The report by the Citizens Budget Commission, “A Better Way to Pay for Solid Waste Management,” concludes that such a program would provide an economic incentive to reduce non-recyclable and non-compostable waste. It also would lower taxpayer cost for waste service, according to the report.
A variable fee system, the study states, would make the service cost visible to consumers; it would encourage reducing waste; it would provide an independent source of financing; and it would be fair, charging consumers based on their commitment to recycling and waste reduction.
The study also acknowledges the challenges of such a program. It could prompt increased illegal dumping. Large apartment buildings would pose particular problems. It could be perceived as a new tax. Also, a garbage fee system could present some burdens to low-income households without the benefit of a rebate or offset.
It also discusses managing such a program, such as the size of the fee, how it would governed and ways to implement.
“New York City’s solid waste management practices are in need of reform. The public cost of collecting trash is double that of the private sector, and public disposal of non-recyclable waste in faraway landfills generates great fiscal and environmental costs,” the report concludes. Implementing a volume-based waste user fee, “New Yorkers would have a greater financial stake in limiting garbage production, properly sorting recyclables and potentially organics, and understanding the costs of removing their trash.
“New York City can do better with its garbage policies, and that begins with how residents pay for disposal.”