Trash collection would move to five days a week and yard waste would be collected on the same day as trash under the proposed new trash/recycling collection contract being offered to the town. Weekly recycling, however, is not part of the deal.
The five year deal with Republic Services, the same company that currently picks up trash and recycling, would cost $12.43 million over that time. The contract could have been higher, said Dan Higgins, municipal services manager for Republic.
“We identified ways to be more efficient and overcame projected const increases for the town,” said Higgins, who said there will be increases in wages, increased fuel costs and higher rates for disposing trash at the incinerator facility.
Right now, the town has residential trash pick up four days a week and Republic uses four trucks. The new contract would have pick up five days a week, using three trucks, so it would reduce the number of crews by one.
Higgins said going to five days will also improve service.
“We gain an extra day, and if anyone has a missed pickup we will be back in town on Friday,” Higgins said.
About 20 percent of residents would see their trash pickup day change. There will be plenty of effort to educate people, including mailings, putting messages on the electric signs around town and using the reverse 911 system. There will also be a grace period where pickups will be made if people put out trash on the wrong day.
Since the town has gone to recycling toters with pick up only every other week, some residents and Councilors have asked for weekly recycling pickup. Councilor Tony Palomba said he does not always put out the trash toter, but he sometimes runs out of room in his recycling.
The town will sell people an extra recycling bin for $180, which is $36 a year for the five year contract or 70 cents a week, said Town Manager Michael Driscoll. There have been 105 second recycling toters purchased in town.
The proposal would continue the every other week recycling pickup. Higgins said that Watertown already outperforms other communities that have weekly recycling pickup. Watertown diverts about 28.4 percent of trash to recycling, and the only one with weekly service that has higher diversion is Billerica. Higgins said, however, that that includes yard waste and Billerica has much more yard waste than Watertown, so in recycling Watertown is still higher.
Councilor Aaron Dushku said he also has problems with overflowing recycling, and he wanted to know if the Town could subsidize the second trash toters. He added that the cost of a ton of recycling is less than sending the ton to the incinerator.
“(By subsidizing toters) we are paying people to save money,” Dushku said. “It makes good sense.”
Under the new contract, yard waste pickup would be on the same day as trash. Higgins said he believes it will be easier for residents to remember to put out their yard waste because it is the same day, and there will 17 weeks of yard waste pickup, one more than under the current contract.
Councilor Angeline Kounelis, who represents the East End, said she already has trouble putting out trash and recycling with all the two families and cars parked on the street. She worries what happens if yard waste is added to the equation.
“It is compounding the situation with yard waste at the same time,” Kounelis said. “Currently yard waste is not the same week as recycling. Will that be the case?”
The Republic representatives said they would look into that.
The Town Council will make its final decision on the trash/recycling contract at its next meeting on June 27.