Non-Recycling Residents Must Pay Fines
Cleveland, Ohio, can be considered by environmental enthusiasts as a green city because it shuns plastic water bottles and is listed as one of the top twenty-five most sustainable cities.
But now, arguments have popped up on how fair and how unfair (depending on whom you ask) it is that the city will fine residents who don’t recycle. The fine can amount to $100 per offense.
The city will begin to implement a high-tech trash system that sorts through residents' curbside trash to make sure that it doesn’t contain recyclable goods.
The high tech trash collection system will roll out in 2011.
Curbside trash and recycling carts will be embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes. The chips will allow city sanitation workers to monitor how often the residents roll the carts to the curb for collection. If a chip shows that a recycling cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a “trash supervisor” will sort through the trash for recyclables. If, during the subsequent search, trash carts reveal more than ten percent recyclable material in them, the fine could be up to a hundred dollars. To a Cleveland resident, or any resident in any city for that matter, a hundred dollars during a recession is a great deal of money, especially since an unmodified behavior will result in a repeated fine.
The question is, won't using fines to "force" people to comply with recycling programs generate more resentment and bitterness between those who do recycle and those who don't? Those who choose to recycle have specific reasons why they do so, but then again, those who don't recycle also have their reasons too. I have friends who recycle, and friends who don't. And the latter have said to me: "Non-recyclers are people too."
As obsessive-compulsive as I am when it comes to reduce, reuse, recycle — I time my showers to no more than 8 minutes with a timer so that I reduce my consumption of water and reduce my production of wastewater. I don't even wash my hair every day, just so I can save water — I am not comfortable with the idea of financially penalizing those who don't subscribe to my values because I know that penalties don't always work to deter, let alone eliminate, undesirable behavior. At the end, we might end up with a great deal of quarrel and very little change as non-recyclers, out of spite, figure out ways to escape the penalty by dumping their trash in places they shouldn't.