Just as suspected, the town’s newly adopted pay as you throw trash program has reduced trash and increased recycling at the transfer station.
Last night, Director of the Department of Public Works Paul S. Tilton gave selectmen an overview of the first six months of the program.
Mr. Tilton said that since the program was implemented in July, the amount of solid waste going into the transfer station has dropped dramatically, from a 506 tons in July 2010 compared to just 252 tons in July of this year. The volume of solid waste remained low even during the months of November and December, which have historically been very busy in terms of trash disposal.
According to DPW foreman Stefan E. Masse, there was no line of cars waiting to get into the transfer station in the days after the Christmas holiday this year. Mr. Masse said prior to the implementation of the pay as you throw program, traffic volume following the holiday was always high.
"Typically, we have to devote the majority of the DPW employees to the transfer station. Traffic volume was significantly lower than in previous years. Pay as you throw has to be the reason," Mr. Masse said.
He explained that because there is less solid waste going into the trailer, it does not have to be compacted as often or emptied as often. And because the trailer is not being emptied as often, he said, there is less wear and tear on the equipment.
As the volume for solid waste has gone down, the recycling numbers have gone up. Mr. Tilton said there has been a 65 percent increase in the recycling of items such as bottles and cans and a 36 percent increase in recycling of paper.
"Many people who were not in favor of the pay as you throw program before we implemented it, are happy with it now. Some residents have commented that they can't believe how much they are recycling," Mr. Tilton said. He added that other residents are surprised at how infrequently they have to come to the transfer station.
While the numbers for solid waste and recyclables were what town officials had expected, the revenue generated from bag sales was not.
The actual revenue generated from the sale of bags over a six month period was $127,699, much lower than the projected $208,101.
Town Manager George H. Dunham noted that it is difficult to predict what could happen over the next six months. He also pointed out that the savings from tipping fees could offset the lower than projected revenues.
Last year from July 1 through December 31, the town spent $158,224 in tipping fees. For the same period of time this year, the town paid $93,032, representing a cost avoidance or savings of $65,192.
The town also realized a savings in terms of the cost to dispose of bulky or non-routine items. From July 1 through December 31, 2010, the town spent $25,425 to dispose of bulky items. For the same period this year, the town spent only $6,825.
Mr. Tilton said overall the program is working very well and the town has realized several benefits from the program. He said traffic volume is down by 20 percent since the program began and because people are making less trips to the transfer station, it has freed up some of his employees to work on other projects.