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Westboro eyes pay-as-you-throw trash system; Program encourages recycling, officials say.

Byline: Donna Boynton

WESTBORO - The town is considering a pay-as-you-throw trash program, a move that officials said could reduce the town's trash bill and encourage recycling.

The town first began talking about the move from transfer station trash drop-off to pay as you throw two years ago and resurrected the idea last summer, said Town Manager James Malloy. Changing the trash system is under review by a subcommittee consisting of Selectmen Leigh Emery and Timothy Dodd, Mr. Malloy, Director of Public Health Paul McNulty and Board of Health member Dr. Alan Elrich.

The town was prompted to review its trash service because of a low recycling rate and also to possibly provide a more convenient service for town residents.

Currently, town residents can buy a transfer station, or dump, sticker for $120, which is valid for two years, to take their trash or any recyclables to land set aside at E.L. Harvey & Sons on Hopkinton Road. All of that trash is compacted and then taken to Wheelabrator in Millbury, where it is burned.

If residents choose not to use the transfer station, they can contract privately with a trash hauler to pick up trash at their home.

Mr. Malloy said the town has only about a 20 percent recycling rate, which has environmental and financial impact. Westboro is charged $75 per ton of trash that is brought to Wheelabrator to be incinerated.

Less recycling increases the amount and weight of the trash, thereby increasing the cost. Last year, the town paid Wheelabrator $425,000.

Under the proposal being considered by the town, residents would buy town-specific trash bags, and a curbside single-stream recycling service would be provided.

"In the long run, this would reduce the burden on the property tax base for sanitation services and is also much easier for residents," Mr. Malloy said in an email, adding that the subcommittee has been reviewing pay-as-you-throw programs in Grafton and Northboro.

The town meets on Wednesday with the two companies it is considering working with under a pay-as-you-throw system: Waste Zero, the company that supplies the bags to be sold, collects the revenues and then pays the town for the bag sales; and E.L. Harvey & Sons, which currently provides curbside and single stream recycling pickup in Grafton.

Mr. McNulty said bag fees vary per town, but average between $1 and $1.75, and stickers can be bought to dispose of items that do not fit in the bags, such as lawn mowers or sofas.

"The bag fees are set to try to cover the cost of program," Mr. McNulty said.

Mr. McNulty added that the fate of the transfer station, should the town adopt a pay-as-you-throw program, has not been discussed.

Based on a comparison with Grafton (with greater recycling and trash bag sales), the town projects a potential reduction in the property tax burden of between $250,000 and $300,000 annually, Mr. Malloy said.

After next week, the subcommittee will further review the proposal and likely make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen in the spring, and any changes would not take effect until later this year, Mr. Malloy said.

A public hearing would be held before any changes are adopted, Mr. McNulty said.

Contact Donna Boynton at or follow her on Twitter @DonnaBoyntonTG
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 22, 2013
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