Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

Our local refuse district, le Syndicat Mixte Intercommunal d'Enlèvement et d'Elimination des Ordures Ménagères du Val de Cher (the Combined Intercommunal Association for the Removal and Elimination of Household Waste of the Cher Valley), known by its very catchy acronym SMIEEOM, distributed new poubelles (garbage cans) to all of its customers this fall.

Our old green can and the new red and gray can.

Last summer, the SMIEEOM sent agents door-to-door to interview us about our garbage collection needs. Thier goal is to increase recycling and reduce household waste. They are issuing new garbage cans that are sized to fit the needs of each household. The cans have bar codes on them that, I presume, will be scanned by the garbage collectors each time they're emptied. This will give the SMIEEOM some data about the amount of garbage being collected from every household and business in the district.

I believe the plan is to eventually start charging customers based on the amount of garbage they produce. Right now we all pay the same rate and it's incorporated into our property tax bills. But the plan, as I understand it, will remove the tax and replace it with the new use-based fee.

Ken and I already recycle and compost most of our waste. We put out one thirty-liter (7.9 gallon) bag of garbage per week, and it's often not full. We have two recycle containers in the garage: one for glass and another for cans, plastic, and other food packaging. We keep a basket in the den for recyclable paper, magazines, and junk mail. We have to take our recycling to the special collection points around town; the SMIEEOM doesn't pick it up at the house. But it's easy because the collection bins are very conveniently located and it hasn't been a problem for us.

So when the agent interviewed me last summer, I told her that there were only two people living in the house, how much garbage we produced, and we agreed that all we needed was the smallest garbage can. So when the SMIEEOM delivered the new cans this fall, la loi de l'emmerdement maximum (Murphy's law) kicked in and they naturally gave us the biggest one.

I called the SMIEEOM offices last month to let them know that we didn't need the big can, and the woman who answered the phone was incredibly polite and knowledgeable. She took all my information and said that sometime before the end of the year, someone would come out to the house and exchange our garbage cans.

They showed up on Monday, took the huge can, and left us with a new little one. Once again I'm amazed at how efficient some of these agencies can be. Eventually. So we have our new can, which we'll start using right away. We also get to keep our old green can, which is slightly larger. Ken and I decided that the green can will come in handy for collecting yard waste and wheeling it around to the compost piles next summer and fall.


  1. I am glad they are starting using different color cans (just like in the US). My water bill also include "waste water (sewers) $7.44and refuse, $27.48". Like you, I am very good at recycling, composting and using gray water when I can.

  2. Sounds like home, right down to the can snafu, except that no one interviewed us. We're used to the system now, and it works well.

  3. As is the fashion in the very GREEN Portland Oregon USA, the Husband & I are aggressive about recycling & composting. We also get the smallest can available. The company (which makes gourmet food to go) that I work for composts 100%. Impressive?

  4. Walt, as you can imagine Stan and I are very aggressive about recycling & composting(we compost all our yard clippings, plant matter, scraps, and peels), as well as reducing the trash we do have to take to the landfill. We have been able to reduce the amount(of trash) we take to the landfill to one 30 gallon bag each month. If we could get rid of the plastic wrapping everything here in the states is in, we'd be golden.


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