By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Public Health Director Steven Baccari and Irene Congdon, recycling coordinator from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP), gave a presentation detailing a proposed program called SMART (Save Money and Reduce Trash) to the Westborough Board of Selectmen at its Aug. 23 meeting. A committee was convened over a year ago to study the issue of low recycling rates in Westborough.
The presentation covered the trash/recycling issue, an overview of SMART, grants that are available, and current versus proposed budget. Westborough has one of the highest trash rates in central Massachusetts. The town generates over 2,100 pounds per household per year. The average is 1,300 pounds per household. Only about 14 percent of what is in the trash is actual trash. Electronics, hazardous waste, metal, paper and plastic makes up the rest and could be recycled.
Material management goals are to provide a town-wide uniform curbside trash and recycling program, reduce trash, provide convenience for all residents and a more equitable fee based on amount of trash disposed. SMART operates like a utility with unit-based pricing that promotes recycling and is widely used throughout the commonwealth. How much you use is how much you pay. Currently there is no real recycling incentive at the transfer station. According to presenters, SMART is effective, equitable, environmentally friendly and economical.
The current solid waste system is a combination of drop off at a transfer station and curbside through a contract with Tidy Town at 5,276 tons. With the proposed plan there would be weekly curbside trash collection in approved bags which will cost $1 or $2. Current recycling is every other week with Tidy Town or drop off. Under the new plan recycling would be every other week curbside at a combined savings of approximately $244,000.
The Sustainable Material Recycling Program (SMRP) from the state offers one-time grants and yearly grants to help communities reach their goals of trash reduction and recycling increase. This program is funded by renewable energy tax credits.
Board of Selectmen Chair Ian Johnson and Selectman Denny Drewry thanked Baccari and Congdon for their presentation. More study and a public hearing will be the next steps in advancing this initiative.