The collaboration of the Natural Resources Council of Maine with WasteZero in support of pay-as-you-throw trash programs is unfortunate (“Company guarantees trash reduction for Maine towns that switch to pay-per-bag,” July 20).

The NRC has attempted to support sound environmental policies. This is not one of them. WasteZero, a for-profit company, is committed to selling overpriced bags to increase profits.

National and state studies confirm that bag-based pay-as-you-throw schemes are not the preferred programs in states serious about reducing waste, increasing recycling and securing a cleaner, safer environment. And a one-size-fits-all approach is not supported anywhere. The NRC needs to do its research here. (See alternatives at pubhlth.com.)

The bag program offered by WasteZero is costly and deceptive, burdening residents (especially those of limited income and elders). The costs to residents in every town we studied significantly rose with only modest increases in recycling.

And importantly, trash is often “reduced” by shifting it to business bins and dumping it in fields. Our research in Woolwich made this clear: Fifty tons of municipal trash were unaccounted for in six months with bag-based pay-as-you-throw programs – then citizens voted it out.

And, lest we forget, municipal solid waste disposal is a public service required by state law for residents and businesses. The bag fee is simply a shift from a progressive (property) tax to a regressive tax.

WasteZero Chairman Jim Campbell states, “Maine could be the greenest state in the U.S. from a solid waste perspective.” What is more likely is that WasteZero gets greener profit-wise while towns bring in more revenues through a regressive tax.

If the NRC is serious about sustainable, cost-effective and equitable waste management, it should view trash as a resource, not a pollutant.

Luisa S. Deprez

Portland

Ron Deprez

Deer Isle