By summer 2013, all single-family households in Regina will be using individual roll out garbage carts. This, of course, is in comparison to those 30,000 households currently sharing large metal receptacles. Furthermore, multi-family buildings (apartments and condos) will be converted by 2015. This is the most noticeable change the City of Regina has made to its service deliverance since that meter reader stopped coming into my house to read my water meter. The reason is a combination of the new economic factors available and the personalization of garbage.
I will start with the latter as it leads to the prior. By reorganizing waste collection to an individual household style, it allows each property to become responsible for their contribution to the ever burgeoning landfill in this city. Instead of possessing the ability to pass blame onto that “polluting jerk” you call your neighbour, trash becomes a part of your house. By seeing how full you fill a cart that is roughly half the size of an average fridge, weekly, you become fully aware and liable for your actions. Immediately, environmentally conscious people will begin to take proactive measures to reduce their contribution to the problem. Simple options include ensuring to recycle and beginning to compost.
Radical options, for the more serious people out there include boycotting commercial packaging by unwrapping one’s goods and leaving all the waste in the store to let the business assume responsibility for their wastefulness. When this was attempted in Germany in the 1990’s it received mixed reviews, but, nevertheless, made a strong point.
"The City has provided the grounds for the most revolutionary change in waste management history: paying for exactly how much trash you produce. Well played City of Regina, well played."
If solving your pollution problem to protect your “street cred” just isn’t a good enough reason to reduce waste production perhaps financial incentives could do the trick. Currently, waste collection is factored into your municipal property tax. However, what if, similar to the highly anticipated 2013 release of individual curbside recycling, garbage was billed as a monthly utility? Now this wouldn’t cause much of a stir if you had to pay it regardless of your efforts. I believe that the City should, and will, introduce varying sizes of roll-out carts. Unlike Tim Horton’s and 7/11 coffee cups, the smaller size will be the best deal. The current ballpark for biweekly recycling collection is $8 to $10 a month, or $4 to $5 per pick up. Say that the current, half-refrigerator sized carts cost $4 to $5 per pick up; an annual cost of $200 to $260 would be incurred. If that cost dropped to, say, $2 per pick up for half the size, would you take the smaller garbage cart? As a university student, the benefits of an extra hundred dollars does not go unnoticed: 100 boxes of Kraft Dinner, 100 dollar drafts, 50 steals at a garage sale, 33 Big Macs, 25 Big Mac meals (without Upsizing), a one year subscription to GQ, The Economist, Cosmo, Time, and Sports Illustrated or that new pair of shoes you have been ogling all year.
Whether you are currently that rotten, polluting neighbour or you operate a net-zero house, the City has provided the grounds for the most revolutionary change in waste management history: paying for exactly how much trash you produce. Well played City of Regina, well played.