HAINES (AP) -- The volume of garbage handled by the Haines garbage utility has dropped 20 percent, an average of one ton per day, since collection and disposal rates doubled last June.
City officials are wondering where the missing trash is going.
Lynda Walker, co-owner of the private Haines Sanitation, said she expected volumes would drop off with the new rates, but not so dramatically.
''One ton a day. That's a lot,'' Walker told the Chilkat Valley News last week.
Her company doubled collection rates after dumping at the landfill surpassed the threshold of five tons of solid waste per day, which would have changed the landfill's classification and required expensive monitoring wells. The company instead began shipping trash Outside.
Since establishing a collection center last summer, Haines Friends of Recycling has been handling recyclable paper, aluminum, tin and glass at a rate of about 48 tons per year.
That leaves as much as 300 tons of trash going to other places.
Some people are ''donating'' junk to local charities. So many unsellable items have been left outside the Salvation Army thrift shop in recent weeks that its garbage bills are threatening to sink the operation.
Recycling leaders have promoted reducing consumption and reusing materials as part of a strategy for minimizing waste. Some families say their purchasing and recycling habits have changed.
Tammy Piper said her family of four has cut its garbage volume in half, mostly through recycling but also by changing how it shops.
''I don't buy anything in plastic anymore that I don't have to,'' Piper said. Instead of plastic, she buys milk and juice in paper cartons.
''About the only thing we can't get rid of is toys the kids have grown out of,'' she said.
Haines Sanitation's Walker said most families probably are not composting. She believes much of the waste stream not coming to her is going up in smoke, into roadside ditches or into the ground, illegally. She said the town's become ''the valley of ten thousand smokes.''
Walker points to a study that showed that household trash from a family of four burned in a barrel can potentially release as much dioxin and other pollutants as a municipal waste incinerator serving tens of thousands.
This spring, bags of dumped garbage were discovered in ditches near the Haines airport, the rifle range and other rural locations. Department of Transportation foreman Pete Lapham, who's responsible for maintaining state roads, said he's seeing more trash in ditches than in previous years.
Residents also have reported illegal use of commercial trash bins and many were fitted with padlocks when garbage rates doubled.
The borough's new solid waste management plan recommends that the municipality approve stiff penalties and enforcement to encourage residents to legally dispose of trash.
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