It may not be a fun topic to think about, but it's time to ponder what we're going to do with all the trash we generate. Sure, we've got a nice place to pile it that isn't doing too bad right now. But eventually that pile is going to run out of room. What then?
Enter the Lincoln-Lancaster County Solid Waste Plan 2040. It's actually not a "plan" at this point, but rather a plan to come up with a plan that will guide future policy. That may sound redundant, but it's a necessary step in what will likely be a lengthy and non-trivial process. It's not as simple say saying, for example, When our current landfill is full, just start a new one somewhere else. Well, I suppose it could be that simple. We could save ourselves headaches over the long-term by not taking such a naive approach.
This planning process is where the rumors originated that Lincoln was going to "require" recycling -- with the implication being that Mayor Beutler himself would sort through your trash can and scold you if he found recyclables. That's not an option on the table right now. Instead, Lincoln could, say, require garbage hauling companies to offer recycling services as part of their regular pick-up schedule. Or we could require those same companies to bundle recycling services into their lowest service tier, whether a particular customer wants it or not. In that scenario everybody would subsidize recycling efforts, bringing the overall cost down but jacking up everybody's bills in the process.
We don't have to stop at recyclables, either. Lincoln could begin curbside composting efforts, perhaps as a requirement but more likely as an optional service. That would mean that your styrofoam, your paper, and your banana peels would each have separate bins.
The goal of all of this is of course to reduce the amount of waste going into our landfill so that we take as long as possible before moving into a new one. It's the ecologically, morally, and fiscally sound thing to do. Not that everyone will see it that way, of course. But then, that's what the planning process is all about. There's an open house on August 13 and several other opportunities to provide your feedback. The sooner you get involved, the better.