The Town transitioned to a new solid waste collection company, Waste Management, after the previous vendor ended its municipal services late this summer. With the new company the Town returned to weekly collection of all three categories of solid waste – household garbage, recyclable materials and compost. With the new contract, costs have increased making it necessary to raise the price of the orange bags that are part of the Town's “pay as you throw” arrangement for solid waste.
The Selectmen approved a price increase for the large orange bags to $3.00 and for the small orange bags to $2.00, which will go into effect January 15. This is the first time since 2009 when the Town first went to a bag fee system that residents will be paying a higher bag fee. Currently the Town collects just under $200,000 a year in bag and sticker fees, while the annual total cost of managing household solid waste for the Town is approximately $450,000.
A household that uses a large bag each week will spend $156 a year on trash disposal. This is less than half of what a resident would pay to contract with a private hauler for curbside pickup. Thus, while the increase may seem large on a percentage basis, it is still a good bargain.
Of course, the Town is still providing at no additional cost to residents curbside collection of recyclable materials and compost. One of the reasons for going to a “pay as you throw” system is to provide a financial incentive for people to recycle and compost as much as they can. Not only do residents save money the more they divert waste from the orange bags, but the Town saves money as well. Disposal costs for recyclables and compost is significantly less than for regular garbage.
Last year roughly 1,000 tons of solid waste were collected from residents, along with close to 700 tons of recyclable material and over 100 tons of compost. The number of residents participating in the composting program has recently increased from 20% to 25% - a helpful trend but obviously there is room for even more improvement. The Town hired Black Earth Composting to handle our curbside composting program. Their improved handling of the small bins and their ability to take on the operations and management of the entire compost site offers a great opportunity for a full service composting operations that will provide a closed loop system whereby residents will be able to pick up finished compost for their gardening needs.
While no one likes to see fees increase, it actually has been too long a time since the orange bag fees were reviewed for a possible increase. Residents are encouraged to maximize the amount of materials they are recycling and composting in order to reduce both personal and Town disposal costs.