PAYT emerges as option in Westborough’s trash and recycling collection

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PAYT emerges as option in Westborough’s trash and recycling collection
E.L. Harvey/Waste Connections has decided to shut down public access to its transfer station after June 2024. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

WESTBOROUGH – It’s too soon to choose a color for those pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) bags, but PAYT will be part of the town’s future in trash and recycling collection.

During the Select Board meeting on Dec. 6, members of the Waste Management Exploratory Committee presented its options and recommendations.

According to the Waste Management Exploratory Committee, the average household in town generates 2,700 pounds of trash. The town is currently paying $46/ton for trash, and $77.78/ton for tipping fees at Wheelabrator to Harvey’s/Waste Connections.

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Much of what is tossed or incinerated, such as food waste, can be diverted from the waste stream, leading to lower costs, according to the committee.

Should such programs be implemented, the trash and tipping fees could be cut by as much as half.

The options presented to the Select Board include:

  • Voluntary curbside program with Harvey’s/Waste Connections for trash and recycling. The town would continue to pay Harvey’s/Waste Connections for per-ton waste handling fee and tipping fee at Wheelabrator.
  • Voluntary curbside program with Harvey’s/Waste Connections for trash only. The town would continue to pay Harvey’s/Waste Connections for per-ton waste handling fee and tipping fee at Wheelabrator; town funds curbside recycling and food waste.
  • Town-contracted curbside program for trash, recycling and food waste with Harvey’s.
  • Town-contracted curbside program for trash, recycling and food waste with another hauler, to be determined.

Under the first three options, the transfer station would be open for trash, food waste and items currently on the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) waste ban, such as mattresses. Under the fourth option, should the town decide on another vendor, the transfer station would not be available.

More about options two and four

Committee members recommended the town further explore options two and four. It also recommended pay-as-you-throw, as well as some type of food waste collection program.

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Under the second option, the resident would pay the annual fee for use of the transfer station, and for PAYT bags. Trash, recycling, food waste and DEP ban items will continue to be collected at the transfer station. 

For curbside, the resident would pay Harvey’s/Waste Connections for trash collection only; the town would pay for collection of recycling and food waste. All one- to three-family households would have their recycling and food waste collected at the curb.

The resident would also pay for PAYT bags.

Under the fourth option, only waste items banned by DEP would be collected at the transfer station, or another location should the town choose another hauler.

For curbside, the town would contract for collection of trash, recycling and food waste; the resident would pay for PAYT bags; and all one- to three-family households will have full curbside service.

The next steps

The board voted to accept the recommendations and have the town manager further explore the financial costs for the two options. Those costs should be better known in January, when a draft plan is presented and reviewed. 

Should a plan be approved, the Waste Management Exploratory Committee would assist with educating residents about the program, which would begin on July 1, 2024.

For more information about the WMEC, visit https://www.westboroughma.gov/610/Waste-Management-Exploratory-Committee.

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