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Weekly Recycling: Town Considers Pros and Cons [POLLS]

The Board of Selectmen heard from DPW Director David Lane in regard to the cost of upgrading to weekly recycling.

To recycle weekly or to keep the current green and blue every-other-week recycling program? That was the question before the at Tuesday evening's meeting. 

In the four years since Chairman Daniel Bennett has been on the Board of Selectmen, he said he has seen almost every option or permutation cross the desk.

“We have been monitoring [opportunities to increase recycling] but did not feel a 'Pay As You Throw' (PAYT) or single stream recycling program was cost effective,” said Bennett.

Bennett and other selectmen remain certain that in order to warrant a change to the current system, it must be managed within the town’s budget with little or no start-up costs.

In a presentation before the Board of Selectmen, Director David Lane presented a proposal that would provide Danvers with a weekly recycling program at no initial additional cost. The proposal also recommended that recycling be mandatory for all residents. Lane suggested that if approved, the weekly schedule should be offered starting January 2012.

“For no increase in cost for the fiscal years of 2013 and 2014, weekly recycling will significantly add benefit with modest increases through the end of the contract with [JRM],” said Lane.

In findings of a current recycling survey conducted in spring of 2011, Lane showed the board members that 70 percent of Danvers residents participate in recycling and 95 percent of residents are putting out three barrels or less for trash collection.

With such a great success rate, Selectmen Keith Lucy wondered why a weekly collection would make any difference.

 “If people are recycling every day, I’m not sure if changing the collection to every week will change behavior,” said Lucy.

Lucy asked Lane if there were other towns gaining results in the North Shore by upping the ante on recycling. Lane pointed to two communities including Reading and Ipswich, where tipping fee cost savings were apparent.

“For 2011, Reading decreased costs by $78,000 and Ipswich by decreased disposal costs by $41,000,” reported Lane.

On hand to shore up support for the weekly program was Gail Bernard, P.R. coordinator. Bernard pointed to space issues as major reason why people do not recycle more and by having the weekly recycling pick-up, it would encourage increased recycling.

Currently, the town contracts with JRM and is in the third year of a five-year contract for weekly recycling collection. If approved, a second collection truck would be added to each trash pick-up day but the cost to deliver the service will go up in 2015 by two and a half percent. To accomplish this, DPW is recommending the town extend collection contracts with JRM for an additional five years to spread out the additional cost associated with the start-up of the weekly program.

The numbers Lane presented, however, had selectmen scratching their heads and sharpening their pencils.

Selectman Gardner Trask pointed out that the two calculated options were drawing incorrect projections as it seemed the numbers were compounded to reflect inaccurate savings or rather what looked like cumulative large increases over a period of time.

Chairman Bennett suggested perhaps getting recycling up to 85 percent before considering a mandatory provision.“We need to think about how to establish it,” said Bennett.

The board asked Lane to come back with corrected figures for consideration at the next meeting on October 18 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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