How to remove bad smell from garbage lawsuit

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The owner of Coeur d’Alene Garbage has invested a small fortune — or maybe not so small — of his own money in some 60,000 garbage cans. Phil Damiano has every right to require that his property is taken care of, even while he leases the cans to customers.

Damiano is suing a start-up company that, in an ecologically friendly way, cleans filthy cans using a specially equipped truck that follows CDA Garbage trucks. For about $5 a shot, Eco-Wash customers can ensure their garbage cans don’t stink and that the washed-off nastiness doesn’t end up in lawns, on sidewalks and streets and ultimately, in the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

Coeur d’Alene Garbage is operating on a contract with the City of Coeur d’Alene and also provides services outside the city, but the lawsuit is between the two businesses only. The dispute is lamentable — and reparable. A solution requires only a change of perspective.

Because Eco-Wash provides a desirable service that Coeur d’Alene Garbage does not (and in fact, CDA Garbage requires customers to keep the receptacles clean), Eco-Wash has something of value to the garbage collectors. Because of Coeur d’Alene Garbage’s ongoing relationship with tens of thousands of customers, it has something of value for Eco-Wash. Why not explore partnership opportunities that would benefit both companies?

As just one possibility, Eco-Wash could give Coeur d’Alene Garbage a percentage of revenue attracted by CDA Garbage’s promotion of the new service through billing, email or other contact with existing customers. That way, Eco-Wash gets lots of new customers and Coeur d’Alene Garbage develops a new revenue stream with little or no additional expense. Eco-Wash would need to ensure that it doesn’t damage or reduce the value of Coeur d’Alene Garbage’s containers, but in this scenario, both companies and customers win.

Damiano has a reputation as a respectable businessman with deep ties to the community. Eco-Wash offers a service unlike any that have existed here, and its success also would appear to be a boon to the community. Here’s hoping these two can work together, because clearly they’d make better teammates than adversaries.

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