As goes my rubbish pick-up, so goes America

As I write today’s NewsCut, I’m watching a trash hauler work its way down the avenue. Shortly, there’ll be another driving too fast in a rush to make all of its pick-ups. Then another, making a racket down the street, the repairs for which I’ll be paying an assessment on for another 13 years.

It’d be OK with me if the home city selected just one rubbish hauler, but, as the Star Tribune points out in an article today on attempts elsewhere to do so, it’s clear we are incredibly invested in the disposal of our trash.

A few years ago in Maplewood, as I recall, people invoked their right and freedom of choice in its bid to repel a move to select an official trash hauler for the town. The city became the first in Minnesota to limit trash collection to just one hauler.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency figures Maplewood saved over $1 million. The city council member who pushed the idea was voted out of office.

“I don’t think we’ve had any cities that have tried this and people didn’t show up to throw a fit,” Craig Johnson, a lobbyist for the League of Minnesota Cities, told the Star Tribune’s John Reinan. “It’s a very controversial issue.”

Bloomington is the latest community to go with a single-hauler, amid promises it’ll save the average homeowner about $100 a year.

The response was predictable.

The Legislature in 2013 passed a law laying out a process for cities that want to adopt organized collection. It was passed with the support of the hauling industry, yet haulers have continued to “subvert” organized collection, Verbrugge said.

In Bloomington, a group called Garbage Haulers for Citizen Choice aggressively fought the city’s efforts, mailing out glossy, four-color fliers and other information. John Kysylyczyn, a spokesman for the group, said the local and regional haulers have always supported open collection.

“There’s something called freedom in this country,” he said. “The garbage haulers have the right to speak up on behalf of their customers.”

Opponents say local businesses would be pushed out if bidding came down to them vs. big corporations. That’s a fair point, except in the suburbs where people regularly have ignored local businesses to support huge chains.

Why is trash collection where people want to draw the line?