I was disappointed to see that yet another community (Cape Elizabeth) is considering switching to a “pay-per-bag” waste disposal program. It is easy to understand why a town would find this desirable: attaching a cost to trash disposal should encourage more recycling and decrease the amount sent to landfills. The most common complaints arising from this type of program are the quality of the bags (which are kept cheap to save the municipality funds), bag size (standardized and usually small), and bag availability (found only at certain stores).
Perhaps there is a more efficient method to attain the town’s goals and keep the citizens content. I would suggest, and those I have spoken with agree, a system where the town would issue either stamps or twist ties with a tag on them that must be attached to every bag of waste to identify said bag as paid. Under this system citizens could attach a tag or stamp to the bag brand and quality of their choice. The town could approve and set a fee for several different sizes of bags, each with a corresponding color of tag/stamp. These tags or stamps would be cheaper to produce and could be sold in more places around town. People generally tend not to like pay-per-bag systems, yet if a town feels the need to implement a fee system and goes with stamps or tags, perhaps it would be more agreeable with their constituency.
S. Wyatt Ross