"Ridiculous" Litter Problem

  • Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Obviously, it is fair to blame the Chattanoogans and visitors who roll down their windows and throw their trash out onto the highways and byways for the city to dispose of it.

Or the travelers from other areas who carry a month's worth of trash and garbage in the bed of their pickup truck, hoping the wind will blow it all out by the time they return home.

But, an examination of the "root causes" of the litter problem causes me to recommend to our local leaders as follows:

1. City Council: Pass an ordinance requiring that any business inside the city limits who sells items requiring bags or boxes for it to be carried away, to have "drive up trash receptacles" easily available to their customers to use prior to exiting the property of the business. (Looking at you, fast food restaurants who close your lobbies and operate drive thru sales, with narry a trash can on your property to handle the trash your products are wrapped in. Where do you think it goes?)

2. County Commission: Require all residents and businesses in the county outside the municipalities to contract with an approved trash pickup provider. Break the county up into zones (similar to the zone towing districts used for police tows) and award at least two contracts per zone to private trash disposal companies. By requiring the disposal companies to compete only in fairly drawn districts, thereby allowing for completion and at the same time efficiency, rates can be kept (or required to be set) fair. Is it fair that because the county does not provide or require trash pickup, to expect Chattanooga's taxpayers to dispose of it for them?  Why does Hamilton County expect the municipalities to dispose of garbage, trash, old tires and appliances which the county refuses to handle or contract out.  Sure, there are responsible county residents who voluntarily do so. It is the others who ought to be required to properly dispose of their garbage, yet refuse to do so. By requiring pickup service contracts, the chronic litterers can be identified easily and fined for not having a pickup provider, and the disposal services will have more profitable routes, which will allow lower rates.

3. Litterers: Emulate me. Carry your trash around with you inside your car (or the cab of your truck) when the merchants refuse to provide trash cans for their customers. Like me, you can cart around a hundred pounds of fast food wrappers with nowhere to deposit them (not fair putting McDonald's trash in Exxon's receptacles.)

Mark Regan

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