Back in the day, an eating establishment was likely to be a brick-and-mortar affair. Today, not so much. Heck, today you can serve great food right out of a trailer. But doing so takes an endless supply of disposable packaging, most of which walks away from the business and becomes trash in minutes. In many modern eateries you don’t find the machine called the dish washer—nor will you find the person referred to as The Dishwasher. Whether a business is a massive, toxic-belching paper or plastic mill, or the contemporary downtown eatery with no dishwasher, they bank buck by externalizing noxious byproducts onto the community. Trash, namely. It’s built right into the business plans—and globally it’s an enormous problem for oceans, rivers, landscapes, wildlife and communities. This commercial phenomena has exploded in the past few generations and, as a direct result, trash and recyclables have grown exponentially in volume and complexity.

And at long last the Haines Borough is proposing to manage solid waste. I ask voters to support the borough’s solid waste ordinance and I accept that we should allow sales taxation for that purpose. However, a better way to fund solid waste management is to directly tax a sub-set of the “new” trash and recyclables: collect $0.10 on the retail sale of each single-serve beverage container—beer, pop, bottled water, take-out beverages, etc. Doing so would raise all the money we need to manage waste and recycling and send the perfect message to consumers and businesses.

Burl Sheldon