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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Thought Experiment

A while back I noted that the NSWMA's talking points are conspicuous for lacking examples of cities that have abandoned organized collection, or of real-life problems that validate the negative expectations that some residents have.

So here's a thought experiment.  Imagine that Maplewood already had organized collection today, and we were instead talking about a switch to an open hauling system.  Here's what we'd need to tell our residents, to educate them about the change:

  • A change to open hauling will increase your trash bills, probably by 20% to 50%.
  • Depending on who offers service in your neighborhood, you'll need to choose from as many as eight haulers. To minimize the increase to your trash bill, you'll need to contact and negotiate with all of them. They'll each offer slightly different plans that may be hard to compare (especially if they may or may not charge you for extra services when you need them), and to get the best deal you may have to agree to a long-term contract.
  • If you've worked hard to reduce the amount of trash you produce, you'll experience a much bigger cost increase than your neighbors who throw away many times as much as you do and don't bother to separate their recycling.
  • The one garbage truck that drives down your street now on trash pickup day will probably be replaced by 2 to 8 trucks throughout the day, belching diesel exhaust as they drive by.  Please pardon the noise if some or all of them drive by at hours when you're trying to sleep.
  • Even if you have a long-term contract, it will probably have a clause that allows your hauler to jack up their bottom line later with "fuel surcharges" and other special line-items whenever they think they can get away with it.  If you don't have a contract, they can raise rates whenever they like.
  • You should set aside a few hours every few months to study your bill closely and call competing haulers, to see if you can get a better deal.  Then you'll need to either renegotiate with your current hauler or switch to a new one.  This may sound like a pain, but it's your responsibility in order to make the "efficient market system" work as it's expected to.  If you don't do it, the market will punish you with higher rates.
  • Because your government won't be involved anymore, you shouldn't resent the time you spend on this or the higher rates you pay. Think of it as a celebration of your economic liberty, instead!
How do you think that would go over?


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