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Subcommittee Rejects Idea of Weekly Recycling; Watertown's Recycling Rate Up

Watertown residents have increased their recycling significantly, while reducing the amount of trash thrown out.

Watertown residents have taken to the new recycling program like gangbusters, and some have filled their recycling barrel for the biweekly collection, but the Town Council's Public Works Committee will not recommend moving to weekly recycling pickup.

The cost of adding weekly recycling pickup would bee too high, the subcommittee decided, but they plan to offer some residents the opportunity to purchase a second recycling bin - also called toters.

The town's new trash and recycling program began in early August, and the change in disposal habits has been noticeable, said Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee. The amount of trash being thrown away is down 23 percent, and the amount of recycling is up 35 percent. 

"Considering the whole town switched over at one time, I think the program has gone over exceptionally well," Mee said.

Some residents, however, find that the 64-gallon bins do not hold all their recycling for a two week period.

Republic Waste Services, which collects the trash and recycling in Watertown, walked the streets to see how people were using their bins, said Chris Peters, general manager for Republic's Boston office. 

Most people did not fill their bins completely, Peter said, and about 10 percent filled them and maximized space inside. Some of those who filled the bins could have fit more recyclables inside, Peters said.

"They were not squishing water bottles, they were not breaking down boxes," Peters said.

The cost of moving from recycling pick up every two weeks to weekly is $295,000, Mee said. That would wipe out the $158,000 savings from the new trash/recycling program, said Town Councilor Vincent Piccirilli.

"If we go to weekly recycling it is a $300,000 swing," Piccirilli said. "Many wanted to go to weekly, but it really comes down to finance."

For those who have used every bit of space, the subcommittee wanted to offer the chance to buy a second recycling toter. How much it will cost is not certain, but a one-time fee would be charged and the bin can be used for the five years of the town's contract with Republic, Mee said. It will likely be under $180.

Another option will be to take extra recycling to the town's Recycling Center, when it opens, said Town Council President Mark Sideris. The new center should open soon, but weather and costs have delayed the construction of the new facility on Stanley Avenue, Mee said.

Purchasing a second bin should not be the first priority, Mee said. 

"I don't want people getting it for convenience so they don't have to crush things," Mee said. "If they are crushing (bottles and boxes) then we can offer the opportunity to purchase a second toter."

The Public Works Committee voted to ask town staff to come up with a plan for and figure out the cost of offering an additional recycling bin to be purchased by residents.

Subcommittee members also want efforts to be made to show people how to maximize the space in the recyling bins.

Gary M December 11, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I think that's fair. If you need another recycling toter you can purchase one for $180.00. That way only the people that need them (large families) can absorb the cost.
Dawn December 16, 2012 at 06:43 PM
It said nothing about crusging boxes & bottles in the pamplets. Will it be collected this week? Some,like I have not enough 2 fill it. Thanks. Happy holidays!
John DiMascio December 16, 2012 at 07:01 PM
According Councilor Donahue the DPW informed him that less then 10% of the households are maximizing their recycling totes. So perhaps it's time for neighbors to getting to know one another. People that consistently have extra space in their recycling tote, make an effort to let the neighborhood know. Let your neighbors use up the space. And perhaps those Councilors and organizations in town who are constantly sermonizing about the environment, and the neo-pagan mythology of anthropogenic global warming, should put their time to better use. Let them organize an effort get people to share their extra space in their totes.

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