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Both Towns Consider 'Pay-As-You-Throw' Trash Fee Program

Proponents say that a "pay-as-you-throw" trash system encourages more recycling and could possibly save the towns money.

Wenham may join Hamilton in a "pay-as-you-throw" trash program designed to encourage residents to increase recycling.

And the two towns will explore the possibility of bringing the school district and some businesses - which have commercial trash collection contracts - into a combined system, operated by Hiltz Waste Disposal.

Communities that have pay-as-you-throw programs charge residents for the collection of regular trash based on the amount they throw away. Residents are not charged for recycled materials, which creates an economic incentive for residents to recycle more and generate less waste.

Traditionally, residents pay for waste collection through property taxes or a fixed fee, regardless of how much or how little trash they throw away. Pay-as-you-throw programs treat trash services more like electricity, gas and water utilities where households pay a variable rate depending on the amount of the service they use.

None of the specific fees that would possibly be charged were discussed.

“Wenham is excited about this prospect,” Wenham Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren said Wednesday at a meeting of the Capital Management Committee, a tri-party group that is seeking ways to collaborate and combine services.

Wenham Board of Selectmen Chairman Molly Martins agreed with Chelgren's enthusiasm.

“Wenham does not have be a trailer on this,” she said.

The Hamilton Board of Selectmen already has the authority from a past Town Meeting to adopt a pay-as-you-throw system. And Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo is preparing a white paper outlining how the program might work, its benefits and drawbacks. He said the paper, which should be completed by the end of this week, could include Wenham in its projections of savings and operational costs.

“The pay-as-you-throw has to happen because without it you don't get a robust participation in the recycling program,” Lombardo said.

He told the CMC that the state Department of Environmental Protection may soon require towns to move to a pay-as-you-throw program.

Hiltz is also interested in the program, which would include using an automated truck and standard rolling bins that are picked up by mechanical arms on the truck. The system would allow Hiltz to staff the trucks with one person instead of two. Also it would reduce the workmen's compensation claims the waste disposal company has because a person would not have to lift the trash into the truck, Lombardo said.

Lombardo expects to meet with Hiltz - the existing hauler for both towns -  soon to discuss how the town or towns might work with the company.

The DEP is also interested in the towns acquiring an anaerobic digestion system, Lombardo said.

An anaerobic digestion system breaks down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen to manage waste and release energy.

Lombardo said some estimates he has heard are that the towns could earn $1.5 million to $2 million in additional revenues with an anaerobic digestion system. Town Leaders have been examining the possibility of .

The pay-as-you-throw program may be discussed at the joint Boards of Selectmen meeting on Aug. 23.

Bruce Wadleigh August 18, 2011 at 04:52 PM
All the above comments are good ones. I would be willing to participate in this program ONLY if my R.E. Taxes were substantially reduced accordingly for the service that I have been paying for. We all know that our R.E. taxes will NOT go down, therefore I find it very difficult to support this new way for the towns to take more of our money and eliminate yet another service to we tax payers. One free 35 gallon container is not to much to ask for considering that we pay one of the highest tax rates in the state. I think that our town fathers/mothers ( BoS ) and ( Managers ) should come up with other ways to increase revenues which don't include more income from the taxpayers. Enough is Enough !!! Bruce Wadleigh
Bob Gray August 19, 2011 at 11:08 AM
My family and I have been a very strong supporter of the recycling program and we have reduced our regular trash to 1/2 barrel a week for which I do not get charged for except through my property taxes. I would be totally against an additional charge for that barrel UNLESS my property taxes were reduced !! "READ MY LIPS, NO NEW TAXES !!! " "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!!"
Rich August 19, 2011 at 01:04 PM
Since most of us have reduced our trash to just one bag a week, I'm thinking biz $$ for Hiltz has been reduced also.. maybe the town/and HIltz have come up with this great plan to help them recoup their loss? So are we going to be eliminating trash bags?, seems like we will need ( and pay for) a new containers so that Hiltz can use this new fancy truck to pick up my trash, so they can eliminate a worker from lifting? (and pass the add'l cost to me)... How much does this anaerobic digestion system cost? How will the town save money?
Bruce Wadleigh August 20, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Rich, Towns like these never save money !! They just continue to add to our taxes to increase their Revenues to make us happy campers so we will be happily awaiting their next tax increase the following year !! Get used to it my friend and join EiE !!! You won't regret it. Bruce
Marc October 28, 2011 at 06:29 PM
I consider myself to be ultra-conscious about unecessary waste, my household composts and recycles to the fullest extent - all paper, plastic, glass, eggshells, vegetable matter, coffee grinds, seafood, you name it. In my opinion this is a bad idea. What concerns me is the lack lack of foresight regarding the TYPE of garbage that will sit around for an additional week. As mentioned before there's baby diapers, cat litter, etc.. but also animal by-products like poultry and beef bones, skin and scraps -These items are not supposed to be composted. My garage smells like hell itself the night before garbage day in the summer. The thought of having this stuff sitting around for another week turns my stomach. Likewise, I don't want it outside on the property I work so hard to beautify nor do I want to smell my neighbor's garbage. As mentioned before, it will be a magnet for vermin, and insects. It is flat-out unsanitary. The kicker is that even if you want to pay extra to rid yourself of this un-compostable organic waste... it's not going to help. Pickup is still bi-weekly regardless of how many bags you buy. I'd rather maintain a weekly pick-up schedule and pay per bag than this half-assed solution.

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