Dumpster diving detectives nab eco-cheats
Determined to make their new pay-as-you-go garbage system work, Swiss municipal authorities in Yverdon are rifling through refuse to find clues to the identities of trash cheaters.
"There, a black bag. Quick!" Pascal Breux hurriedly presses the big red button next to him. Behind the wheel of his garbage truck, this municipal worker for the village of Yverdon in western Switzerland scans the back of his vehicle with a small camera. "We must only collect white bags, the ones that are taxed by the city," he says.
Two truck "servants" -- they don’t like to be called "garbage men" -- then hop on the vehicle, and start fishing for bags that shouldn’t be there. Their next mission will be to sort through the bags and hopefully discover the identity of the cheating polluters in this quaint spa town of 27,000.
Vaud, the canton where Yverdon is located, is hardly an environmental hotbed. But over the past year, the town has made an effort to be less wasteful when it comes to garbage, enforcing a pay-as-you-go system to encourage recycling and a reduction in overall waste.
Residents are now only allowed to leave their trash in special white bags sold by the city. Anyone who dares dump their garbage in another kind of bag risks a hefty fine – up to several hundred euros. To show they mean business, Yverdon town authorities have already tracked down some 250 trash cheaters.
This morning’s catch was a good one: Out of only three containers, the municipal workers have collected a dozen illicit bags. The bags are then put in a tiny rickety truck headed for the Road Maintenance headquarters, where Olivier de Blaireville, head of municipal waste disposal authority, proceeds to disembowel them with a knife. The garbage is spread, ready for inspection.