Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Transparently trash

"Going green" works in part by appealing to a simple aesthetic sentimentality, but in practise it means a perverse obsession with waste and, if one London councillor has his way, a decidedly unaesthetic display of it on the city's front yards every garbage day. From the London Free Press:

City hall is considering requiring Londoners to put trash in clear bags so pickup crews can reject them if they contain contaminants or recyclables.
Because nothing at City Hall can be decided on principle, even their own, the suggestion is being passed on to staff for "review" — a popular make-work scheme for the local bureaucracy in cases where nothing needs to be reviewed except for the political economics. Like that review on the proposal to disband the city's effective monopoly on garbage pickup and let residents choose their own service…

As a rung in the ladder of incremental clampdowns used for the city's "save a planet or whatever" policy, however, the idea is too compelling to ignore for long… and so is this one:
While the future of transparent bags remains unclear, the [environment and transportation] committee recommended another measure to reduce the amount of trash and the strain on those who collect it — lowering the maximum weight for each garbage bag or bin from 27 kilograms (60 pounds) to 20 kilograms (44 pounds). The unanimous recommendation goes to city council on Monday.
If it feels good and compels a bit of respect for the power of arbitrary enforcement, it's apparently good enough for the review process — practicalities are obviously not examined. Garbage collectors who can lift it to the imaginary scales can obviously lift it to the truck.

And what's a little policy-making without some absurd theatrics?
There was no need for a prop to convince councillors, but city staff brought one all the same — rolling in two trash bins, one 27 kilograms and the other 20, to demonstrate the weight trash crews pick up. As staff talked, councillors tried lifting the bins, some doing their best to not show the strain they felt and one just shaking her head and giving up on the heavier one.
Obviously what we need is a regulation banning the hire of politicians for garbage collection — potentially an incremental step toward more useful restrictions in the future.

1 Comment:

Jake said...

This whole fuss about garbage bags has conflict of interest written all over it. Councilor Stephen Orser is the one who is trying to push this law through and he will have a direct benefit as he owns a private junk/contaminate disposal business. Anything that appears as a "contaminant" in a clear bag would be left at the curb. A company like Orser's would likely need to dispose of the waste properly.

Also, the whole issue about regulating how much garbage bags can weigh is hidden behind the shroud of "health and safety of garbage workers". The fact is that all the city really cares about is getting more money from garbage bag tags if a household goes above the 4 bag limit.