Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Bin, No Barrel; eWaste Festival

I would be remiss if I didn't add two cents to the recent announcement* that Tiverton is taking a more aggressive step to help extend the life of the landfill and boost recycling rates. One word: Finally!

When I was on the town Recycling Committee back in 2004-2005 we discussed this but could not move it forward. If memory serves (and it's foggy), there was always the technical "rule" in place that stipulated that the waste hauler was not to pick up the trash barrel if they saw recyclable materials in it (read: no bins used). But no one could figure out a way to enforce it; nor did officials want to deal with the barrage of citizen complaints that could result by leaving barrels full at the curbside. But now, as the landfill begins to show more signs of brimming, the town is clearly changing their tune.

This is a step in the right direction, but we need two things in order to succeed: education and enforcement.

If the town was on their toes, they would seize this opportunity to partner with Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation on a public education campaign. There are still a lot of people out there who don't use bin; maybe it's ignorance, maybe it's a lack of know-how. Regardless, the time is right for a bit of a refresher course. What goes in the bin, what doesn't; other recycling resources like Eco-Depot for household hazardous waste; etc.

And by all means, the town needs to enforce the rule they are putting in place, no matter how many "complaints" come in. Stick to your guns on this one. Because if this doesn't work, I'm quite sure a Pay As You Throw program is lingering in the wings.

(*I'd link you to the announcement, but I couldn't find anything on the town website to show you. [Why?] And a quick glance at the Sakonnet Times site shows only one letter to the editor. I would have thought there would be more reaction to this. Maybe the times, they are a changing.)

On a related note, I came across this event happening this Saturday in West Warwick. The eWaste Festival aims to be the first of its kind in the country, trying to save the planet from all that electronics waste while having a bit of fun in the process.

Suggestion for 2010 (if it's still around): Multiple locations. I can't image folks from this side of the state are going to venture out to the hinterlands of West Warwick.


Vince said...

Not having curbside pickup in Berkley, MA and a transfer / recycling station that has a pay as you throw bag policy, I've been recycling for years now. The more I recycle, the less I throw away, the cheaper it becomes to buy trash bags (as I'm buying less).

If people can't separate into bins for curbside pickup (what I'd consider a luxury), then they truly are lazy.

Vince said...

Speaking of recycling - take a look at this link to a company run by a former colleague of mine:

We've Stopped Recycling!

(Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds ...)



Thanks for the link. Studio99 has achieved something that many more businesses -- large and small -- need to do. From the perspective of a mid-size employer (the company I work for has about 3,000 employees), there are two big hurdles to overcome: infrastructure/tech investment and changing employee behaviors. With competing priorities, the former rarely sees the light of day; the latter is often the hardest thing to do. Once you get past those, you're in the clear.

The incentive and case for sustainable business practices is still a tough sell. Check out that MIT report I linked to in the "Makes Sense to Me" post.

More locally, I've often thought that a robust local business coalition could do wonders for helping to promote and support sustainable business practices. For instance, you could probably get a better rate for recycling services as a group rather than trying to do it alone.

If I only had a local business... Save that for another day.