Enforcement, income, and a long-term contingency plan. Those are some of the things the Haines solid waste working group said should be taken into account as they look at the big picture of how Haines should deal with its trash.
The group’s ultimate goal is to form a solid waste management plan. But there are still a lot of questions about what that would look like. One of them is whether the borough might contract with a private company to enact mandatory trash pickup. Right now each household is left to their own devices when it comes to disposing trash.
Interim borough manager Brad Ryan said the borough needs direction about what role it might play.
“Some direction on how we’re going to be involved in solid waste. Is it going to be an ordinance? What is the plan are we going to enact?” asked Ryan.
Mandatory trash pickup worries community members who don’t generate a lot of waste after burning, recycling and composting.
Committee member Philip Reeves echoed that concern.
“You start saying I’ve got to pay so much a month to have every two weeks someone come around and pick up a garbage can, I won’t use that service. I’ll pay for it but I won’t use it,” said Reeves.
He suggested having a voucher that would give residents the flexibility to choose what option they wanted.
Melissa Aronson represents the Haines Friends of Recycling. She said implementing a blanket tax for trash pickup would be messy. And practically, she has a hard time envisioning a trash can in front of her house for garbage collection.
“In the summer bears and dogs and ravens are tipping it over and where I’m producing no litter, now I’m producing litter,” said Aronson. “And in the winter it’s going to blow over.”
Aronson came to the meeting with a list of possible goals for the committee to work from. Many were centered on recycling or reducing litter. They include providing trash and recycling collection areas along the Haines Highway, strengthening and enforcing regulations against backyard burning of toxic materials, and holding annual collection events for things like electronics and hazardous waste.
“So there’s a lot of ways in which we could expand the services we provide that would cut down on the waste a whole lot,” said Aronson.
She also suggested providing incentives for recycling. Sally Garton, from Community Waste Solutions said she wants to see the solid waste plan take income into account.
“If it’s going to be an individual person rate, or a per-household rate, we need to consider the senior citizens,” said Garton. “We need to consider the disabled, and the low income families.”
And, she said there needs to be a focus on enforcement.
“Even though we have something, how will it be enforced? Or what steps will be taken to prevent,” said Garton.
Reilly Kosinski represents the Chamber of Commerce in the group. He’s also on the Haines Friends of Recycling board. He said they need to be thinking further into the future.
“No landfill lasts forever,” said Kosinski. “So what is the borough going to do to protect themselves when the landfill is full. What’s the contingency plan?”
Garton said the landfill has been in operation since the 1970s and they have not yet used half of it.
The group plans to use these goals and suggestions to start outlining their solid waste management plan. Their next meeting is scheduled for February 6.