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Plan Would Charge NYC Residents To Have Garbage Picked Up To Encourage Recycling

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Some say a proposed new plan is about garbage is a bunch of garbage itself, while others think it might be an environmental turning point.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, New York City is exploring a new way to get people to recycle by charging them to have their garbage picked up.

It was just another day Monday, and a busy one, at the Hamilton Avenue Garbage Transfer Station in Brooklyn. From there, trash is put on a barge and shipped out of state – at a cost to the city of $300 million per year.

For that reason, the city is now exploring ways to charge for trash. It is a way to get more people to recycle, and to save some of the Sanitation Department's $1.7 billion budget collecting and disposing of waste.

"There's a huge cost to make everything disappear every day," said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

The city has hired a consultant, paying $1 million to design a so-called "save as you throw" program. If adopted, single-family homeowners, renters, and co-op and condo owners would pay.

It is unclear how. The 1,200 cities that currently have such programs in place charging $40 to $50 a month have different strategies.

"In other cities, they often use cans, or they do it by weight, or they use bags or tags," Garcia said. "Our real focus is what would be effective in incentivizing New Yorkers to recycle."

The commissioner likened water charges – when people saw their water bills, usage dropped dramatically.

"They don't take a half-an-hour shower," Garcia said. "They don't keep the water running while they're brushing their teeth."

Some were quick to trash the idea.

"Doesn't sound like a good idea," said Steve of Park Slope, Brooklyn. "We pay a lot of real estate taxes already.

"It's probably a good idea," said Rob Madell of Park Slope. "That seems fair. I assume it would be weight. The people who have more trash would have to pay more."

"I think New Yorkers already have enough of a burden paying their taxes," said Pura Migueliz of Whitestone, Queens. "I don't think we need anything else added on."

"Well, I think we pay enough taxes already, so I think that that should be standard, that the taxes that we pay should go for our trash collection," said Frank McCrae of Woodside, Queens. "So it really wouldn't make much sense to me to have us pay extra for trash removal."

Kramer asked Garcia if property taxes could be reduced if the fee were enacted.

"I'm not going to make that promise," she said.

One man told Kramer that if the city starts charging, he will put his garbage in an on-street trash basket.

The commissioner said the need for a stepped-up enforcement program would be one consideration if officials move forward.

The consultant is expected to have a more formal proposal within a year.

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