With an eye to making the system more fair and increasing recycling rates, the town of Weston is on its way to implementing a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) system of trash disposal.
Because residents will have to pay per bag, instead of a simple annual flat fee regardless of the amount of trash disposed, it will incentivize them to throw away less trash and recycle more, say town officials.
But at the Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday night, where the topic was briefly discussed with Department of Public Works Director Bob Hoffman, one resident wasn't happy about the idea at all.
"What bothers me about this program is that it is at its core, a monopoly, because why else would anyone else pay six times the cost for a bag?" said Bill Sandalls.
The bags in question are the bags that residents will have to use in order to dispose of trash in Weston, should the PAYT program go through. According to the town's website, the bags will cost $2 per 33-gallon bag and $1 per 15-gallon bag and will be for sale at , , in Weston and .
In addition to paying per bag, residents will also have to pay an annual $75 permit fee, with seniors paying $25.
Sandalls said he objected to the mandatory use of the bags and called the measure "coercive" several times.
But Selectman Michael Harrity disagreed with Sandalls' claim.
"To say that you're paying six times for the bag, its retail price, is just ridiculous. You're paying for the right to dispose [of the trash]," Harrity countered.
Harrity said the merchants listed above were happy to sell the bags and have been on board from the beginning. He mentioned the state has mandated that retailers can't add any additional fees to the bags' price. And what will likely end up happening is that more people will start shopping more at local merchants, buying other goods besides the trash bags, he said.
"Well, I got a different answer," said Sandalls, but would not specify who he had talked to.
The board decided to hold a public hearing at their next meeting, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, to garner more public input about the matter. The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at Town Hall.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT PAY-AS-YOU-THROW TRASH IN WESTON
- About 132 communities in Massachusetts have already implemented such a system, including Wayland and Sudbury. Weston town officials say that PAYT systems can increase recycling rates by about 20 to 27 percent. Weston's rate has held steady for the last several years at about 38 to 42 percent.
- Residents can pay for “recycling only” stickers, which will be $25 annually.
- There is no limit on the number of bags that residents wish to throw away, but each bag must be paid for.
- Residents can throw away a “reasonable” amount of oversized items, like mattresses or furniture, without any additional charges, so long as they already have a transfer station permit sticker.
- Hoffman said the bags the town has selected for PAYT are made of partially-recycled materials.