A recent article in the Kansas City Star (https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article273945575.html) discussed issues around the City’s 2-bag limit for weekly municipal trash collection. The article does a good job of investigating the details and history of the 2-bag limit and points to the availability of excess trash tags to accommodate households that have more trash than 2 bags can hold. At the end of the article, the paper lists the locations where trash tags can be purchased. A simple mapping exercise can show how trash tags may be more difficult to acquire in communities that need them most and who are burdened by generations of inequitable attention.
The map below (Figure 1) shows the locations of shops that sell trash tags, primarily Ace Hardware stores and Price Chopper grocery stores.
You should note that there are many locations to purchase trash tags near KCMO’s western border, south and east of the 435 loop and throughout the Northland. There are noticeable gaps in availability near Martin City and throughout the city’s historic eastside neighborhoods.
The next map (Figure 2) highlights the density of trash-related 311 calls that the city received in 2022. There is a notable correlation between the areas with the highest density of 311 calls and furthest from trash-tag purchase locations. The most effected neighborhoods are Blue Hills, Ivanhoe, Marlborough, Oak Park, Santa Fe, South Round Top, Town Fork Creek, and Vineyard.
Figures 3 and 4 show that the areas with higher incidents of trash-related 311 calls and poor access to trash tag purchase locations are also home to historically marginalized, Black populations with lower incomes. These residents have their burdens compounded by unequal access to trash tags that are more easily attained in more affluent, typically whiter communities.
In theory, the lack of access to trash tags should be one that is easy to solve. There are other grocery stores besides Price Chopper that operate on the eastside of Kansas City. Wouldn’t it be reasonable that these locations be asked to help distribute the tags? An even bolder plan; given the multiple, systemic burdens that folks in affected areas live with, perhaps excess trash tags should be given away free-of-charge at public safety sites like police or fire stations, or at neighborhood gathering places like libraries and community centers.
Do you live in an area affected by unequal access to trash tags? Has the inaccessibility of trash tags impacted your household’s ability to manage its waste? Where would you like to see excess trash tags available in your neighborhood? Let us know on social media and be sure to tag your elected representatives in the conversation.
This post and the figures within were developed and published by the staff at the UMKC-Center for Neighborhoods, any use of the text or images in this post must be attributed to, and by persmission of, the UMKC-Center for Neighborhoods.