Aspen becoming greener place to live
The city of Aspen is getting a bad rap over its new recycling ordinance.A few of the companies that pick up people’s garbage nailed customers with massive rate increases in January. Last fall, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring waste haulers to include the cost of collecting recycled materials in their basic rates, and to base their rates on the volume of trash people put out each week. The ordinance is designed to reward people who recycle more and throw away less – and to punish those who don’t.One customer of Rocky Mountain Disposal saw her monthly garbage collection bill jump from $75.18 in the final quarter of 2005 to $401.25 in the first quarter of 2006. Donna Rowlands reported that when she called the company to ask for an explanation, she was told it was the City Council’s fault for passing a recycling ordinance.That explanation is disingenuous and unfair. Rowlands was never told that she could save money by diverting recyclable materials into separate containers, which the hauler is required to pick up at no additional cost.In all fairness, Rocky Mountain Disposal and the other two waste haulers in Aspen, Wally’s Waste Solutions and Waste Management, sent letters last month to customers explaining the changes. But only one hauler, Wally’s Waste Solutions, went to the trouble to break the charges down so customers could see how their decisions about recycling will affect their bills.The new rules on recycling and the rate structures that garbage haulers have implemented don’t have to cause so much trouble. As Sarah Laverty from the city of Aspen’s Environmental Health Department pointed out in a letter to the editor, other communities have adopted similar rules without sharp rate increases. She wrote: “The goal of the ordinance is to make recycling easier, more convenient and an integral part of trash service, and thereby increase the recycling rate in Aspen.”Nothing wrong with that. The City Council deserves credit for passing the ordinance in the face of threats of legal action from the haulers. If you have questions about the new rules or your garbage bill, call Laverty at 429-1798.The strength of the city ordinance is that it puts the burden of recycling on both the waste haulers and their customers. The haulers have to make accommodations for more recycled materials, and customers have to work harder at separating those materials, or pay considerably more for the right to throw it all away.We hope everyone will adjust and eventually embrace the new recycling regime, making Aspen a greener place to live.
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