Trash: Out of Site – Out of Mind?

Overview: Our city, Wichita, has a population of the combined metro area pushing half a million. Daily, the trash generated per capita is 7.1 pounds, compared to the national average of 4.4 pounds, and our landfill is full, stuffed with 1,500 tons of garbage each day. What can be done about the garbage we produce, and how can this wasteful public attitude be changed?
Ideas to Consider:

1. Pay-As-You-Throw: Charging for each item or bag put out for disposal. Will it force consumers to be more conscious of what they discard?
2. Reduce Volume: Reduce the size of containers, or allow pickups less frequently. Do large containers encourage more trash?
3. What’s a Tipping Fee?: The cost to haulers locally is about $15.00 per ton, which will rise as new technologies are introduced or landfills are located farther away. Will increased fees result in less trash?
4. Compost: Grass clippings and tree limbs account for 20% of landfill capacity. If composting is easy, why don’t more people do it?
5. Up in Smoke: Plasma torches and other incineration technology is getting the cold shoulder in many areas due to lack of trash to keep them going. Is energy generation an acceptable trade-off for cleaner air?
6. Recycle: Who is going to sort all the stuff out? Some propose putting prisoners to work sorting the recyclable items. What are the pros and cons?
7. Changing our Attitudes: What can we do as consumers to reduce the trash we generate? What would happen if we demanded less packaging, or more products made from totally recycled material? If people create garbage, do we need less people? Should we expect the government to fix the problem? What are we willing to give up?

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