GELF Supports Volume-Based Garbage System for Troy

Greens Call for Troy to Adopt a Volume-based Garbage System

The Green Education and Legal Fund (GELF) recommended today that the City of Troy adopt a volume-based, Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system to handle the City’s garbage.

The Green City Project of GELF had proposed such a system 17 years ago when Mark Pattison was Mayor. Students at RPI had conducted a study of the city’s solid waste program and had recommended a volume-based system such as used in Binghamton as well as an improved recycling system and composting. Residents who throw out more garbage to be landfilled would pay a higher rate.

GELF said it took no position on whether garbage should be treated as a separate expenditure in the city’s budget, noting that the bottom line was that Troy was seeking a significant hike in local taxes for next year. The Mayor wants to charge households a separate $190 fee for garbage. GELF however did say that the present proposal as designed would not help reduce the amount or cost of garbage the City has to dispose of.

“A volume-based garbage system is good for taxpayers and for the environment. The city saves money when there is less garbage to pick up and send to the landfill. Incentives should be provided to reduce the amount of garbage thrown out while promoting increased recycling,” said Mark Dunlea, Chair of GELF and one of the co-authors of the 2000 study.

The study found that in 1999 each household was paying $217 for garbage services.

“A volume-based municipal solid waste program introduces financial incentives to recycle and disincentives to discard recyclables with trash. Citizens purchase special bags in order to dispose of their solid waste. The more people recycle, the fewer bags they will have to purchase, and the more they will save. An increase in the recycling rate means increased revenues for the City from sale of the recyclables, and a decrease in tipping fee expenditures,” said Prof. Steve Breyman of RPI, one of the co-authors of the study.

GELF said that Troy must educate residents about the environmental and economic benefits of a PAYT program prior to implementation. Pamphlets, leaflets, community meetings, and public hearings are all useful methods of increasing public awareness. The main goal of education should be to inform residents about how the new program would work, and how it is superior to the current program. Education will increase compliance, and should be continued well after the program goes into effect.

“A pay as you throw program in Troy would be a win win, both for saving residents and the city money, as well as, finally working on the terrible waste problem that is destroying the planet. To not at least consider this system is sheer laziness and not showing much fiscal responsibility. Many people do not realize Green policies helpful to the environment, actually save citizens money and bolster job growth. The volume-based garbage system is one such example,” said Deyva Arthur, a green activist in Troy.

Under a volume-based system, residents are charged for waste collection based on the number and size of waste containers that they use. 3 In some communities, households are charged directly for waste collection (usually through direct billing) based on the number of bags or cans set out at the curb. Others require residents to purchase special trash bags, tags, or stickers that include the cost of waste collection in the purchase price.

GELF said it supported efforts by groups such as PAUSE to promote a regional solid waste system that would use PAYT along with coordinated recycling and composting efforts.