Our Opinion: Are you recycling all you can? What if someone monitored your trash to find out?

August 8th, 2015 9:51 am

Would it be a good idea to …

… take a closer look at people’s trash, hoping to divert more glass jars, newspapers and other recyclables from a Northeastern Pennsylvania landfill where they’ll presumably linger for centuries?

In certain U.S. cities, microchips attached to trash cans and recycling bins are allowing collectors to keep a Big Brother-like eye on what gets chucked. The aim is to keep more things out of the waste stream, which saves money by lowering disposal costs.

In some cases, these recycling compliance efforts rely heavily on incentives. Dayton, Ohio, for instance, reportedly offers cash prizes to residents who dutifully fill their curbside collection bins with materials bound for re-use.

Elsewhere, however, people whose garbage contains too much food or excess cardboard face penalties. Cleveland residents whose trash receptacles are deemed to carry more than 10 percent recyclable materials could get stung with a $100 fine, according to an Orange County Register column this month. Titled “Recycling snoops trash residents’ privacy rights,” the opinion piece also cites Seattle as an example of a city whose government is using overly zealous tactics in pursuit of its green goals.

Seattle’s program has been accused of shaming violators of the trash-to-recycling ratio, because offending trash bins get marked with bright red warning tags. Meanwhile, a proposed system of fines for the city’s non-compliant residents and businesses has been put on hold. A lawsuit filed last month by personal-liberty advocates claims Seattle’s program crossed the line by urging trash collectors to snoop through open, translucent and torn bags.

A Chicago Tribune editorial slammed Seattle for its “trash-sorting police overreach.” The editorial suggested there are other means for encouraging people to strive for higher recycling rates.

Are residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania overdue for a belt-tightening, of sorts, when it comes to the trash generated per household? Can we better embrace food composting and plastics recycling?

Do we need cops at the commingling bucket?

Or is this whole notion garbage?

Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor or posting comments to this editorial at timesleader.com.

Likewise, tell us your ideas for improving the community and making area residents’ lives better. Maybe we’ll spotlight your suggestion in a future editorial and ask readers, “Would it be a good idea to …”

Do we need cops at the commingling bucket? (Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader)
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_gaminggrants031.jpgDo we need cops at the commingling bucket? (Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader)