Watertown residents will see some changes to their trash, recycling and yard waste pick up starting in early December, with most people seeing small changes but some will have a whole new day of the week to put out their trash and recycling.
The changes will begin the week of Dec. 11, and come as a result of the Town starting a new trash and recycling contract. The biggest chance with the new system will be five trash pick up days each week instead of four. The Department of Public Works and the trash/recycling pick up contractor Republic Services unveiled the new system for the Town Council this week.
With five collection days, some residents will be moved to a new day.
“Really only 1/5 of the town will change,” said DPW Superintendent Gerry Mee. “Mostly east of (Watertown) Square.”
He added that residents will receive the same services.
“The products haven’t changed that we will pick up, just the day,” Mee said.
There will be two-week grace period when people who forget about the new schedule will still have their trash and recycling collected, said Dennis Sheehan, the DPW’s Director of Administration and Finance.
As in the old system, when there is a holiday or a snow day trash collection will be pushed back a day. This means there will be pick ups on Saturdays in some parts of down during those weeks.
The DPW and Republic want to give people ample warning about the change. Residents will receive the first of four mailings in coming days.
The first and third mailing will include a map and the pickup calendar for the next several weeks, beginning Dec. 11. These mailings will be individualized so residents will be told which day their trash will be picked up and what recycling week they will be on, Sheehan said.
Instead of the Green and Red recycling weeks, the weeks will be designated A or B. Most people who are now Green will be A and most who are Red will be B.
The second mailing will be a folded pamphlet and will include an A or B sticker for residents to put on their recycling bins, Sheehan said. It will also have a bigger map and calendar.
Recycling will still be every other week, and people will use the same trash and recycling toters. Those who want a second recycling toter can purchase one for $90. In the previous contract the extra toter cost $180.
The fourth mailing, which should be out before the end of the year, will be the trash and recycling collection calendar for 2018.
People will also be able to look up what trash day and recycling week they are on by using a new website, www.RepublicServices.com/watertown-ma, and entering their address. The website is due to go live on Friday, Dec. 1.
The DPW is trying to get word out before the holidays, Sheehan said, but they did not want to make the change until after the final yard waste collection of the year, on Dec. 1.
Republic and Town officials have been hammering out the details of the new system, and how to roll it out, since the Town Council approved the contract in late June.
“There have been a lot, a lot of meetings,” Mee said. “A lot of efforts on both of our parts.”
Most towns do not get the same level of effort to spread the word about the changes to their trash program, said Dan Higgins, municipal services manager for Republic. When Marlborough changed all of its routes, the city only got one mailing, he said.
Mee said this is the first time that Republic has created a website for a community where people can look up information based on their address.
Another change impacting all Watertown residents will be yard waste being collected on the same day as trash pick up. As in the current system, yard waste will only be on select weeks, Higgins said.
When the contact was being discussed over the summer, East End Councilor Angeline Kounelis said that she did not think it would work in many parts of the East End if yard waste had to be put out the same day as the recycling because there are many two family homes and many homes are close together.
While some areas will have yard waste and recycling collection on the same week, Higgins said Republic will arrange it so that some areas, including the East End, will not have them on the same day.
The Town will be saving money on the new five-year contract. The total Waste Disposal appropriation for Fiscal Year 2018 will be $3.01 million, which is $223,000 less than fiscal 2012.
“It was a major cost savings for Republic, who passed it on to us,” Mee said.
Even though Republic will be in town an extra day, the service will be more efficient, Mee said. There will be one fewer truck in town each day, and the routes have been redrawn so that trucks make almost all right turns. Mee said that is good for safety and will make pickups go quicker.
DPW officials also anticipate better service. If someone’s trash is not collected, trucks will be in town five days a week to correct the problem.