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DPW Director Says 64-Gallon Totes Will be Big Enough for Residents' Weekly Trash

The key to reducing trash is more recycling, said Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee.

When Watertown's new trash and recycling program begins on Aug. 6, residents will have to fit all their trash in the 64-gallon toter, and they will get a recycling toter of the same size. Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee said those will be enough for Watertown families.

Mee said he has received many calls from people worried they won't be able to fit all their trash in the toter. One such resident, Charles Benson of Partridge Street, said he thinks there will be 10 to 15 times a year he will go over the 64-gallon limit.

"I like the idea of the new trash/recycling program, but it is an 80 percent solution," Benson said at Tuesday's Town Council meeting. "It does not address likley overages. I feel constrained. I am concerned I will have to store garbage until the next collection."

Looking at what people throw out each week, Mee said he has observed that most households do not throw away a large amount most of the time.

"The majority of residents of the town throw away about one bag of trash," Mee said. "That not a huge amount of trash. The 64-gallon toters fit three (big) green trash bags or eight small kitchen-size bags."

Recycling a Key

The key, Mee said, is to recycle as much as possible. , and all different kinds of recycling can be placed in the same toter, Mee said.

"Sixty-four gallons is a good amount (of trash) if a household is recycling properly," Mee said.

One of the main goals of the new program, Mee said, is to cut down the amount paid by the town for solid waste disposal by increasing the amount of recycling.

Each legal address will received the two toters, Mee said, so a two-family home will received two sets of toters, for instance.

Some of the Town Councilors shared Benson's concern. Town Council Vice President Steve Corbett said all households are not alike.

"There is a big difference between a household of eight compared to a household of one," Corbett said, adding that he would like to see an option of people being able to drop off garbage at the town's recycling center if they have too much.

If the garbage will not fit after all the recycling is taken out, Mee said, he said that people could ask if neighbors have room in their toters. 

Other Worries

Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she has heard from people who are older and worry about pulling the toters to the curb, especially if they have to go up stairs.

Though the toters are big, Mee said they are well balanced and can easily be wheeled. He added that he and his department will try to solve any problems that come up.

As for people's old trash barrels, Mee suggested that people use them for yard waste, and that way they won't have to use paper bags. Otherwise, residents can bring the old barrels to the Public Works at 124 Orchard Street and the DPW will dispose of them.

Once the program gets rolling, Mee said he is confident it will work.

"The program works in a lot of communities. It is based on a program started 20 years ago in California," Mee said. "We are not reinventing the wheel."

John DiMascio June 28, 2012 at 12:29 PM
The Town should make provisions for people that have additional trash. Since they are talking about moving the Recycling Center, they should add a large dumpster where people can bring trash that won't fit in their container. Even if they have to charge a couple of dollar per bag.
Sonny Beaches June 28, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Gerald knows Garbage...
zip zen June 28, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Dont think you get it. The provision is the recycling bin. Try recycling it take almost no effort once you start, especially with it being single stream. If you put all recyclable material in you will probably find that you may need a second bin for recycling not trash.
Vinnie Dummerino June 28, 2012 at 06:06 PM
DPW Superintendent Mee wants to start his own Watertown Cap-and-Trade program between residents (oh boy). I have yet to see people on my street putting out one trash bag a week which raises the questions of what statistics actually are being used to come up with 2 containers per address and how. My guess it is wing-it off the hip subjective estimates that will bear little relationship to Watertown facts. Next, i am paying for 1 3 bag barrel per week; what about the weeks I only have 1 bag; where is my 2 bag rollover credit for the next week or later: this program is like a very,very bad cell phone contract where I am getting wacked on the ration I paid for. The point here is that trash is variable and not constant as this program touters, sellers,and Mee are implicitly assuming and the concerns of Charlie Benson are very real and going to be a problem and shouldn't be stonewalled and poo-pooed like Mee is doing as he is trying to sell us a pig in a polk. Council Corbett at least understands this and is correct about every neighborhood having public dumpsters for overages OR giving every address 2 trash barrel and 1 recyclable barrel and increasing the curb side pick up to 2 barrels a week. There will still be problems like people moving but pubklic dumpsters will help with that.
Vinnie Dummerino July 01, 2012 at 06:03 PM
it occurred to me this morning, that every week that your rationed trash barrel is not full, you, me, we, the town are paying this company for collecting NOTHING and then we have to pay again to be rid of any overage with have on heavy weeks. The logic of this program and this programmed is wacked, really. What has Superintendent Mee brought us really. And the logic that something that 'worked' in California will work here is more than questionable and is in fact naive. I really think that the town should have town dumpsters in each neighborhood for the overage and that the company should empty those dumpster twice week as part of the existing contract at no additional cost. Residents are "getting hammered" with this program (where is Warren when you need here??). Of course, another solution would be to have the trash collected more than once a week in each neighorhood; why wasn't that alternative considered??
Elodia Thomas July 02, 2012 at 10:29 PM
What happens when tenants move out of their apartments? My very nice ex-neighbors across the street just moved out but left behind a huge pile of stuff they no longer needed. It's waiting for trash day this coming Thursday. How will the town handle this? Is it on landlords to have clauses in their lease to charge tenants for this trash removal. Who's responsible? Another burden for small property owners?
Sonny Beaches July 03, 2012 at 03:16 AM
That's what a security deposit is for. If the "nice neighbors" leave crap behind, their deposit pays for the removal.
Rob_Mc July 03, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Having a dog I walk around town a lot and it amazes me how many people recycle NOTHING. Not that I go around prying in other peoples trash but I frequently see cardboard and recycle bottles in their regular trash barrels, and not one recycle bin.. If people actually recycled they wouldn't need 6 barrels for trash.
barbara r July 04, 2012 at 03:13 PM
So much can be recycled if you think about it. We use two 64 gallon containers for recycling and fill them every two weeks. Our trash is very little. I am more concerned that there won't be room for recycling. We can never fit it all into one 64 gal can. What to do about that? It is so easy to recycle and you can recycle nearly all your trash! My mom lives in California and they've been doing machine liftable totes for many years and it works. In fact, I had an especially heavy cardboard week and the local recycler lifted it by machine right here in Watertown last winter.

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