California’s Alameda County has voted to impose a $9.55 per house fee for hazardous waste disposal. The fee is not optional and the funds will go to keep the counties hazardous waste disposal drop-off facilities open and will even allow for an expansion in hours. Officials as well as residents have been debating this fee, which only narrowly passed. Supporters of the fee assert that it will do an immense amount of good for the environment while critics believe that the hazardous waste management program is not effective and, therefore, does not warrant the measure.
Hazardous Waste in Alameda County
Currently, Alameda County allows drivers to drop off their hazardous waste three days a week at its facilities. The lines are long, but the waste needs a safe place to be disposed. Drivers show up with oil cans, paints, and even insecticides. While lugging these items to a disposal center may seem like a nuisance, it’s essential to keep hazardous wastes out of the regular trash. With the passing of the fee, the disposal centers will be able to expand their hours. The fee will deliver the waste management program with an extra $5 million to provide its services.
Critics of the Program
Many citizens not only resent the additional fee they will have to pay, but that the hazardous waste agency even exists. Taxpayers assert that they can often drop off hazardous waste materials at home improvement centers and other places. They question why the agency actually needs $5 million. Many people wrote in to voice their opinion before the vote. A number of critics suggested that the agency was losing money because it couldn’t support itself with more and more CA residents practicing better recycling measures. With less materials going to landfills, the agency also receives less money in return. Without the funds, however, the agency says it would have to nearly reduce itself by half.
The Importance of Proper Hazardous Waste Management
Motor oil, paints, pesticides, and other hazardous materials can have a devastating effect of the environment. When these materials find their way into gutters, storm drains, and the trash, the wildlife suffers. While some residents don’t mind waiting in line to drop off their unwanted hazardous materials, other people find it far more convenient to allow junk haulers to remove their toxic materials and dispose of them properly. As long as the waste gets to where it needs to go for proper disposal or recycling, it stays out of the dumps and places it can do serious ecological damage. Alameda’s County’s hazardous waste staff accepts materials that many chain stores do not. In this regard, it does fulfill a need.
While nobody in the argument is suggesting that hazardous waste disposal is unimportant, many believe that it should be left to the private sector to deal with. The argument has inspired many voters to get involved, and many are now angry over the vote they believe has not represented their views. While the hazardous waste department will be extending hours, many residents still prefer to have their materials picked up by a private firm. These residents are particularly upset by the fee as they choose not use the county’s facilities. The vote has become a hot-button issue, so it will likely be talked about for some time to come.
O’ Brien, Matt, “Alameda County adopts $9.95-per-home fee for household hazardous waste disposal” – San Jose Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_25905614/alameda-county-adopts-9-55-per-home-fee)
Fast Haul, Inc. “Fast Haul Supports Green Hauling & Electronic Recycling” – http://www.fasthaul.com/, http://www.fasthaul.com/green-hauling-recycling.html