Sunday, August 28, 2011

GET THE FACTS: Hamilton and Wenham Propose SMART Waste Removal Program

In an effort to reduce costs, increase recycling and expand the award winning curbside organic composting program, Hamilton and Wenham have proposed transitioning to a SMART (Save Money As you Reduce Trash) waste removal program.

In the Draft 2010-2020 Solid Waste Master Plan, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) has set a goal of “reducing annual solid waste disposal by 30% by 2020…through varying combinations of source reduction, recycling, and composting…” and by 2050 the goal is to reduce residential and commercial waste by 80%.

Aligning the towns with these goals has significant cost savings potential beyond the obvious environmental benefits of burning less trash.

What does the new SMART program include?

  • Recycling pick up increases to weekly and will change to single stream meaning no more separating your recyclables. The paper, bottles, cans, plastic etc will be separated at the recycling facility.

  • Organic recycling pick up will be expanded to town wide at no charge. The towns have applied for a grant to pay for both the inside and outside bins as well.

  • Solid Waste pick up will continue weekly, but will move to a Pay as You Throw (PAYT) program.

How does this expanded program save money?

  • Burning less and recycling more saves $28 -$68 per ton

There are two major costs associated with waste removal; hauling charges and tipping fees.

The hauling charges are those associated with picking up and transporting the material.
The towns have been able to negotiate a very favorable contact that enables the additional recycling and organic pickup. The waste hauler, Hiltz, has offered to purchase split trucks that can handle both types of recycling in order to support this program, reducing the total number of trips through town.

The tipping fees are those charged to dispose of the waste. Current charges for trash that gets burned are $68 dollars per ton. Organic waste costs about $40 per ton. There is no charge for recyclables. In 2010, Hamilton and Wenham sent 2912 tons to be burned (68.5%) and 1342 tons to free recycling (31.5%). The economic logic is compelling.

What will the PAYT program cost the average resident?

  • About $40 per year depending on your participation in recycling programs

The average Hamilton-Wenham household uses 11 33-gallon (large) overflow bags per year at a cost of $19.25/year.  Utilizing the enhanced single stream and organic recycling options available it is estimated the average household to reduce its waste by 30%.

The average household would need about 30 full size or 60 half-size bags per year (newly available with this program), at a cost of about $60 per year. This translates to an additional $40 per year for each household - a small price for a lot of service.

All Bag revenue will offset the town’s solid waste budget and reduce the amount of property tax revenue required.

The current Hamilton–Wenham Waste Reduction Program, which includes curbside organic recycling, has been an informative and beneficial first step toward the development of a sustainable town-wide program; a program that has the potential to serve as a model throughout the state for municipal curbside organic recycling. 

But more importantly, our efforts to-date put us at the forefront to capitalize on the objectives set forth by MDEP to dramatically reduce annual solid waste disposal costs and positively affect our environment. By instituting this “first in the Commonwealth” proposal, Hamilton and Wenham will continue to prove that municipalities can do well by doing “good”.