At its third meeting, the Haines Borough’s Solid Waste Working Group Monday continued to wrestle with identifying the issues it is tasked to solve, loosely pegging cost and illegal dumping as problems it wants to address.

The group resolved in previous meetings to work toward a solid waste management plan, but member Jeremy Stephens said he is still trying to figure out what are the waste problems in the community.

“I’m not so sure we’ve heard all of the issues,” Stephens said. “What is it we’re planning for?”

Interim Borough Manager Brad Ryan said at a previous meeting and again Monday the illegal dumping along Haines Highway and within the townsite is an ongoing problem.

“I don’t get the feeling that the dumping is because there’s nowhere to dump it: It’s viewed as free. It’s expensive to dump,” Ryan said. “I think there’s a bigger problem. I don’t know if it’s enforcement, or it’s cost, or a combination.”

“I think the reason people burn, bury or store trash is cost,” said group chair Margaret Friedenauer. “Solid waste management is not available for people who can’t afford it. It’s just not. And that to me is a problem. That the entire burden needs to be on the borough and on everybody who lives in the borough,” Friedenaur said.

Sally Garton of Community Waste Solutions said rates can come down if more people subscribe to a collection service. She provided examples of monthly pricing for residential mixed waste removal – both mandatory and optional – from seven other Alaskan communities.

Most averaged between $23 and $40 per month for one 32-gallon container of waste per week, whereas as Haines prices where about $64 per month.

Stephens suggested issuing an informal request for proposals to let companies assess pricing for collection and disposal for a list of several proposed options like mandatory or optional pickup, self-haul, and split or mixed recycling.

Melissa Aronson of Haines Friends of Recycling said she was concerned that if pickup were mandatory or if recyclables were mixed, less waste would actually be recycled.

“I get nervous that we’re going to destroy what already works,” she said. “The problem I think is the illegal dumping…is that the problem we’re trying to solve?”

Aronson added that people who self-haul their garbage more closely pay attention to what they throw away versus what they can recycle. Besides environmental reasons, people recycle to keep their dump bill down.

Permitting issues limit how much the borough can be involved in collection. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska only allow two permits in the Haines Borough for garbage collection within and outside the townsite. CWS owns both.

The group also briefly discussed effects of wildlife and weather on garbage containers, financial incentives for recycling and transfer stations.

Members agreed to bring a list of viable garbage disposal methods to the next meeting for a possible informal RFP process. They will meet 4 p.m. Feb. 16 at the public library.