Stop mandatory recycling and tax trash instead (Opinion)
A tax on trash could actually work on two fronts. First, raising revenue and second, putting the responsibility for local environmental management on homeowners looking to save a buck.
As you know with family and friends in New England, my family and I spend a lot of our down time in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont. One thing that struck me about Vermont is the lack of trash pick up services. Homeowners in many towns are responsible for bagging their own trash and taking it to the dump. There's a fee for each bag, but recycling is free. This provides an incentive for people to bag as little as possible to save money and recycle as much as possible. The flaw in the plan in Vermont is that the taxpayers still subsidize the recycling. We can do it better in New Jersey.
First of all, it's critical to understand that we have plenty of landfill capacity in the country. According to reports, many regions have decades left of capacity with the current landfills before digging any more holes in the ground. The second thing to understand is that landfills are clean, effective ways of disposing of trash and keeping it isolated from the local environment. Thirdly, landfills can create clean energy that can power local communities and raise revenue.
Knowing that landfills are engineered to be clean and effective, and we have decades of use with current capacity plus the possibility of revenue and clean energy, it's time to drop the costly and ineffective use of local land and labor on mandatory recycling programs.
Homeowners should be responsible for taking their own trash (all of that combined and in sealed plastic bags of course) to the local dump/trash facility. Where there is capacity for a landfill, great. Where there is no local capacity, the trash wold be shipped out. The cost could be absorbed by the homeowner. The cost would drive the behavior of wasting less so to keep cost down.
The possibility also exists to sell trash to landfills looking for fuel to create clean energy. The market works when you get government out of the picture. Let it! Every time a politician has a 'clean energy' idea, something gets banned and we all pay more. We have to stop the 'group-think' that is crushing our economy and driving more people out of our state.
Get government out of the recycling business. It's a crushing burden for so many local communities. Allow homeowners to pay for what they use. Tax each bag. Everybody wins. Then maybe we can move on from the nonsense about banning plastic straws and bags, which will make for a less sanitary local environment. For now, I'm double-bagging my groceries to stockpile a supply anticipating a Murphy ban!
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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