Town board recycles plan for once-a-week garbage pickup
. . . with 64 reader comments since Friday
October 8, 2010
by Christine Yeres
UPDATE: At 11:45 a.m. on Friday, October 8, Supervisor Barbara Gerrard confirmed that the town board has approved the one-day-a-week pickup, which will begin on April 1, 2011.
One year ago, the New Castle Town Board proposed reducing the number of residential garbage pickups from twice a week to once a week, with recyclables picked up on the same day by a truck with two separate compartments, one for paper, the other for glass-metal-plastics. Because both trucks will come on the same day, residents will only need to put out all their materials once each week. Under this plan the town would save $200,000 per year in carting fees, which would translate to approximately $36 in savings for each household.
As the board saw it, once a week pickup would not only save money, but it would raise residents’ awareness of what they tossed into the garbage. Once residents realized they must keep their garbage for a week between pickups, they would recycle more, reasoned town board members.
Although a survey at the time by NewCastleNOW.org showed that, of 535 respondents, exactly half of them were in favor of the proposal and half opposed, emails to town board members fell more to the negative side. Town Supervisor Barbara Gerrard said she received about 20 emails on the matter, most objecting to the proposal. The town board backed off the plan, vowing to educate residents about its benefits and try again the next year.
The board considers, then rejects a plan that would cut recycle runs
Two weeks ago the town board flipped last year’s plan and proposed retaining the two garbage pickups and reduce recycling pickups to once per week, alternating between paper one week and glass-metal-plastics the next.
This plan would save $150,000 in the first year and $98,000 for the next five years, but it depended upon the town’s purchase of a $260,000 “split packer” (a garbage truck with two separate compartment) for the carting company to operate. The cost of the truck would take several years to amortize.
Supervisor Gerrard brought the new plan to the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) for advice. “I was trying to look for some middle of the road solution,” explained Gerrard. But the members of the SAB told her they were strongly opposed to the reduction of the recycling pickups on the grounds that it would undermine their efforts to promote recycling. They feared the alternating schedule would confuse residents and result in recyclables being tossed into the garbage.
Board members get feedback on Community Day
The board presented the new proposal to the community at their booth on Community Day, September 25. “We heard from residents who looked at the two-garbage / one-recycle pickup plan, and said to us ‘Wait, what happened to the once-a-week garbage pick up? We thought that’s what was going to happen!” Gerrard, who preferred the original plan by far, not least for the greater savings it would bring New Castle, brought the residents’ input and SAB’s opinions back to her board.
At Tuesday night’s work session, October 5, the board officially returned to its original proposal: One garbage pickup per week, recyclables picked up on the same day. “Towns like Armonk, Pleasantville and Croton only pick up garbage once a week. Whatever they’re doing right, we can do right, too,” said Gerrard. Plus, she noted when asked about the plan later in the week, although it would save residents only $36 per household per year on their $520 yearly carting fees, the $200,000 per year for the 5,600 households in New Castle amounted to a $1 million savings over five years.
How does a once-a-week garbage pickup plan work to encourage people to recycle more? “When you throw out a cereal box, for example,” Gerrard explained, “and you know you have limited space in your garbage, you’ll take out the plastic liner and put the cereal box with the newspapers instead of with the garbage.”
“A lot of people don’t really care about recycling,” noted board member Michael Wolfensohn.
“But when they realize there’s only one pickup a week they may care,” responded board member Robin Stout.
“I’m about cost-saving,” replied Wolfensohn, “but I’d like to see us take baby steps on this.”
“This once-a-week garbage pickup doesn’t include the purchase of a truck,” Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella pointed out, “and the yearly savings are $200,000 each year, rather than the plan for two garbage picks ups which would have saved $150,000 for the first year and only $98,000 yearly for the next five years.”
“But one of the residents’ objections was that the savings per household was only $36,” Wolfensohn reminded the other board members.
“But it’s also a matter of saving 9500 gallons of diesel fuel and 109 tons of CO2 emissions with one truck run fewer,” Faiella argued. He noted also that typically 80% of residential garbage is collected in the first pickup of the week; the second pickup is ordinarily much lighter.
If the board approves the plan for once-a-week garbage pickup and recyclables picked up the same day, it would begin in April 1, 2011, giving residents time, said Gerrard, to accustom themselves to the new schedule, or even practice for it, without the added pressure of winter weather conditions to deal with. Because of the April start, the savings for the first year of operation would be $150,000 and $200,000 for every full year thereafter.
UPDATE: In answer to a reader comment below, NCNOW responded on Friday, October 8, in the comment box: “Editor’s Note: The discussion of once-a-week garbage pickup occurred as part of a budget talk within a town board work session. The board gave no indication during the work session discussion that members had decided to implement the once-a-week pick up. There was no vote. NCNOW published the original story at 6:00 a.m. Friday, October 8. Supervisor Barbara Gerrard confirmed on Friday morning at 11:45 that the board had in fact approved the change (she did not elaborate on how the board had approved it) and that the new schedule will begin on April 1, 2010. But when NCNOW asked town board member Michael Wolfensohn whether the board had approved implementation of the once-a-week pickup, he said, “I believe that’s something that we’re going to discuss during the budget approval process and we don’t have an outcome on it yet.”