Hauling trash to Ogallala? Just be thankful we're not Hawaii
If you think it's ridiculous that McCook hires trucks burning $4.50 diesel fuel to haul two loads a day of trash to Ogallala, imagine if you lived on Oahu.
Hawaii's most populous island is looking to send some 100,000 tons of trash to the Mainland each year. If that seems like a lot of trash, consider that each Oahu resident produces 10 pounds of garbage a day, compared to a national U.S. average of 4.5 pounds. That could be because a lot of tourists visit Hawaii, and everyone who lives there consumes many products that have been packaged for long-distance shipment.
That 100,000 tons of trash is only about 6 percent of the island's trash.
Honolulu hopes shipping trash to the West Coast will give them time to expand their curbside reycling system, and construct another boiler like the two that already burn trash to produce electricity.
McCook is a long way from Hawaii, but we're facing a lot of the same issues, and only employing one or two of the same solutions.
We have a good recycling system, but only for those who choose to participate by sorting their recyclables and hauling them to the center on the southwest side of the city.
Curbside pickup certainly would increase participation, but only at the cost of more of that high-priced diesel fuel, plus the trucks and labor to get the materials to the recycling center.
The city made the decision years ago to close its solid waste disposal site after new regulations made it too expensive to maintain, expand or replace the old one that formerly existed just east of Walmart.
But all of us are having to re-examine everything we do in light of the new reality of high fuel prices. It's good we've had at least initial contact with other towns regarding the possibility of making some sort of new arrangement, perhaps even establishing a new landfull and sharing expenses.
Or, maybe we should look at some of the same solutions other towns have tried. Should we be destroying garbage by burning it and producing electricity in the bargain?
Unfortunately, that would involve another one of those expensive engineering studies.
And, we'd like to see solid waste disposal stay as a self-supporting enterprise fund in the McCook city budget.
But, surely, there must be a better, more efficient way of disposing of our trash.