I read in the Oakville Call last night that some residents of south Saint Louis County are so upset about a proposal to establish trash districts that they are considering breaking away from the county and forming a new county. The big fuss is that individuals will no longer have the ability to contract with any waste hauler they want. I’m not sure about you, but forming a new county over something like this seems a bit extreme to me.
I have never lived in an area where I was responsible for picking my own trash company which is why I don’t really see this as a big deal. Establishing trash districts in the unincorporated areas of Saint Louis County actually sounds like a great idea to me. The trash companies will have to adhere to standards of service and will have to bid for the business. The companies will compete with each other to get the business which will drive down prices. In the process, some mom and pop waste haulers may lose residential business because they cannot meet the demands of an entire district, but that does not mean they will go out of business. They will have to adjust and focus on other business that they can compete for and win. I know that in the Aurora, Illinois area where I grew up, there are a ton of successful small waste haulers even though the city contracts with a large firm to collect the residential waste from its 170,000 plus residents. There is no reason the same thing can’t happen here.
If the proposal does go through, I would like the County to institute some requirements for recycling, and those requirements are that the waste hauler will provide recycling bins for each house and that they will pick it up for free. The money they make from recycling will help offset the cost of collecting the materials, and it is the right thing to do for the environment. All the cities in which I have lived in Illinois and California have always had recycling programs, and Saint Louis County needs to do its fair share. Perhaps the County can also require that the waste haulers must provide standard trash and recycling bins for every house in each district. That way, they can use automated trucks to collect the waste. This works incredibly well in San Diego, and it made trash day so much easier.
My vote is for the trash districts to be established so we can all benefit from standards and economies of scale.