Dear Tico Times:
Will somebody please help us mystified folk understand the thinking that produced the decision to reduce garbage collection from two days per week to just once per week? The added requirement to use only clear plastic bags is sort of understandable if people will, in the spirit of recycling, divide their garbage into paper, plastic, glass and metal. However, it should be understood that reducing the number of collection days will not, in fact, reduce the amount of garbage.
The issue of increasing concern is the burgeoning accumulation of garbage along our roadways. Roaming dogs, wild animals and birds all contribute to the problem by tearing open bags that now are sitting for as much as a week in the collection bins.
A neighbor reported seeing 12 vultures feasting on ours. It took 30 minutes working with disposable gloves to clean up the rotting meat scraps, bones, food wrappers and wastepaper strewn about after their banquet. We do acknowledge an extraordinary advantage to the use of clear plastic garbage bags – the dogs and vultures will be able to see which bags to tear open and which ones to ignore.
We have heard that the municipality’s decision to cut back on garbage service was a cost-cutting measure to reduce the budget. The idea was to diminish the total hours paid as well as fuel costs by 50 percent. At first glance, it seems like sound economics. However, upon further review, other factors require consideration.
For example, due to the increased weight of the amount of refuse at each stop, plus the repetitive lifting of at least four bags (paper, plastic, glass and metal) at each stop, the rate of injuries to backs, shoulders and arms will skyrocket. There will be more workers’ compensation expenses, more cost to the Social Security System for medical treatment and also the cost of hiring more men to replace those who are injured. As the refuse handlers realize how much harder they have to work, and their increased risk for injury, they will want higher wages. This could result in a nationwide garbage pick-up strike.
If you want to see what happens when garbage collectors go on strike, Google Naples, Italy, where there has been no garbage collected for two months. The roads are lined by windrows of stinking, rotting garbage – including those nasty disposable diapers – eight feet high stretching for miles. Small outbreaks of typhus have been reported, as well as tularemia. Tourism is at an all-time low. Estimated revenue losses from all sources already exceed by tens of millions of dollars the total cost of the wage hike requested by the Italian workers.
Do governments ever learn? Will Costa Rica make the same mistake? Vamos a ver.