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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

How not to waste money on waste

"TAKE OUT the garbage! (Vynes smeti!)." If you live in a block of flats, you often hear mothers shouting this to their children or husbands.
"Again? (Zasa?)" is the usual reply.
The assigned person will finally grab the bag of garbage, go outside and walk the several meters necessary to get to the family's container (kontajner).

"TAKE OUT the garbage! (Vynes smeti!)." If you live in a block of flats, you often hear mothers shouting this to their children or husbands.

"Again? (Zasa?)" is the usual reply.

The assigned person will finally grab the bag of garbage, go outside and walk the several meters necessary to get to the family's container (kontajner).

Oh no! The container is full (preplnený). He will then drop the full garbage bag (tašku so smeťami) next to it and walk back to the flat.

Overfilled containers along streets are an everyday sight, except on the days the collectors (smetiari) come to empty them.

Garbage containers get filled so quickly because people are producing more waste these days. When their own containers are full, people often dump their rubbish in other people's containers that still have space in them.

Every house (rodinný dom) or block of flats (panelák or bytovka) owns a certain number of containers and the owners of the residences have to pay for their own garbage disposal (odvoz smetí). For individual houses, the amount of money due is determined by the amount of garbage produced. As a result, some people have started to lock (zamykať) their own containers so they avoid paying extra for somebody else's garbage.

Paying for garbage collection is common practice all over the world. But in some countries, like the United States, you rarely know how much you pay for this service because garbage disposal is usually covered by local taxes. In Slovakia, owners of property are presented with a bill listing the amount they have to pay. You pay the sum either monthly or yearly, depending on your local garbage-service laws.

The local fee (miestny poplatok) for garbage disposal across Slovakia can range from Sk80 ($2) to Sk1,200 ($30) per year per household. The way the fee is calculated differs from municipality to municipality.

In Bratislava, residents in each of its 17 districts pay a different fee for the service. The fee increases the more times the container is emptied. If you own a flat, moreover, you pay according to how many people live there (see box, right).

In the country's second-largest city, Košice, all citizens living in blocks of flats pay the same fee - Sk650 per person per year. For people living in a house, the charge depends both on how often the garbage man comes to empty your container and its volume in litres.

Retired people produce less waste and because of this some municipalities have started to provide discounts on garbage fees for pensioners. The same applies to handicapped people.

In Košice, for instance, a new law that will come into effect in 2003, states that people over 70 who are living alone will get a 50 per cent discount. Retired couples will get 30 per cent off.

People can separate (triediť or separovať) their garbage, which later gets recycled (recyklovaný), but discounts are rarely given to anyone who does this. When a municipality can prove that it is recycling its separated waste, it can ask the Recycling Fund (Recyklačný fond) for relief. Occasionally, this cash reaches the hands of consumers who separate their trash.

If you own a cabin or cottage near a lake resort or in the mountains but are still close to a town, you will be asked to follow the garbage-disposal rules of the municipality you are in.

If a Slovak decides to leave the country for an entire year he can appeal (odvolať sa) to his town council to have his usual garbage-disposal fees suspended. If the council declines his request and he refuses to pay the bill, he may be fined up to Sk5,000 ($120).

Luckily for people who rent, which most foreigners do, the responsibility for paying the garbage-disposal bills lies with the owner of the property. But it is still your responsibility to take your garbage out.



Payments for waste disposal in Bratislava

Family Houses Payment for one disposal
110 l bin - disposal once every two weeks Sk100
240 l bin - disposal once every two weeks Sk200
110 l bin - disposal once a week Sk83
240 l bin - disposal once a week Sk166
Block of flats Payment for one disposal
110 l bin Sk100
240 l bin Sk200
1100 l container Sk395
Business entitiesPayment for one disposal
110 l bin Sk135
240 l bin Sk270
1100 l container Sk504
separated (paper, glass and plastic)
240 l bin Sk87
1100 l container Sk149

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