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Sometime in the future, how much Charlotte homeowners pay for waste collection could be determined by the amount of garbage they put out.
Currently, there is an annual flat fee of $62 ($47 for the city; $15 for the county) for waste collection.
But that could change.
The idea is called 'pay-as-you-throw' - if you generate a lot of garbage, you'll pay more for collection; if you don't have a lot of garbage, you'll pay less. Council Member John Autry says it's a different model that could lead to better recycling.
Autry says the city currently hauls its waste to a landfill in Cabarrus County. He's worried that as the city grows, there won't be any place for garbage.
For Autry, who is chair of the City Council's Environmental Committee, pay-as-you-throw could force Charlotteans to think about the amount of trash they generate.
"Personally I would rather pay a flat fee and not have to worry about different prices" says Charlotte resident Marshall Morris. "So you kinda know that when they pick up trash, it's always a set fee."
Autry says the idea is only on the radar but city staff have been doing some fact finding.
According to information from the city's Solid Waste Services, pay as you throw could generate revenue and pay for waste collection. It could result in a reduction in waste and an increase in recycling.
Council member Autry says he would like to see the Charlotte move towards composting and zero recycling.
But pay-as-you-throw has some negatives. Waste collection trucks would have to be outfitted with scales to weigh the garbage collected, or the city would have to buy specific size containers. The city's research found it could also lead to illegal dumping by people trying to avoid paying fees.
Autry says bringing pay-as-you-throw to Charlotte is only in the infant stage of research. For it to become reality, Autry says the city would need adjustments to state laws.