Mandatory recycling bylaw will require revisions before it is enacted. That was the consensus of the Falmouth Solid Waste Advisory Committee which reviewed the draft bylaw on Tuesday, January 5.
While most of the draft bylaw sets rules and regulations for the permitting and operation of municipal and solid waste and recycling collection, several provisions of the bylaw pertain to residents.
One provision states that all generators of solid waste in town must separate from their rubbish all recyclables for separate collection and disposal. And all commercial generators and businesses shall be responsible for “ensuring that they do not contract for the indiscriminate disposal of recyclables or restricted materials with their rubbish.”
The draft regulation also states “The Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, shall require recycling effective January 01, 2021, for all municipal offices, single-family, two-family, multifamily residential dwellings and commercial businesses in town.”
The effective date reflects the age of the draft bylaw and will be changed when discussed by the board of health at a future meeting.
“In January of last year, 12 months ago, Peter Johnson-Staub, working with the board of health, Scott McGann and Peter McConarty, drafted the regulations we have here,” said Alan Robinson, chairman of the solid waste advisory committee. “COVID came up, and everything got put on hold.”
In order to accommodate mandatory recycling, changes must be made to the permitting process for solid waste haulers.
“Then it goes on and switches immediately back to say commercial haulers must provide recycling services to support this general edict here,” committee member Amy A. Roth said.
Committee member Ruth Brazier said commercial trash haulers have failed to provide this service.
“This is really targeting commercial haulers who, up until now, have not been providing recycling as included in their contracts with their customers here,” Ms. Brazier said.
Under the bylaw, they will be required to do so.
“It does say they should provide recycling services inclusive with solid waste collection,” Ms. Roth said. “They can’t offer you just trash. They can only offer you trash plus recycling.”
Ms. Brazier asked if anything in the bylaw prevents private haulers from charging extra for this combined service. There is not.
“It would not be an extra fee, I guess; it is just whatever their fee is, because they can only offer the one service,” Ms. Roth said.
Mr. Robinson noted private haulers can charge whatever they want for this service. The bylaw does not set prices. It does, however, set fines for permittees that fail to follow the regulations. For the first offense, a violator can receive a written warning. There is a $100 fine for a second offense and $300 fine for a third offense. After the fourth offense, a violator is subject to the potential revocation of its permit.
“The amount for offenses are daily amounts,” Mr. Robinson said. “While they don’t look that large, the fact that they are daily is significant.”
Committee member Marc J. Finneran said the fines will act as a deterrent.
“For anybody who is in business, that is going to seem like a lot of money,” Mr. Finneran said. “I think it is probably enough to entice them to clean up their act, because they aren’t going to be in business very long if they don’t.”
Ms. Roth said these fees only apply to the permittees, the haulers of solid waste and recycling.
“There is no enforcement here, in these regs at all, for the household or the business who doesn’t recycle,” she said.
Mr. Robinson said households subject to municipal collection that do not properly separate their trash and recyclables might not have their waste collected.
“We have other means, on a residential basis, to deal with it, basically leaving it behind,” he said.
The committee proposed several changes to the draft bylaw. One section of the bylaw, operational procedures, sets 10 procedural requirements for permittees. The committee recommended a procedural requirement for customers, requiring companies to maintain the areas around dumpsters and barrels.
Mr. Robinson said failure to maintain the area around dumpsters is a common problem, citing both the Island Queen parking lot on Scranton Avenue and West Falmouth Square (where the West Falmouth post office is).
“There is a lot of litter, and I shouldn’t say litter, there is a lot of crap that either has fallen out of dumpsters, or people have taken their trash and dumped it there,” he said. “It sits there, looking as litter, and it is really ugly,” he said.
If not codified elsewhere, Mr. Robinson said, he would like to see a provision obligating the owners or operators of dumpsters to keep the areas around the dumpsters trash- and litter-free.
He also recommended a provision requiring trash haulers to enclose their trash, whether it is within their trash vehicle or under a tarp or cover, to prevent it from falling out. Mr. Finneran said that action is required under state law.
Mr. Robinson said he has seen uncovered loads of solid waste hauled through Falmouth.
“He was asking for a ticket,” Mr. Finneran said. “They do pull them over. They were really enforcing it heavily about eight or 10 years ago. They would give out about a dozen tickets in one day.”
Ms. Roth asked about the insurance requirement. All permittees are required to have general public liability and property damage insurance, with a limit of liability of at least $1 million.
“The reason I felt $1 million was too low is it covers bodily injury and death to more than one person,” she said. “To me, it is absurd. If there is a death, it is going to cost more than $1 million, and the town will end up holding the bag for that.”
Mr. Finneran said in the event damages exceed more than $1 million, the victim would sue the private hauler above and beyond that insurance limit, rather than the town. He said the $1 million figure is set by state law.
“If it is state law, so be it, we can at least ask the question,” Mr. Robinson said.
The committee transmitted its comments and questions to Mr. Johnson-Staub, Mr. McConarty and Mr. McGann. Mr. Robinson said the board of health could discuss the draft rules and regulations for permitting and operation of municipal and commercial solid waste/recycling collection and mandatory recycling requirements as early as February.