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Letters to the Editor

German model

April 12, 2009

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To the editor:

The Germans solved the curbside recycling problem 20 years ago. The city in which we lived, Kaiserslautern, put out a list of materials which were to be segregated and separately collected and fined every household that didn’t segregate their trash to the tune of approximately $70 per improperly segregated container. The fines paid for the labor expended in sorting the trash and hit home with the seriousness of the city’s resolve.

Compostable waste, such as table scraps and yard waste, could only be mixed with small amounts of paper — NO PLASTIC! Metal was separated, glass was separated, paper and clean plastic also. These measures left a clean waste stream and enabled cities across Germany to hold the line on tax measures because the recycling effort resulted in a revenue stream to support local budgets.

I don’t suppose our fair city will want to do this — it being un-American and all. But think about it, the 75,000 Americans living in and around Kaiserslautern bought into it, some of them immediately after they were fined, but most of them from the very start. It works!

- Ross is from Lawrence

Comments

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

Saw the title & thought this was about the latest 911. Never mind.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

What's stopping you, Pilgrim? Go ahead and sell the stuff on the open market. Let us know what you do with all your riches.

Centerville 5 years, 8 months ago

This calls for a shout out to You Tube / Penn & Teller Recycling Myths.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 8 months ago

"But think about it, the 75,000 Americans living in and around Kaiserslautern bought into it, some of them immediately after they were fined, but most of them from the very start. It works!"

They didn't buy into it as much as they were forced into it by punative trash taxes. They are also a captive audience by virtue of being DoD/military. That isn't volunteering or "buying into" a system.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"That isn't volunteering or “buying into” a system."

Why do you hate the military?

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 8 months ago

"The city...put out a list of materials which were to be segregated..."

"(The city) fined every household that didn’t segregate..."

Does anyone else see how frightening this is? The government issues an edict, formulates a list, and prescribes a punishment for lack of conformity. This is NOT the model we want here in America.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

Yea, and I bet your sewer lines dump all your raw sewage out onto the curb, right under your "Don't Tread On Me," flag, right STRS? Aint no gubmint going to tell you and Pilgrim how to dispose of your turds.

normal_entire_route 5 years, 8 months ago

Folks, the current system is broken. It is not sustainable. If we continue to lead the world in resource hogging (and polluting) we'll just be speeding up the eventuality of the very solutions many of you are afraid of. So, scare-d-cats, what's your solution other than "stay the course?" Come on, I know you can do it...

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 8 months ago

bozo,

A) "Aint no gubmint"? You, sir, are the ultimate elitist. You're the type of person I talk about at cocktail parties when I'm describing the arrogance of the Far Left. You're the guy who believes he knows how best to control the lives of everyone else.

B) Your sewer line analaogy, if that's what we want to call it, is such a far cry from a reasonable comparison that it doesn't warrant an intelligent response.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

" You, sir, are the ultimate elitist."

Wow, I won the contest? I didn't even know I'd passed the first audition.

"Your sewer line analaogy, if that's what we want to call it, is such a far cry from a reasonable comparison that it doesn't warrant an intelligent response."

Actually, it's extremely analogous. Both are waste streams that emit from your house for someone else to deal with in some manner or another The vast majority of folks in this and other American cities think it's quite appropriate that municipal governments deal with it, and they have the right to bill you for your share of the cost.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 8 months ago

"... it's quite reasonable that municipal governments deal with it." They do deal with it. My trash gets picked up every Tuesday.

"...they (government) have the right to bill you for your share of the cost." They do bill me for it.

Ask yourself, bozo: Would the Founding Fathers have ever imagined a United States of America that has municipal government auditing your trash?

I used to wonder where the Far Left would be willing to draw the line on government encroachment. Now I know that they are the cheerleaders for more government involved in our everyday lives.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"Ask yourself, bozo: Would the Founding Fathers have ever imagined a United States of America that has municipal government auditing your trash?"

Start dumping your raw sewage on the curb, and see if that gets "audited."

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

bozo, you dump your raw sewage on this board darned near every day. Nobody wants to audit that.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 8 months ago

Raw sewage on our city streets compared with governenment-mandated recycling programs. I'm still failing to see the tie-in.

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

"Would the Founding Fathers have ever imagined a United States of America that has municipal government auditing your trash?"

Living in an 18th century, underpopulated, agrarian society, they probably wouldn't have ever imagined enormous landfills or depleting resources, either.

But then, they'd probably have also have had difficulty imagining their womenfolk and slaves voting either.

sourpuss 5 years, 8 months ago

What does it matter what the "founding fathers" thought about something? Do we sit around and ask "What would Voltaire have thought?" We're 233 years on, people. Jefferson probably didn't have a detailed philosophy on plastics recycling because THERE WERE NO PLASTICS. Drop the FF BS and think for yourselves. If you just throw it away (you're being charged for that already) then you'll have to pay later to reclaim it from landfills. In the end, you pay anyway. Deal with it. Life isn't free, and you can't take it with you regardless.

standuporget 5 years, 8 months ago

The fines paid for the labor expended in sorting the trash and hit home with the seriousness of the city’s resolve. This might sound silly, but if everybody does it right, how does it get paid for?

notajayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Aint no gubmint going to tell you and Pilgrim how to dispose of your turds."

It appears they've been disposed of by being dumped into these threads, under the moniker of a bus-riding clown.

"The vast majority of folks in this and other American cities think it's quite appropriate that municipal governments deal with it, and they have the right to bill you for your share of the cost."

Care to test that theory, Herr Klowne? Just ask the nearby folks in KCMO, who years ago agreed to a tax increase in return for 'free' trash pickup, and were understandably miffed a few years back when the city started charging them for pickup after the first couple of bags per household.


sourpuss (Anonymous) says…

"What does it matter what the “founding fathers” thought about something?"

Matters just a tad more than what the Germans think about anything we do.


As far as the LTE goes, I'm willing to bet, Mr. Ross, that there's considerably less wide open space to dump the garbage in Germany compared to in the American midwest. While I realize that Larrytown is full of snooty folks who hate all things American and think we should copy everything the Europeans do (despite the fact that the vast majority of our ancestors came here precisely because they didn't want to do things the way the Europeans did), there are plenty of us who realize that we're talking about two different places and two different cultures and there's no reason to live a single lifestyle.

RedwoodCoast 5 years, 8 months ago

Hmmm... might this system reduce the cost of waste disposal and the fill rate of landfills? And getting fined if you don't participate! That surely raises the hackles of the many anti-socialist posters on this site. Even if it would most likely be a fiscally-efficient means of operation, we can't even consider it without turning into another Russia or China, right? It's the principle of the thing, not the logic of it!

By the way, it seems like I remember reading something a few years back about this same sort of system being implemented in Newton, KS. If I remember correctly, it was done as a cost-cutting plan. Personally, I liked the system in California, where recycling is actually incentivized by the cash refund you can get on glass and some plastics. Hey, I would be perfectly happy if someone picked up my recyclables once or twice a week. In fact, I've actually paid someone to do so in the past.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

It looks like Germany is outsourcing its electrical needs to other countries that use nuclear power. Kind of a NIMBY approach. "If Germany proceeds with its nuclear phase-out policy and maintains carbon emission reductions, by about 2020 it will need to import some 25,000 MWe of electricity as base-load. The country already has significant interconnection with France, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic and Switzerland. Connection with Kaliningrad (if a 2000 MWe Russian nuclear plant is built there) is likely. So increased nuclear capacity in several of those neighbouring countries - and pre-eminently France - could easily, by 2020, supply 25,000 MWe through much-expanded interconnection. This would put Germany in 2020 in much the same position as Italy today, being dependent on neighbours for electricity (which would be mostly nuclear) and a price-taker." http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf43.html

bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

so, ultimately, this letter writer thinks my time should go to sorting my trash.

I have a better idea: if its that important to him, I want him to take his time and sort my trash!

using a fine system to enslave people into some greenie wheenie vision. is this really going to make us a more efficient community or more efficient nation? naw.

as to the "resource hog" reference above, you greenie wheenies who site that america uses more of the raw materials and earth resources always conveniently overlook: we feed more of the world than any other country by far. We innovate more than any other country. our economy even today outperforms all other economies in the developed world.

LogicMan 5 years, 8 months ago

"If we had 350 million Germans in this country, we could do this and a lot more good things. But we don't ..."

No, only 60 million or so here.

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

"is this really going to make us a more efficient community or more efficient nation? naw."

Using resources more efficiently would not make us more efficient?

Have you ever considered, gnome, how much you may let your bias go to your brain on some of these issues?

Personally, though, I think Japan's model is better, from everything I've heard. They have a small base tax for public collection, then they tax the larger contributors to pick up of anything past the weekly allotment paid for by the base tax. So those who consume the most, dispose the most, then pay the most. All of this forced equality of our public tax here in America, that sounds like Socialism, doesn't it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

What's stopping you, Pilgrim? Go ahead and sell the stuff on the open market.


"I do. If payment is offered, that's where my stuff goes. If not, it goes in the trash."

So what's your complaint? You're already sorting your trash, and even if there was curbside recycling, if you still wanted to sell your recycled items to the highest bidder rather than have the city haul it off, you still could.

imastinker 5 years, 8 months ago

So tax me. I'll start burning my trash - and I already recycle.

salad 5 years, 8 months ago

Pilgrim2, STRS, and other knee-jerk "whatever the govt. does has to be bad" ilk, are just lazy; throw it away and back to my easy chair and cheetos. They also don't wanna give up their cooshy govt. handout. They feel they have the god-given right to throw away as much trash as they want: all for free. Fee for service is fine for others, but not them. They're also anti-job, since increasing recycling will require more workers. I've lived in Germany a couple different times and their system is fantastic! It's totally easy to use, reduces spilled and blowing trash, reduces landfill needs, creates a revenue stream. The govt. provides you the different types of containers, the trash trucks have automated weighing devices and the trash guys have handheld scanners that log data and send you your bill in the mail. If you wanna pay less, throw away less. They even have a "big trash" day where you can put out old applicances and stuff and they'll haul it away with a special truck as part of your normal service. It's totally sensible.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 8 months ago

Would it really be that difficult to sort your recyclables if you had seperate containers for them so you just toss them there instead of all together? I'd be delighted to have recyclable pick-up. I automatically sort when I dispose of stuff. Getting to the recycling center is what I find to be a hassle.

salad 5 years, 8 months ago

"I'd be delighted to have recyclable pick-up. I automatically sort when I dispose of stuff. Getting to the recycling center is what I find to be a hassle."

ditto

Because you have to separate everything, they also take glass at the curb in Germany.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 8 months ago

"jonas_opines (Anonymous) says… Using resources more efficiently would not make us more efficient?"

Care to cite a cost/benefit analysis? Make sure it includes time spent sorting recycled materials by both workers and citizens.

salad 5 years, 8 months ago

"Care to cite a cost/benefit analysis? Make sure it includes time spent sorting recycled materials by both workers and citizens."

Pointless excercise, quite frankly, since Germany has no choice but to recycle to conserve landfill space, and the US is rapidly approaching the same. However, if the infrastructure to recycle on a nationwide scale is in place, then the savings are HUGE. Glass alone is worth it in energy savings: it take 1/2 the energy to smelt cullet (recycled glass) as it does to smelt sand. Aluminum is a similar cost savings, since it takes a huge amount of Bauxite to make a pound of aluminum metal. As far as time spent sorting by citizens??? Your grandparents would have called this a civic duty and would be shaking their heads that you even posed the question! My parents did it for free all the time during WWII. Yet somehow you people nowadays seem to think they should be compensated at every turn.....

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

"Care to cite a cost/benefit analysis?"

Was that an answer to my question? It appears to be another question. If that was your way of saying that recycling is less efficient, according to cost-benefit analysis of various supply options, I would say that from what I've heard it's somewhat more expensive in terms of short term cost to source from recycled goods (for the time being) but I don't know the specific numbers. So if you would care to cite a source if that's your assertion I'd be interested in looking at it. I would add, as well, that the fixation on short term cost/benefit analysis is precisely the reason the free market has been shown unable to deal with anything related to environment impact or resource depletion. The associated costs/benefits include many that are too removed and too abstract to fit onto a balance sheet, or even to be allocated correctly, giving a skewed picture. In that regards, notajayhawk had the most accurate point, it's happening in Germany because they're out of space, and it's not happening here because we're not yet. But logic shows that if you use resources, including space, faster than they are renewed, you will eventually reach the level of constraint and then full depletion. Do you disagree with that?

"Make sure it includes time spent sorting recycled materials by both workers and citizens."

Isn't the point that it would be done by citizens and not workers, according to the above-proposed model? I would suggest that it would result in virtually no change in time spent disposing of garbage by an average citizen, as the only thing changing is which bucket you drop something in, and perhaps a short time spent thinking about which bucket it's supposed to go in. At least, that doesn't take me very long. Guess I can't say that universally.

Anyway, that's enough on a model that I don't think is very feasable. What about the one I actually said was good?

Sigmund 5 years, 8 months ago

This is a solution in search of a problem and the Germans, having lots of experience with happy faced fascism (recycle, or face the ovens) have had various "final solutions" for all their problems whether ecological or economical.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 8 months ago

"jonas_opines (Anonymous) says… But logic shows that if you use resources, including space, faster than they are renewed, you will eventually reach the level of constraint and then full depletion. Do you disagree with that?"

In a free market system? Yes, I disagree.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"In a free market system? Yes, I disagree."

You see, jonas opines, the Free Market is actually an alternate universe where the laws of physics and other constraints on mere mortals don't apply. If you were a true capitalist believer, you could be free of such constraints, as well.

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

Yes, apparently.

Could you elaborate, glockowner? That seemed to be quite a logical statement of reality and mathematics. I guess I'm missing how adding the free market to the mix will change that, at least in any basic sense.

badger 5 years, 8 months ago

Austin's got awesome single-stream recycling. Every homeowner gets two trash bins, a big one for recycling and one about half that size for trash. The recycling bin takes glass, all recyclable plastics, cardboard, paper, newspaper, and cans. The truck picks it up and takes it to the recycling facility, where people participating in various 'welfare to work' programs sort it. My apartment complex just put in several single-stream bins we can use; I just keep two trash cans, one for recyclables and one for other waste. I recycle about two-thirds of my trash, and give a lot of my vegetable waste to a friend who pays me back in compost for my patio garden.

For every bag of non-recyclable trash that doesn't fit in the half-size trash can, you have to buy a tag (just a few bucks, no major hardship if you're doing a major spring cleaning or something) or the trucks won't take it. As time goes on, the 'trash' can is expected to just keep getting smaller and the fees for extra trash will just keep getting higher, to pressure people into using the recycling.

A lot of people resisted the bin size changes, but it's amazing how well most people adjusted to it. My only real problem with it is that my 'trash' can fills up so slowly that I have to take the trash out before it's half-full or it starts to smell. I'm generating less than half a bag of trash each week.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 8 months ago

Okay, Marion, your one source says that recycling plastics is not more cost-effective than producing new. What about paper? Glass?

Tony Kisner 5 years, 8 months ago

What a rip-off I thought this was an article about that chick married to Seal. With pics.

Jeff Kilgore 5 years, 8 months ago

There are two ugly, deep, Texas-sized floating dumps in the Pacific Ocean. They will be there for centuries as mankind adds to them. The may contain 100 million tons of garbage. The link:

The idea of forced recycling is appealing to me because otherwise, humans cannot appreciate the level of trash they produce, which has to be put somewhere. Asking people to sort their own trash seems ludicrously obvious. What are we leaving after our time? Do we care?

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