Watertown Officials Moving Toward a New Way of Picking Up Trash, Recycling

Residents will get one toter for trash and one for all the recycling. Town Council debating how to handle bulky items.

Watertown residents will have a new trash and recycling system starting sometime next year, which give them one barrel for trash and another for all recyclable items. What will happen with bulky items that do not fit into the trash toter remains up in the air.

The town will move to the "single-stream" recycling, which allows cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum and other recyclable items to go in the same barrel. The move is one to encourage people to recycle, said Town Councilor John Donohue at Tuesday's Council meeting, That will save money for the town by cutting the amount of trash to be disposed.

New trash trucks will be purchased that have mechanized arms that pick up the 64-gallon trash and recycling toters. The trucks will not be able to pick up items that do not fit into the barrels, said Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee, including furniture and other large items.

Bulky Items

Currently, residents can put out items like sofas and furniture and the town will pick them up for free.

Because the new trucks will not be able to pickup the big items, the town may go with a system where residents need to schedule a pick up, be limited to just one item a week and possibly must pay for the pickup.

These scenarios rubbed some councilors the wrong way.

People are used to putting out almost any item to be picked up for free, said Town Councilor John Lawn. He worries about people accepting the new system with limited numbers of bulk items and paying to have them collected.

"I am concerned, I don't want it to become so complicated," Lawn said. "It will be a major shock to people used to putting anything out they want."

Large Trash Piles

Councilor Vincent Piccirilli wants to prevent large piles of trash, often seen in Watertown when people move out or do a major cleaning.

"There needs to be a limit and a penalty for doing it," Piccirilli said.

Who would enforce the penalties remains up in the air, too. The police might issue tickets, and the Health Department also could be involved, but likely only in situation where something poses a health risk.

Councilor Cecilia Lenk said she also wants to do away with the large scale clean outs, but people will have to get used to the new system.

"Education will be a key to this," Lenk said. "We are moving away from a system that people have been used to for years."

Council President Mark Sideris said one of his concerns is the additional work that could be placed on town employees.

After telling departments the town does not have money to add staff to the Police Department and other departments, Sideris said he does not want to add more tasks to police officers or the Public Works Department.


The new program will not be starting for at least six months, said Town Manager Michael Driscoll.

"It will be after the winter," Driscoll said. "Toters will not show up in October or November."

The council voted to accept many of the proposed changes, but did not approve any items regarding fines, fees, penalties or bulk items.

A joint subcommittee of the Committee on Rules and Ordinances and the Public Works Committee will discuss the trash and recycling rules later this month.

Cliff Cook August 11, 2011 at 12:58 PM
For what its worth, the town already has single stream recycling. Just ask the guys tossing the stuff in trucks. A few months ago I saw my carefully separated recycling being placed together in the truck. When I asked the driver he told me that his company was already using single stream recycling and had been doing so for some time. Cliff Cook
Paul Angiolillo August 11, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Cliff, thanks. It always seemed like it was single-stream recycling already to me. So that part wouldn't be new. Keeping all recyclables cleaner and drier in covered bins should make a difference though.
Wendy Rocca August 14, 2011 at 02:17 PM
How can you punish people for cleaning out their homes/basements? What about move in/outs? What will the accommondations be for this? Is "excessive" recycling bad?
Charlie Breitrose August 15, 2011 at 12:53 PM
That's a good question, Wendy. Sometimes people have a need to get rid of a lot of stuff, but the Town Councilors seem set on stopping the large piles of trash that appear on the sides of the road in Watertown.
Marian Ferro August 15, 2011 at 09:49 PM
I think this new system will be a problem for residents. A 64 gallon toter will be tough to for many of us to maneuver, even if it is on wheels. Anyone who is small, elderly, disabled would have difficulty. If one's house is on hilly ground, that would cause additional problems. From what I have heard from the system being used in other towns, the toter must be placed in a certain way at the curb or the truck can't automatically pick it up, That will be a problem in the winter when snowbanks are everywhere, and could even be a problem other times of the year depending on the configuration in front of a house,


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