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.