Trash Problems in Bermuda – Bernews OpEd

Bermuda’s having some issues with trash collections, due to various reasons. Trash container

I can’t speak to the particular causes of the latest problems, but I thought the situation made for a useful segue to highlight some policies that I’ve put forward concerning residential trash, both in the 2012 General Election and in my submission to the SAGE Commission last year.

You can read over the policies in my OpEd over at Bernews.

Of course, they’re only an outline.

There’s only so much information (and words) one can fit in an OpEd without boring people with the minutiae of policy details and technical specs.  The aim is more to convey some ideas that can be developed.

All of the suggestions are already done elsewhere.  As much as I’d like to take credit for creating wholly new ideas, in this case I’ve looked at what works elsewhere and put forward those which I think would also work in Bermuda.

Quite frankly, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel, and we can learn from how these ideas work elsewhere.

I will note, after reviewing some of the comments on the Bernews OpEd, some points:

  • I would change the wording on the compost bit to simply ‘food waste’, as in including meat.  I don’t think it would make that big a problem, and it’s all compostable.
  • In addition to the curb-side composting, a focus should be on encouraging households to compost at home.  This isn’t going to be possible for everyone, but for many it will be.
  • Curb-side composting, yes, it has to be picked up pretty quickly otherwise it’ll stink.  However, it’ll no more stink than trash currently does containing food waste.
  • The ‘free’ container would already be paid for by the land tax.  Paying extra for extra trash space makes it so that those who produce more trash (or choose not to separate out recyclables, etc) pay more, helping to recuperate the added costs involved.  Right now, those who produce more, or don’t separate, increases the overall cost of trash collection for us all; the PAYT model seeks to remedy that.
  • Each container can be personally marked, including a serial number, for each residential unit involved, reducing the risk of theft to a degree.
  • These trash containers are used elsewhere; there’s risk of vandalism, but we can see from how they operate elsewhere how to deal with that.  I’d imagine their omnipresence, combined with fines, would be an effective way to minimise such risks.
  • In multi-unit complexes, a larger dumpster, with a 32-gallon container per capita equivalent can be introduced.
  • A bottle bill would work here (it works everywhere it’s in place, so no reason it wouldn’t work here), although the deposit value will have to be figured out to be effective in the Bermuda context.  I’d imagine that the 5 cent or 10 cent deposit value we see in the US would be too small for Bermuda; 25 cents is probably closer to what would work in Bermuda.  A policy analysis would be able to get the general figure, to be fine tuned as the policy is implemented and evaluated.

As I’ve said, these policies exist elsewhere.

Bottle bills exist in the Caribbean and North America (and elsewhere).

PAYT exists elsewhere, including North America and Europe.

Curbside composting exists throughout North America and Europe, including cities with roughly comparable climates to Bermuda, like San Francisco or north east Florida.

The trash containers I based the policy outline on is that I saw being used in Fife, Scotland, which now uses a four-bin waste collection system for trash, food and garden waste, paper and cardboard and plastics.

Quite frankly, these systems already exist elsewhere, and from all the evidence I’ve reviewed, it leads to a more efficient waste management system, including overall cost savings.

They exist, they work, and we can adapt them for the Bermuda context.

All it takes is the political will to actually act on them.

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One thought on “Trash Problems in Bermuda – Bernews OpEd

  1. I would be surprised if many of the substances we can buy in bottles, could not be bought in other types of containers.

    Maybe those who buy for the Supermarkets, for example, could start the move to stop buying bottled products in the first place?

    Over time, we “should”: be able to eliminate at least one waste product by not bringing it to the island in the first place.

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