In an effort to boost the number of residents paying for curbside recycling, Provo City will soon be utilizing a shady business practice employed by credit card companies and television infomercials — the “opt-out” billing method. Under the opt-out plan, Provo City will automatically enroll all residents in their curbside recycling program and begin charging each household $4.75 per month, UNLESS the resident contacts the city and opts out of the program. Residents must opt-out by August 7. Service begins November 1. For more info on the program and instructions on how to opt-out, visit the Provo City website.
Earlier this week, Waste Management of Utah proposed a similar opt-out recycling program to Cedar Hills. Greg Walkenhorst of Waste Management told the Cedar Hills council that cities using an opt-in program are getting 36 to 40 percent program participation, while those using the opt-out method have a much higher participation rate, with Eagle Mountain showing an 85% participation rate. Gee, I wonder why — could it be because everyone in the city was automatically enrolled in the voluntary program without their permission??
Cedar Hills declined to participate in the opt-out program because, as a Daily Herald article reports, “The city council did not feel comfortable agreeing to a contract that could bind residents to participating in a program they did not want to join.” I applaud their common sense and their respect for residents’ rights, time and money.
Walkenhorst told the city that by utilizing opt-out instead of opt-in policies, “You’re going to increase that [participation] significantly, there’s no question, and the benefits are tremendous.” Of course you’re going to increase participation if you’re automatically signing people up. And just who is benefiting? Waste Management and city governments, “there’s no question”.
I am happy that Provo offers curbside recycling for those residents who wish to participate, but automatically enrolling residents in the program and charging them without prior permission is a gross abuse of power and trust. Shame on any city government that uses this underhanded business practice.