Brooklyn Boro

New proposal would charge homes for amount of trash produced

September 24, 2019 Scott Enman
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The city highlighted on Friday a series of new proposals that could raise or save millions of dollars, while also potentially reducing water and air pollution and the amount of trash entering landfills.

The plans, developed by the city’s Independent Budget Office, range from fining drivers for idling to creating a local carbon tax to implementing a “pay-as-you-throw” waste disposal program.

Doug Turetsky of IBO stressed that the six proposals are merely ideas, and that residents and their lawmakers would be responsible for choosing to enact, amend or reject them.

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“As with any of the ideas considered in our Budget Options for New York City, we lay out key pros and cons for implementing the measures, leaving it up to the public and policymakers to decide what they think makes sense to pursue,” Turetsky told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Related: City begins fining businesses for using single-use foam products

The most drastic option, and one that would save the city an estimated $367 million annually, is the “pay-as-you-throw” program. Households would be charged for the amount of non-recyclable garbage they produce, similar to the model used for water, gas and electricity bills.

Each residential unit would pay an average of $107 annually for waste disposal. If a home were to reduce its waste by 15 or 30 percent, for example, its costs would be reduced to $91 or $75 per year respectively. “If a household throws away less, it pays less,” the proposal states.

Other cities across the nation, like San Francisco and Seattle, have implemented similar programs and have seen reductions of up to 35 percent in the amount of garbage put out for collection, according to IBO.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is reportedly exploring introducing the program here in New York City, but the budget office acknowledged there are several potential pitfalls.

Because two-thirds of New Yorkers live in multi-family buildings and subsequently throw their waste in communal bins, it could be difficult to measure the volume of garbage each household produces.

The idea could, therefore, be tested in one-, two- and three-family homes, which would still save the city roughly $118 million.

Other conceivable consequences include burdening low-income residents and the potential proliferation of illegal dumping, which would require an increase in enforcement that could offset any savings.

Related: New York bans plastic bags on Earth Day

Other environmentally related budget measures put forth by IBO include implementing a $15 fee on non-recyclable bulk items like mattresses, couches and furniture, which would produce $43 million for the city.

Similarly, a carbon tax collected by electric, gas and heating oil companies would raise $157 million per year for the city and encourage residents to use less energy or to invest in more sustainable sources.

The city agency also suggested applying a stormwater utility fee on all households, as well as properties that do not currently pay water costs, such as garages, parking lots and vacant land. That strategy, if implemented, would create roughly $88 million a year, while also offsetting the Department of Environmental Protection’s $350 million stormwater management costs.

Another option, though it would only produce $1 million a year, includes fining drivers for idling. Currently, motorists are given several warnings before being fined, but the proposed idea would allow traffic enforcement agents to issue a ticket without prior notice.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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