Bag fee could help clean up city

Published 6:36 am Friday, August 5, 2016

On Wednesday we reported two parish facilities would no longer take paper for recycling and the recycling center at the parish’s landfill is no longer taking plastic for recycling.

Although it is a shame there seem to be fewer recycling options available, it is hardly surprising. The recycling manager pointed out the landfill only accepts plastic labeled no. 1 or 2, but people wouldn’t follow the rules. In addition, plastic as a commodity is down — a result of low oil prices — so there’s less financial reward in the business overall.

The irony is, recycling is virtuous as it reduces waste, but it is not always practical and it is sometimes costly. Litter has been a big topic of late in Bogalusa. Trash, whether on the street or in a landfill is a public problem, and like everyone else, I would like to see less of it.

One way to see less litter that gets surprisingly little play is, use less stuff. It’s worth remembering that the slogan that’s perhaps associated most closely with recycling, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” includes two other suggestions before recycling.

One idea that might achieve more reduction is public policy.

For years now, across the nation, some cities have imposed a small tax on grocery store bags, thereby at once reducing their use and encouraging re-use. Earlier this year, New York’s city council passed a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags and, besides cleaning up the streets, the tax is expected to bring in extra revenue to grocery stores. In Washington, D.C., a similar tax is brining in steady revenue to the city and it’s helped reduce litter, according to advocates, and a survey found a 60 percent drop in the use of plastic grocery bags.

In some cities — like New York City — grocery store owners can keep the tax. This strategy presumably helps keep storeowners honest, but in other cities, like Washington, D.C., the city gets the funds to pay for cleanup. Perhaps in Bogalusa some combination of these strategies might be best, but it is hard to ignore the fact that we need cleanup funds.

I believe city officials who say cleaning up yards and condemned buildings is too costly and too time consuming. Our city is only finally operating in the black, and we can hardly afford extra expenses. However, it’s also clear that overgrown lots and crumbling, dangerous houses have to be cleaned up if we’re to expect anyone to want to move here or develop the area. We have a long list of necessary projects we don’t have funds for, and cleanup is high on that list. Besides, as I have pointed out elsewhere, outsourcing basic lawn maintenance to local workers could also help, in a small way, the local economy.

However the city does it, adding a small bag fee would seem like an easy source of income to pay for an obvious problem.

Of course, if you don’t want to pay for the fee, don’t — bring your own bags in.

Jesse Wright is the managing editor for The Daily News. You can email him at or call him at (985) 732-2565, ext. 301.