Town officials recently went out to bid for curbside collection of trash and recycling. They are considering different sized trash carts for automated collection beginning in 2018. One option being explored is a 35 gallon trash cart which provides a basic level of service for all households, with fee-based options for overflow trash.
To incentivize trash reduction, Massachusetts offers SMART grants to cities and towns to help them implement sustainable programs. SMART programs (Save Money and Reduce Trash) are considered a best practice for trash reduction by the US EPA and MassDEP because attaching a direct cost to the amount of trash we throw away has proven to be the most effective tool to reduce waste. Coupled with local reuse and recycling options, this is a win-win.
On November 15th, the Baker Administration awarded $4.1 million in grants to municipalities across Massachusetts to help maximize their recycling, composting and waste reduction programs. “Important environmental protection work happens every day in communities across the Commonwealth” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Sustainable Materials Recovery Program funds allow the state to work with cities and towns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, save money, and support jobs.” SMART programs are recognized and rewarded as the most effective tool for waste reduction.
State grants for SMART programs are available to municipalities that provide collection of trash using carts that are no greater than 35 gallons (with fee-based overflow trash). This grant offers $30 per household served by the town program. If officials decide to go with a 35 gallon trash cart, Sharon will be eligible for an award valued at $157K to support program implementation. Alternately, employing a larger trash cart would eliminate this grant opportunity altogether. And this key incentive to reduce trash would be lost, resulting in more waste and higher trash disposal costs.
At this critical juncture, Sharon has the opportunity to adopt best practices in waste reduction, earn grant dollars, and save ratepayers money on their trash bills. For our environment, our community, and our wallets, let’s make the responsible decision and support a 35 gal SMART cart program.
Sharon resident and Municipal Assistance Coordinator for MassDEP