Wednesday, June 8, 2011

15 cents a kilo...

We now (temporarily) have what look like "his & hers" wheely bins.

The big scruffy one has been in service for maybe 15 years.
The demure little one next to it is the latest high-tech, low-decibel, computer-chipped miracle which is aiming to curb our profligate tendencies.

It all started with warning salvo(e)s in the letter box.
The Community of Communes (local authority for waste collection etc) had decided to introduce "incitative pricing".
Followed several leaflets giving the general reasoning & rough proposals.
- Preserve the environment
- Reduce incineration
- Reduce costs
- Be fairer
Charge per collection & per kilo...

We were then invited to a presentation & discussion at the village hall.

Never have so many inhabitants been crammed into that hall!
Not even for free beer at the Social & Sports Club AGM.

Never has audience attention been so wrapt.
Certainly not at the Social & Sports Club AGM.

Never have tempers been so near to fraying!
Never has neighbourliness looked more flimsy!

The presentation showed the current situation, with ever-increasing quantities of waste & even-faster-increasing costs for disposal.
The efforts which have already gone into closing tips; providing bottle-banks, paper-&-plastic skips in each commune; opening "d├ęchetteries" where you can take your garden refuse, wood, metal, rubble, batteries, oil, paint etc etc to be recycled or disposed of as well as possible.

Then the new proposals:
- Smaller bins (120L for 1-2 people, 180L for 3+ people)
- Keep the weekly collection, only collecting bins put outside.
- Automatically weigh each bin & record number of collections in the year (each bin has identification chip, as well as big printed address label)
- Allow 12 collections per year free of collection charge.
- Collections over 12 charged at €1.50 each.
- All rubbish (even in free collections) charged at €0.15 per kilogramme.
- Annual fixed charge per house unchanged at €30.
- Annual fixed charge per person, reduced from €70 to €35.

They showed several "typical" cases, indicating that most people will pay less with the new system.
People who take paper, bottles etc to the containers will pay quite a bit less.
Anybody putting all their rubbish in the bin will pay quite a bit more.

The subsequent discussion was very heated.
- "You mean I am supposed to leave my shrimps & fish-heads rotting for a month till the next free collection?"
- "I want a lock so nobody else fills my bin, leaving me to pay..."
- "What happens if somebody dies part-way through the year?" (I think they were worrying about charges, not disposal).
- "We all know lots of houses who don't declare all occupants..."
etc etc.

We left before anybody got hurt.

Now the new bins are here, but we get 6 months "free" trial with dummy bills before the new charges come in - to iron out any difficulties.
The whole thing seems quite well thought out, except it penalizes old/infirm/immobile people who can't run their heavy rubbish to the bottle-banks etc.
I think the lesson is, that you really grab people's attention when you bring their money into the discussion!

Full details:

Parting thot: "Taxation with representation ain't so hot either." - Gerald Barzan

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