City Explores “Pay-As-You-Throw” Refuse Collection

Last year, the City Council reluctantly adopted a $165 per household refuse fee. Because it was the only realistic means of closing a multi-million dollar budget deficit, the fee was a budgetary necessity. Unfortunately, it was also regressive and unrelated to individual service usage ­ in other words, lousy public policy. I am pleased, therefore, that the City Administration is now in studying a fundamentally different approach to refuse collection called “Pay-As-You-Throw.” In a nutshell, a “Pay-As-You-Throw” system charges residents based on the actual quantity of non-recyclable waste they generate. The less garbage a household produces, the less they pay and vice versa, with recyclables always free. Some 150 communities in New York State already employ such systems, using either trash receptacles, bags, or stickers. In addition to providing greater fairness than the current one-size-fits-all garbage fee, a “Pay-As-You-Throw” system also yields environmental benefits by encouraging recycling. Adopting “Pay-As-You-Throw” in New Rochelle will involve serious administrative and public education challenges. Therefore, many additional months of study and public discussion will be required before any decision can be made and implemented. I am hopeful, however, that with public support, an improved policy can be in place sometime next year.