Carbondale appears headed for ‘pay-as-you-throw’ trash plan |

Carbondale appears headed for ‘pay-as-you-throw’ trash plan

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Carbondale trustees appear ready to ask residents to pay for trash disposal much the way they do for water or electricity – basing the fee on the volume of trash they produce rather than a flat fee.

But trustees remain hesitant about shifting to a single-hauler system that would award all trash-hauling services in the town to a single company.

Carbondale Environmental Board member Jason White and Public Works Director Larry Ballenger presented both concepts to the trustees in a work session on Tuesday.

The “pay-as-you-throw” concept, also known as “volumetric billing,” charges customers based on how much they throw away, as a means of encouraging recycling.

It already is part of the town’s existing codes but hasn’t been enforced, according to Ballenger. He hopes to remedy that with a new trash hauling ordinance.

Trustee Pam Zentmyer took an instant liking to the volumetric system.

“I go weeks sometimes without taking out my trash,” she said, because she is a dedicated recycler. Under pay-as-you-throw, she could have a much lower monthly trash bill.

She noted that the town already offers paper and cardboard recycling, which would complement a volumetric system.

Her fellow trustees backed immediately pursuing the pay-as-you-throw system.

But the the trustees want to spend more time learning about moving to a single-hauler trash collection system. At present, four different waste-hauling companies ply the town’s streets and alleyways.

White said while a lot of trash pickups occur on Tuesday, “there’s a ton of redundancy” with multiple trucks driving around town on different days of the week.

“It just adds up to a lot of inefficiencies,” he said – driving up air pollution, noise pollution, and putting greater wear and tear on the town’s streets and alleys.

But the Environmental Board “wanted to get a gut check from the trustees” before taking any more steps toward the single-hauler trash collection system, White said.

“I think we need to be careful with what restrictions we have,” said Mayor Stacey Bernot, regarding such a basic change to residential trash pickup around town.

She said she fundamentally favors a system of open competition among companies, although she is willing to look at options.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea, I just don’t see how it would work out,” she told Jason White, a member of the Carbondale Environmental Board.

Although there was some concern among the trustees that reducing competition might cause rates to increase, White said Environmental Board research has shown otherwise.

“Some companies are willing to have lower rates in order to have a guaranteed customer base (i.e., an entire town),” stated a memo from the Environmental Board to the board of trustees.

Trustee Ed Cortez said he is worried that, if the town eliminates competition by naming a single hauler, smaller local companies would lose out to the big national firms such as Waste Management.

But White said that when Golden recently went to a single-hauler system, a small local company underbid Waste Management and ended up winning the initial two-year contract.

White and Ballenger said the Environmental Board would continue to do research on the single-hauler system, as well as submit a formal proposal for a pay-as-you-throw plan in the near future.

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