Rising Garbage Costs

Published in the Hollister Free Lance, September 22, 1997
Dear Editor:

Ken Capuli's letter in the September 19 Free Lance took the words right out of my mouth -- almost. We agree that paying more for less is ridiculous. It's not so much that the price increase is unreasonable -- on an annualized basis, that's about a 3.45% increase per year -- but that we're also getting less service -- one can instead of unlimited pickup.

We both also are upset at Frank Slykas' comments on the service, which are, well, garbage. Mr. Capuli already pointed out the unbelievable comment that going to one 64-gallon can will encourage us to recycle "in the least restrictive way", so I'd like to point out some of the comments Mr. Slykas (and others) made that seem equally ridiculous. They all come from the September 16 Free Lance.

First, Mr. Slykas claimed that moving from unlimited pick-up to a single-can system would allow using a more efficient mechanical system. While I have no problem with going to standard 64-gallon cans, why can't we have more than one can per household? That would allow mechanical pick-up while still keeping the same service level we have now.

Paying $2.50 for a tag to mark additional cans with seems burdensome. Am I supposed to guess ahead of time that I'm going to need more cans, or am I supposed to let garbage sit around my house for a week?

Second, he also claimed that the company "lost" $1 million in the 10 years the city did not require all residents to have garbage service. Is Mr. Slykas claiming that the company didn't know before they signed the last contract that the city didn't require that? That seems highly unlikely.

If Hollister Disposal knew before signing the contract that not all residents had to have garbage pick-up, they haven't "lost" anything. At worst, they may have over-estimated their revenues because they assumed more people would have garbage service than actually did.

But that is not the City's fault, so their "plea for equity" -- which translates to a 15-year contract instead of 10 -- seems unwarranted.

Lastly, let's consider recycling. A city staff report supposedly said a curbside recycling program would do little to reduce garbage going to the landfill. Is this for real?

When I lived in San Jose, we threw almost everything in the garbage. When San Jose instituted curbside recycling, I started recycling newspapers, cardboard, bottles, lawn clippings, and other items. Since I've moved to Hollister, those go in the garbage again (although I occasionally recycle newspapers and cardboard).

If curbside recycling would not reduce garbage going to the landfill, is city staff claiming that they separate our recyclables from the rest of our garbage, or are they claiming that so many people already recycle that there would be little impact? If neither of those is true, how can curbside recycling NOT help?

If city staff is correct, and curbside recycling won't reduce landfill usage, then Mr. Slykas' comment that moving to a single-can system will induce recycling is even more ridiculous. It sounds like we're being hoodwinked.

As I said, I don't mind the rate increase, but let's increase service instead of decreasing it. Let's have full curbside recycling -- newspapers, cardboard, cans, bottles, green waste, and hazardous materials (batteries, motor oil, paints, etc.).

And regarding hazardous materials, if these items are so hazardous, why should I have to keep them around my house for three months waiting for the quarterly drop-off periods? It seems like a weekly pick-up would be much safer. I wonder how many people just throw those things into the garbage instead of waiting for the next drop-off time, and then being inconvenienced by having to drive to one and wait in line.

So let's make it easy to remember

I'll be anxiously awaiting Hollister Disposal's response to Mr. Capuli's letter and this one. I just hope that this time they'll treat us as intelligent people, instead of trying to pull one over on us.

UPDATE: Hollister did implement garbage limits, but at least added an optional recycling program. They are considering making recycling mandatory.


Want to comment on this? E-mail me at [steve@svpocketpc.com].