Hamilton’sCurbside Organics ProgramA Grassroots approach towards zero waste Gretel Clark, Chair Hamilton Recycling Committee
Background Info HAMILTON WENHAM• Population = 8,ooo 5,000• Families 2,400 1,200• Square miles 15 8• Pop/sq. mile 554 546• Lots of open space so many households compost on their property• Both Towns vote Republican
Recycling History• 6 years ago, encouraged recycling, enforced waste bans, continued unlimited of solid waste• 4 years ago Hamilton, then Wenham (a year later), voted in a WRP (one free barrel: $1.75/bag for excess solid waste). Pay hauler through taxes.• 3 years ago instituted a pilot composting program involving 75 families for 8 weeks in winter – Implemented by volunteer Recycle committee in Hamilton. – Free bins and service to participants: weekly pick up of compost – Hauler and composter offered their services for free – Residents given free compost• Results of program revealed: – Average of 27lbs solid waste before organics collection. With organics, the participating households removed 10-12 lbs per week = 1/3 to ½ less! – With 81% of participants responding, 92% said that they would pay any where from $50-$100/year to have their organic waste picked up weekly.
Results of Larger Pilot Program• Two years ago, after 6 months of recruiting, a second organic waste program was introduced with 575 families participating and paying $75 for weekly pick up; many paying $29 for their counter top and roadside bins.• Hamilton administered the program for both towns.• Survey of participants after 8 months showed: – unqualified (94%) support at the same price. – program should be offered town-wide with an increase in the price of the solid waste overflow bags (73%) – composting program should be mandatory if free (54%) – 56% had taken advantage of the free compost offer.• Only two problems emerged: (they were solved) – Maggots in the summer—solved by freezing meat and cooked food until pick-up day; – Compost freezing to bottom of bin in winter—solved by bringing bin into house night before pick up day; or lining bin with lots of newspaper• Over time, more than 60 additional families paid for bins to participate.
Where are we going from here one week from today?• Hiltz will now haul organics for every family, adding it to their regular trash services. Will use split body truck for Recycling and Organics—at minimal additional cost.• Solid waste permitted per household is now down to ½ a free 33 gal. barrel/week (by reducing collection of solid waste to every other week).• Surplus waste must go into 33 gal. bag at $1.75 or a 16 gal. bag at $1.00 each.• Most of the cost of the compost bins will be paid for by grants and DEP assistance.
Benefits To The Town• Trash cost expected go down another 15-25%• New bag revenue from the PAYT program to help pay greater share of program costs• Potential to use the compost as fill for our landfill (currently slated to cost the town $2.4 million).• Longer term potential to install an anaerobic digester on the landfill site and accept other towns’ organics
Benefits To The Citizens• Free weekly curbside organics collection• Weekly single-stream pick up of recyclables• Continued access to free compost• A lowered tax rate by putting trash costs into an Enterprise Fund (off the tax).• Individual control over costs of disposal.
Benefits to the Environment• Maximizing incentives for reuse, reducing, recycling, returning organics to the earth, etc.• Cost is controlled by each family
Lessons Learned• Households dispose of 10-12 lbs of organics weekly,• Weekly collection of organics removes 1/3 to ½ the weight of solid waste in a PAYT/WRP community!• Where there’s a will, a volunteer program can create conditions to start a new program.• Approaching a new program by steps may be the best way to go (i.e. pilots.)
Key Ingredients for Success• Access to a local compost facility for organics• Willing participants in a pilot program to provide proof of concept to town officials• Cooperative relationship with hauler.• Help from State DEP, both financially and technical assistance.• Step by step process
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