kills Landfill, previously located in Staten Island before being transformed into a park, was once the largest landfill and human-made structure in the world. It houses all of the tri-state area and New York City’s garbage that was picked up by the Sanitation Department at no cost. Now, the city is in talks about making city residents start paying for garbage collection.
It has been reported that free collection of garbage may be coming to an end soon. It is rumored that the Department of Sanitation is working on finalizing a contract with a Michigan-based firm, Resource Recycling Systems, looking into programs that will force New Yorkers to pay more attention to recycling. The developing program will be called “Save As You Throw” and will be the first step in potentially charging New Yorkers based on how much garbage they generate.
At the moment, the city’s recycling rate is at 17 percent, which is half the national average. With recycling in New York City being at a low, throwing away garbage is at a high, costing the city a lot of money. In 2015, the Citizens Budget Commission reported that the Sanitation Department spends more than $1.7 billion on garbage pickup annually. This figure does not include the cost of private waste disposal companies. There are two potential methods to improve those numbers, one requiring New Yorkers to purchase special bags for general garbage waste and the other is to offer tax incentives or credits for those who properly recycle or use organic streams. This is all according to the requested proposal issues in the city.
Due to the carelessness from New Yorkers with disposal, the city feels as if it has only a few choices other than charging residents. If this program is selected, the firm’s contract would begin in September and last for at least three years, shown in city documents. What are your thoughts on this matter? Should we, as city residents, be charged for our garbage, or is there another solution than fees?