CITY OF NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS Solid Waste Reduction and Management Task ForceMeeting MinutesMeeting Date: Monday, March 14, 2011Committee Members Present: Terry Culhane, Board of Public Works; Mark Carmien, Co-Chair;Wendy Foxmyn, Co-Chair; Marianne LaBarge, Ward 6 Councilor; Mimi Odgers, Water Not Waste;Donna Salloom, Board of Health; Rosemary Schmidt, Board of Public Works.Staff Present: Jim Laurila, City Engineer; Karen Bouquillon, Solid Waste Supervisor; DavidVeleta, Assistant Environmental Engineer; Arlene Miller, Massachusetts Department ofEnvironmental Protection Municipal Assistance Coordinator.Others Present: A sign-in sheet was not circulated at this Task Force meeting.Wendy Foxmyn called the meeting to order at 6:30 pm.Public CommentRichard Guzowski expressed his hope the Task Force “got it” from the two public forums. He saidthe Task Force was stuck in a “decision paralysis” and questioned when the group would haveenough information to recommend closing the drop-off centers or go to curbside collection. Headvised Locust Street should remain open, and to forget everything else with the exception ofexpanding the City’s waste reduction efforts. He encouraged the Task Force to stop going around incircles and take a straw vote…in secret if need be.Review/Acceptance of 3/7/11 MinutesMark Carmien questioned whether he had seconded the minutes or not on 3/7/11. When the videoof the meeting is available, this will be checked and corrected if necessary. Terry Culhane moved toaccept the minutes and Marianne LaBarge seconded the motion. The 3/7/11 minutes were acceptedby consensus. Note: the agendas, minutes and all resources distributed to the Task Force areposted on the Solid Waste Reduction & Management Task Force website athttp://www.northamptonma.gov/solidwaste. The Task Force also has a Google Group athttp://groups.google.com/group/solid-waste-reduction--management-task-force?hl=en.Discuss Public ForumsThere were 92 attendees at the 3/7/11 forum and 70 at the 3/11/11 forum, with some overlap ofparticipants. W. Foxmyn said both had gone very well. M. LaBarge said it was critical for herdecision-making process to hear from the taxpayers, noting there was a greater diversity ofcomments at the second forum. Mimi Odgers said it would have been valuable to have held publicforums prior to the start of the Task Force meetings; there were many ideas raised that the TaskForce hadn’t talked about. In response to one of her examples (e.g., problems with narrow streets),T. Culhane and W. Foxmyn agreed trash trucks can handle narrow/dead end streets. M. Odgersdisagreed, saying narrow streets get narrower in the winter, and trash gets buried by the snowplows.
M. Carmien said whatever recommendations are made, they will not be the last incarnation. Newtechnologies are constantly evolving, costs change, awareness about consumerism and wasteminimization will increase, etc. He thought a chipper/shredder going around the City was a greatidea.M. Odgers said timetables and goals need to be set. While the City is in the trash business, there isno incentive to push recycling, and this will change.W. Foxmyn read questions that had been posed at the public forums for further consideration by theTask Force:What recyclables make money for the City?T. Culhane said while it is true recycling makes money, overall it is still an expense. However,recycling is not as expensive as disposal. Karen Bouquillon agreed, and added that the City isguaranteed $15.67/ton for recyclables sent to the Springfield MRF, and there is also a revenueshare. The City is currently receiving $46.43/ton for MRF recyclables.Where will Northampton’s trash go after the landfill closes?Arlene Miller responded that there are several local landfills (Granby, Chicopee and South Hadley),but all of these are slated to close in the near future. Covanta has waste-to-energy (WTE) facilitiesin Springfield and Pittsfield. Allied Waste ships waste to OH and SC from a transfer facility inIndian Orchard. Many local transfer stations are shipping waste to Seneca Falls NY (nearSyracuse). There is also a Wheelabrator WTE facility in Millbury. She said the waste at WTEfacilities is screened for radioactive waste, incineration reduces the volume of waste by 80%, andmetal is taken out at the back end. In Springfield the residual ash is landfilled at Bondi’s Island.The tip fees at WTE facilities are generally at market rate, but there’s a difference betweencontracted rates vs. spot market rates. M. Carmien said where Northampton’s trash is going shouldbe advertised at the transfer stations and on billboards. A. Miller explained the City’s trash mightgo to points A, B, C and then D; the destination may be constantly changing. W. Foxmyn notedthat in terms of environmental justice, it is a catch 22 if people are living anywhere near thesedisposal facilities. Donna Salloom said some things are easier to write into an RFP (e.g., includingthe use of non-motorized collection vehicles), but requiring the use of a specific disposal facilitywas more difficult to control. Jim Laurila said as a baseline, the City could require proof that thedisposal facility(s) are permitted/certified/licensed by the State and Federal agencies. The Citycould also specify WTE only, landfilling only, or in-State only. He added when waste generationdecreases (due to a variety of causes, including a poor economy), WTE facilities get preferencebecause they must operate at or near capacity. M. Carmien said the Task Force was charged withmaking recommendations about waste collection options, not disposal options.How would dumpsters that the City currently provides for volunteer/community cleanup projects bepaid for once the landfill closes?T. Culhane said the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund (SWEF) will decrease when the landfill closes,and that City programs would have to generate a healthy surplus to continue to provide these typesof services. He added stark choices may need to be made in the future. J. Laurila said the answer tothat question could not be determined now; it will depend on the availability of employees, 2
equipment and revenues at that time. M. Odgers stated the SWEF could be flush with cash if theCity would move ahead with solar power at the landfill- we are missing the boat by waiting. M.LaBarge stated that Option 1 is huge for the public. At last Friday’s forum, one of the participantstalked about managing dog waste. She though it was a good idea to organize cleanup days and havethe barrels picked up by the City.Why can’t the remaining capacity of the landfill be restricted to Northampton residents only?T. Culhane replied the landfill is regulated by State and Federal agencies as a regional facility; thelandfill is permitted to accept 50,000 tons per year (TPY), but there is a breakeven point somewherearound 40,000 TPY. The landfill would be operating at a loss at less than that. Certain financialobligations have to be met. He said Northampton’s facility is “a little hobby landfill; they don’tcome smaller than ours.” Roe Schmidt added if the landfill served only Northampton, it would bevery expensive or perhaps not feasible at all. M. Odgers said the City received funds from the Stateto build a regional landfill in the 1990’s. J. Laurila cleared up confusion about where thecommunity host fee comes from, saying that these funds are transferred from the SWEF to theCity’s general fund.Why can’t the Locust Street Transfer Station be the one to remain open for Options 3 or 4 (whichpropose that only Glendale Road remain open)?J. Laurila said the Task Force could discuss this as an option. There are pros and cons- the LocustStreet site is centrally located, but it has more limitations than Glendale Road. R. Schmidt addedthere is not enough room at Locust Street to handle difficult to manage waste, and there is a lotgoing on at the DPW yard already.In what way is a City curbside collection a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) system?T. Culhane said different size totes and unit-based bags for overflow could be used. A. Milleradded that PAYT bags could also be used exclusively.Why is there not an option 5 that closes both transfer stations and lets residents rely on the ValleyRecycling facility?M. Carmien stated Valley Recycling remains an alternative for anyone, under all of the optionsunder consideration.D. Salloom offered a summary of the correspondence that had been sent to the Task Force to date:(2) commitment to maximizing reduction, recycling and diversion of waste from the waste stream,(3) support of Pay-As-You-Throw; (1) bags to be purchased at local stores; (1) multiple local"neighborhood” recycling centers; (1) increase from serving 1-4 units to 1-5+ units; (1) anymunicipal plan should include organics (compost) collection; (2) divert reusable and salvageableitems; (1) need-based discounts; (2) support for citywide composting; (2) concern about bears andother animals; (9) support for Pedal People, non-motorized options; (1) disposal of pet waste; (2)favor Option 2; (1) favor Option 3.D. Salloom noted 50% of the City’s residents currently have curbside collection, but they were notrepresented at the public forums. The word got out to residents that use the drop-off centers, but notto others. T. Culhane said thousands of people are voting for curbside by spending $400/year ormore on this service. M. Carmien stated that it was not mutually exclusive. 3
W. Foxmyn asked, “What additional information do we need to make a decision?” R. Schmidtsuggested knowing more about air quality; could the impact of service by a single hauler becompared to the impact of having six haulers? After some discussion, W. Foxmyn said it was a safeassumption that multiple haulers would emit more pollution than a single hauler. M. Odgers addedhaving a single hauler would not eliminate all of the other haulers.W. Foxmyn said one thing that came through in the hearing is people don’t like change. Thissuggested to her that phasing in an implementation plan over time might make the most sense.Changes to Table 1M. Carmien explained that the “1 person household” had been changed back to “senior household”,and why the trash generation rates of the different size households wasn’t linear. A. Miller pointedout that DEP has a bunch of numbers, and the household generation rates should not be interpretedtoo scientifically. They should be used in a more general way by asking, what do you generate?Discussion topicsM. Odgers asked if CPA money could be used for developing the MassHighway site, and theanswer was no, because it is not related to historic/housing/recreational/open space criteria. T.Culhane said if the State handed over the deed tomorrow, the costs to prepare the site could easilyreach $1million (building teardown, pavement, traffic control, salt shed, access roads, etc.). He saidthe DPW is continuing to pursue it, hopefully with fewer restrictions and liabilities. J. Laurilaagreed it would be costly to acquire it; there is an old landfill that needs to be capped on the site,and the City doesn’t have the money to cover these costs. R. Schmidt said the site was not arelevant option at this time; and there was no surety it will be in the future. M. Carmien stated theCity’s Reuse Committee identified it as an ideal site for a reuse facility (to be called the “Re-BayCenter”). M. Odgers pointed out the concept of a resource recovery park has a lot of public support.R. Schmidt asked if the Task Force could recommend waste reduction, organics diversion (etc)without getting into specifics about how these would be implemented. D. Salloom replied whateverthe Task Force decides to do, that a strong message must be to increase recycling and reduce wastein easy, simple ways. To be feasible, it must be cost-effective and financially self-supporting.Unit-based pricing accomplishes all of these goals.W. Foxmyn referred the Task Force to the document David Starr had prepared, which providedmore specifics about waste reduction, education and other initiatives. M. LaBarge agreed with D.Starr’s suggestions. J. Laurila mentioned the BPW had appointed a Solid Waste Action Committee(SWAC) 1-1/2 years ago, with an ongoing charge to increase public education and outreach efforts.R. Schmidt spoke briefly about what the SWAC is working on, and she mentioned David Starrserves on this committee as well.M. Odgers referred to K. Bouquillon’s idea to issue an RFP for an organics processing facility at thelandfill, favoring anaerobic digestion systems. She asked why the City had returned the DEP grantto process source-separated organics (SSO’s) at the landfill several years ago. J. Laurila reviewedthe Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s project that is attempting to address the region’s needfor SSO processing capacity. K. Bouquillon said the City never accepted the DEP grant funding 4
because the landfill expansion project was moving forward on the same parcel that was needed forthe composting operation, and the window of opportunity closed too quickly. M. Odgers statedorganic materials are heavy to move, and any processing facility should be in a more centrallocation.Related to the issue of discounts, there was consensus the Task Force recommend that a system ofneeds-based (not age-based) discounts be formulated. M. Carmien stated the Mayor was not awareof any existing program in the City that could be used for this purpose, and any new discountprogram should not increase administrative burdens.Difficult to manage wastes (bulky items or materials that cannot fit into a bag or barrel, wasteprohibited from disposal, hazardous wastes, etc.) were discussed. M. Carmien noted these wouldhave to be managed one way or another under all 4 options. M. Odgers questioned whether the Citywas covering the cost of recycling electronics at the landfill, and M. Carmien said there if the costsare too high, the risk of illegal dumping increases. A. Miller explained that the electronics recyclerthe City uses is on the State Contract for Universal Wastes. M. Carmien distributed a handout aboutthe Basel Action Network and his intention to make a recommendation to the City about using avendor that is a certified “e-steward”.M. Carmien asked why the population served was defined as 1-4 family units. J. Laurila repliedthis was not a recommendation; it was used a basis for calculating costs and it is the population thatis most commonly served by municipalities. A. Miller said historically, curbside programs fundedby taxes served 1-4 family units for financial reasons. The larger units were treated as commercialbusinesses. User fees make it possible to include larger units and condominiums, because they paytheir fair share. W. Foxmyn noted her condominium association pays $135/year for weeklycollection of trash and recycling, and A. Miller said Longmeadow is about the same. J. Laurila saidthe more diverse the population served, the more complicated it becomes to offer appropriateservices (e.g., carts vs. dumpsters, pickup frequencies, etc.). W. Foxmyn suggested opening upservices beyond 1-4 family units would increase participation. S. Salloom said haulers are alreadycompeting for multifamily dwellings and condominiums. Roger Guzowski said different trucks areused for commercial collection services. A. Miller said any contactor would have to provideresidential and commercial services if the municipal buildings and schools were included in thecontract. T. Culhane suggested a curbside contract could start with 1-4 units and larger units couldbe phased in.Future agenda items, planning concluding stepsW. Foxmyn asked the group again, “What additional information do we need to make decisions?”M. Odgers said a [silent] straw vote should be taken at the next meeting to determine whichcollection option should be pursued, then proceed to make decisions about difficult to managewastes and waste reduction. She said Task Force members should be prepared to list their topoptions at the next meeting. She said the majority should rule, and a minority report was apossibility.R. Schmidt stated monetary costs are not the only costs to be considered. The public’s support forkeeping the Locust Street facility open and their concern for the environment are diametrically 5
opposed when the monetary and environmental costs associated with thousands of cars driving thereon a regular basis is taken into account.W. Foxmyn said the Task Force hasn’t discussed curbside collection (pros and cons, environmentalbenefits, impacts etc.), and requested that this be on the agenda at the next meeting.M. Carmien said at the next meeting, the group should be prepared to reach consensus on which ofthe options to recommend, and start addressing ancillary recommendations that will set the bar forthe BPW in terms of waste reduction. Earlier in the meeting, W. Foxmyn had said Robert’s Rulesmight be used for voting decisions because consensus might not be achievable.The meeting was adjourned at 8:30pm.(These meeting minutes were prepared by Karen Bouquillon based on hand written notes takenduring the meeting and reviewed/edited by Co-Chair Carmien. Meeting attendees are asked toreview this summary to make sure it is an accurate reflection of meeting discussions. The minutescan be amended per vote of the committee members.) 6