26 November 2010

This is Pure Garbage

Interiors: Work Station Redux
My office.

This is madness. The city in which I live - Frederiksberg - has sent a bill for 1635 kroner [€219] to me. I have a company and companies must now pay a so-called Business Garbage Fee [Erhvervsaffaldgebyr].

Firstly, it is rather simple to start companies in Denmark, which is a good-thing. Anyone can start a one-person company free of charge and it only takes a day or so. Many freelancers have a company and many people have a company in addition to being a wage-earner.

Most of these small companies are run from home, including mine. Meetings are held at cafés or at other peoples offices. When I work with other people, our companies bill each other for services rendered. In my case, if I am on a photo shoot or making a film, I am out on location. When I am at home, in my 'office' [pictured above], things are pretty much 'garbage-free'.

I simply don't generate any garbage in my company. Totally and purely environmentally-friendly.

I applied for dispensation to be excused from the fee. To my amazement, my application was rejected in an email recieved today:

Vi har gennemgået jeres ansøgning om fritagelse af erhvervsaffaldsgebyret.

Virksomheden opfylder IKKE kriterierne for fritagelse. Ansøgningen om fritagelse afvises derfor.

Frederiksberg Kommune skal i hver enkelt sag vurdere, om der er grundlag for fritagelse efter Affaldsbekendtgørelsens § 60, stk. 5 (ingen egentlig affaldsproduktion). Frederiksberg Kommune betragter som udgangspunkt alle aktive virksomheder som affaldsproducerende, idet det normalt ikke vil være muligt at drive virksomhed helt uden restprodukter eller kasserede produkter, som fx papir, plast, pap, glas, metal, madrester, tømte malerbøtter, sprayflasker, elektronisk udstyr, batterier eller træ. Det er derfor yderst få virksomheder, hvor kommunen vurderer, at der kan være grundlag for en fritagelse efter § 60, stk. 5, fx virksomheder lukket inden gebyropkrævningen i 2010.

Din virksomhed vil modtage girokort til opkrævning af erhvervsaffaldsgebyr i december 2010.

Denne afgørelse kan ikke påklages til anden administrativ myndighed, jf. affaldsbekendtgørelsens § 101. Hvis man mener, at kommunen ikke overholder gældende lovgivning, kan sagen indbringes for statsforvaltningen i den region, hvori kommunen er beliggende. Statsforvaltningen beslutter selv, om der er tilstrækkeligt grundlag for at rejse en tilsynssag, jf. § 48 a i den kommunale styrelseslov. Man kan også gå til domstolene med sin sag.

On the website it says that you can apply for exclusion if your company:
- Made less than 50,000 kroner in 2008.
- You can document that you handle your own garbage disposal.
- You don't generate garbage in your company.

But then in the rejection email it basically says that the City of Frederiksberg doesn't believe it's possible for a company NOT to generate garbage. Which makes the whole application process a joke. They are convinced that ALL companies generate garbage like paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, metal, foodstuffs, empty paint cans, spraycans, electronics, batteries or wood.

The email also says that you cannot appeal the decision. Madness.

I don't produce garbage. I have a printer with refillable cartridges so I don't dispose of those. I am environmentally aware enough to only print documents that I need and I don't throw them out. My entire business is internet-based or involves public speaking in locations outside my home. Again, no garbage produced by me there.

I don't produce any electronic waste, wood, spray cans, cardboard, plastic, metal, foodstuffs, empty paint cans or batteries. I don't own a car and use a bicycle to get around.

You know what I am?

I'm grade A, Mr. Fucking Environmentally-Friendly Company. Kissing the planet with the tongue, using a condom AND remembering to call her the next day.

And I can prove it.

I'm all for environmentally-minded fees but inflexible ones like this that slap the small businesses in the face are just ridiculous.

I called Hans from Larry vs Harry and suggested I move my business to his address in Copenhagen, and share his office, to escape from this madness. He said that it was the same in Copenhagen. And added that he learned that 70% [SEVENTY PERCENT] of the fee goes to administration. Christ.

Anybody in Copenhagen know of a county nearby that doesn't have these fees? I'd like to move my company there. Have bicycle, will travel.

Here's the Kafka-esque website from the City of Frederiksberg, in Danish.