Potential costs outweigh benefits

Each HDB household currently pays $8.25 a month for waste regardless of the amount thrown away.
Each HDB household currently pays $8.25 a month for waste regardless of the amount thrown away.PHOTO: ST FILE

Fortunately, the National Environment Agency has no immediate plan to introduce a "pay as you throw" waste disposal system ('Pay-as-you-throw' system to limit household waste?, March 15).

If residents were forced to pay as they throw, it would likely result in widespread dumping of trash in places such as common corridors and lift lobbies, causing an obstruction and creating fire hazards.

The system is also unfair to large families and low-income households. Would the Government give subsidies to the low-income and the elderly if "pay as you throw" was introduced?

"Pay as you throw" will not solve the waste-disposal problem.

The majority of trash cannot be recycled because it is composed of organics and unrecyclable paper and plastic. This trash won't just go away, if it doesn't go into the chute.

Instead, it will move elsewhere, often to public areas.

We should not shift the burden away from town councils to residents.

It is also misleading to compare trash collection with metered utilities because sanitation is a service provided in the interest of public health.

If a resident chooses to use less water, it doesn't harm his neighbour, but if garbage is not disposed of properly due to "pay as you throw", it hurts everyone.

If "pay as you throw" were to be enforced, it would create an administrative inconvenience as staff and closed-circuit television cameras would need to be deployed to monitor illegal dumping at refuse collection points.

These costs may outweigh the levy collected.

Instead, town councils should install recycle bins on every floor. Encourage residents to recycle using a soft approach, and not the hard tactic of "pay as you throw".

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'Potential costs outweigh benefits'. Subscribe