Yard Waste Hits The Curb

Handling yard waste is "a choice be-tween doing it cheap and doing it right," says Wilsonville, Ore., spokesman Dave Kanner.

Wilsonville and other communities in the Portland metropolitan area face a July 1, 1994 deadline for implementing a yard waste recycling program.

Yard waste totals about one-fourth of the solid waste that leaves the Portland area for disposal at a landfill operated by Waste Management Inc. in Arlington, Ore.

Portland Metro predicts that by 1996 it will reduce yard waste disposal at landfills by 90 percent or more.

City officials mulled over several options: establishing drop-off points; picking up at curbside from residents' 32-gallon cans; or issuing residents a 90-gallon roll can to be filled with yard waste and set out at the curb once a week.

The council finally decided that the latter approach - curbside pick-up from city-issued cans - was the easiest to manage and probably would do more to keep yard waste away from landfills.

Unfortunately, the city's choice turned out to be the priciest plan. As a result, households can expect an increase in their garbage-service rates from $13 a month to at least $17 a month when the yard waste collection begins sometime in the spring.

Residents face rate increases from yet another source: scheduled hikes in the fees haulers pay Metro at the agency's transfer stations. But Wilsonville Mayor Jerry Krummel is working to merge the two price increases.

With the yard waste collection concept settled, city officials can now talk with United Disposal System, which holds the franchise within the city, to design a program and set prices.

Oh, Those Basil Highs. Elaine Moore once had a civics textbook notion about police searches: If the police ever had a reason to search her house, they'd come to her door and knock.

Being an assistant district attorney in Albuquerque, N.M., who works with the police, she figured they'd simply meet up with her at work and then head for home.

But when the time came, things took a different turn. Instead, the police decided to carry out a no-knock, no- warning raid. Thinking they would find marijuana, they kicked in her door. What they came up with was basil. It seems that Moore grows her own herbs.

Before breaking in, the officers say they peeked through a window and saw something (basil) that resembled marijuana.

But why, she asked, did the police think she was growing pot? They claimed that they relied on an informant: Moore's garbage man. He had peeked into her window one day and saw what he as-sumed was marijuana drying on a line.

Apparently, he didn't know the difference between condiments and contraband. And neither did police.

What went unexplained is why the trash collector was snooping at Moore's window in the first place. Checking her reefer-ences, perhaps?

Seeing Is Believing. Toyko residents are fuming over the city's new garbage bagging rule.

Under the rule, citizens must put all trash in clear plastic bags that carry the household's name.

The city generates 12,000 tons a day of solid waste that, for a long time, was sent to landfills for disposal. Shrinking landfill space forced the city to order residents and businesses to sort their trash into burnable and nonburnable groupings. Local waste managers figured that incinerated waste takes up less room in a landfill, while nonburnable materials can often be recycled.

Nevertheless, many people ig-nored the order and continued to toss nonburnables in with food wastes, creating a smelly and explosive situation at the incinerator.

Officials believe that the bag rule will force residents to be more careful about combining what they throw away, since the trash can be seen by city inspectors.

"It makes people take responsibility for their garbage, and makes it easier for us to fine people who don't do the right things," says Hajime Shoji, Tokyo's solid waste chief. But, he concedes, "We don't expect many people who throw away garbage improperly to write their names on the bags."

And what about nosy neighbors who want to peek into someone's trash? Not a garbage matter, he says dismissingly, "but [a question] of people's morals."

The Tokyo Branch of the Japan Communist Party is campaigning hard against the viewable waste rule. "Tokyo is trying to control people without trusting them," says Yoji Kimura, a local party official.

Widespread resistance forced the city's sanitation de-partment, the Bureau of Public Cleaning, to postpone the effective date of the new rule for several months.

Meanwhile, companies that sell document shredders are pressing businesses hard about how these ma-chines can cut down on loss of business secrets when office trash gets stuffed into clear bags.

if Wilsonville Mayor Jerry Krummel has things his way, residents won't have to deal with more than one price jump if the two increases can be merged.