Durham uses a tag system to encourage more recycling by keeping material out of the trash stream, and to place more of the burden of paying for trash collection on those that produce more trash.
The trash tag program is not designed to raise additional revenue for the Town; rather, any revenue collected from the sale of trash tags is used to directly offset the cost of the annual contract with our service provider. The formula works like this: Annual Cost of Contract - Revenue from Trash Tags = Property Taxes raised to pay for trash collection. If we sell more tags, we raise less in property taxes. Since individuals buy tags, but property taxes are allocated to everyone, this is how the cost burden gets shifted to households producing more trash.
Each Durham household gets 26 free trash tags per year. Residents can pick up their annual allotment of free tags at the Town Office after Town Meeting each year. Additional tags cost $3 each.
Why have tags at all?
The annual trash contract is based on estimated tonnage of trash to be collected. If we didn’t have tags, there would be no incentive to keep the amount of trash produced as low as possible. Unlimited trash collection would undoubtedly increase the tonnage collected and result in a higher price in future contracts that would have to be passed along to all taxpayers.
Why not give everyone 52 tags?
More free tags would result in less tag revenue and less incentive to limit trash put out for collection. Both would result in higher property taxes and an increased burden on those producing less trash.
Residents do not have to put a tag on every bag of trash. The maximum weight allowance is 25 pounds per trash bag or trash can. A standard 32-gallon trash usually holds 3 typical 13-gallon kitchen garbage bags, so putting one tag on the can or on the top bag in the can should suffice. If a resident purchased 26 trash tags, in addition to their 26 free tags, and puts a can out every week, the average weekly cost for a full 32-gallon can would be $1.50 per week over the course of a year.