A St. Paul man is suing the city over its new organized trash collection system, claiming it illegally favors people who generate more garbage.
In his lawsuit filed this week in Ramsey County District Court, Highland Park resident Peter Butler says the city’s organized trash collection, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 1, violates the Waste Management Act.
The law requires charges for municipal trash collection to “increase with the volume or weight of the waste collected,” according to the complaint. “Defendant’s pricing system decreases the cost per gallon of waste collection as the volume of waste increases and contravenes Minnesota’s waste management policy of reducing waste generation through price signals.”
Department of Public Works spokeswoman Lisa Hiebert said in an e-mail that the city cannot comment on pending litigation.
Under the organized hauling system, which has been in the works for more than two years, haulers will collect trash in designated areas instead of crisscrossing the city. Residents will find out in August which hauler will serve their street or alley.
All residential property owners of households with up to four units, including rentals and townhouses, will be required to participate in citywide garbage services. Earlier this month, Public Works mailed information about cart size and service options to residents, who must tell the city which service level they want by June 1.
Residents have four choices: a 35-gallon cart collected every other week or a 35-gallon, 64-gallon or 96-gallon cart collected weekly. Monthly costs range from $20.28 to $34.15.
The complaint breaks down the per-gallon cost of each choice, showing that the smallest waste-collection option costs 27 cents per gallon per collection, while the largest option costs 8 cents per gallon per collection.
In an interview Friday, Butler said those prices won’t encourage residents to cut back on what they throw away.
“It’s important that people who throw out more should realize the cost of their behaviors,” he said. “The city had a great opportunity here to encourage people to recycle more and reduce their overall waste footprint.”
Butler, 51, previously worked for the city as a financial analyst. Last year, he filed a lawsuit against the city in an effort to move city elections to even-numbered years. That case is headed to the Court of Appeals, Butler said.