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Organics Collection to Continue

The first-in-the-state curbside organics collection program in the two towns will continue for at least three more months.

The state’s first and only curbside compost collection program will continue for another three months with the hopes of making it permanent.

The program is voluntary and participants pay $75 per household for weekly curbside collection of organic, compostable materials. There are a total of 576 home participating – 402 in Hamilton and 174 in Wenham. That’s more than 17 percent of the households in the two towns.

The brainchild of the program – Gretel Clark of Hamilton – told Wenham selectmen this week that the program needs about $9,000 more to get through the end of June.

The program’s ends on March 31. Hamilton officials had asked for it to continue for another three months so that it “dovetails” into the fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Clark said that 3.2 tons of organics are collected on average per week, or 16-17 pounds per week per household. And that’s saving more than $200 weekly for the towns in the so-called “tipping fee” at the North Andover incinerator.

Clark said by continuing the program it will keep the existing participants involved. And the hope is to increase participation in the new year.

Clark said the state Department of Environmental Protective has agreed to cover a majority of the cost to buy more collection bins - $20 of the each bin's $29 cost.

"They have assured me they have the money," Clark said.

The program is getting noticed in other communities and Clark, because of her work on the program, said she receives about an inquiry a month about it.

Wenham selectmen agreed to contribute $3,000 to keep the program going through the end of June – its share of a third – on top of the $6,000 contributed by Hamilton. The money will come from the "refuse collection” budget line, which has a balance of $92,500, according to Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren.

Chelgren said the program is reducing the amount of "solid waste" the town collects.

"That's our gauge of success," he said.

Greg Horner March 18, 2011 at 11:49 AM
Great to see the towns supporting this program; we're pioneers here, and hopefully the program can be scaled up to bring down costs. This is a great way to make our towns more environmentally friendly.
William Harris March 30, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Well maybe not so great. The program was sold as being at "no cost to the towns" and now we learn 9 months into the program the towns have to collectively come up with $9,000 so it can operate for another 3 months. Sounds like this program is not working as advertised and like so many "green" initiatives must be subsidized by the taxpayers.
Questionable Ethics March 30, 2011 at 08:34 PM
William, as I read your comment, I was reminded of what the bishop of Brandenburg is alleged to have said when Martin Luther hand-delivered (he probably didn't nail them to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg) his 95 theses to him: "Interesting ...... if true." Your comments are certainly interesting and worth considering, but perhaps it may help to remind readers of the facts. Fact 1: The program was a Pilot program that ran for 12 months (as indicated in the above story). Fact 2: Not a single dollar of municipal money from either town was spent on the pilot, which ends March 31. Fact 3: The program has already saved both towns money -- approximately $200 less in weekly tipping fees (as mentioned in the story). Fact 4: Part of the reason that the refuse collection budget line has a positive balance is because of the reduced costs in tipping fees that have resulted from the organic waste collection program Fact 5: the financing is needed to bridge the gap between when the pilot program ended and the new fiscal year, at which time the program will be funded through a revolving fund. The program has worked exactly as advertised, and promises not only to be self-sustainable moving forward, but also to lower waste removal costs even for those who don't use it. QE
William Harris March 30, 2011 at 09:26 PM
Questionable Identity: Take off the mask and enter the forum as a "real" person. Fact 1: annonymous comments are a indicator of lack of credibility. I laugh at your suggestion of lower waste removal cost as the next blow to be dealt the taxpayers of Hamilton will be the "pay as you throw" program - i.e. pay for every bag of trash. I am sure Mr. Hidden will have some great "facts" to support than one too.
William Harris March 30, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Mr. Question: You have shown yourself to be a coward who does not have the courage of his convictions to attach your name (identity) to your postings. My name and picture appear with my postings. What are you afraid of?
Questionable Ethics March 30, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Can't reveal who I am because I am the holder of too many town secrets. Seriously. Oh, and also because we can't all look as good as you do, of course. So to summarize: if I am right, which I am, the program is actually saving you and other residents money. The fact that it also makes us responsible stewards of the earth is a bonus. If you are right, I am a coward whose facts are irrefutable. Either way, the program is saving you and other residents money. For me, that's all that really matters, and that's all that should matter to you, too, William. QE

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