facts or fiction about 35-gallon trash cart

FICTION 1: A 35 gal SMART trash cart is more expensive than a larger trash cart.

FACT 1: By including all costs in the fee, the 35 gal SMART cart offers the most substantial cost reduction vs. status quo. With a 35 gal SMART cart, we can increase recycling to weekly pick-up and still lower our costs (based on initial proposals from 3 of 4 vendors).

FICTION 2: DEP’s SMART program would be an added burden/hardship on disabled and low-income residents.

FACT 2: First, the current system burdens seniors, small households, and low trash generators by charging all households for the high trash generation of only a small subset of households. Secondly, the town offers FREE trash pick-up for income-eligible seniors over 60 and for those with a known disability (with physician’s note) if under 60. Offered through the Council on Aging and Board of Health:

FICTION 3: Sharon has more residents per household than other SMART cities and towns.

FACT 3: The 2010 US Census indicates that average household size in Sharon is 2.82, in Norwell it is 2.89, in Wrentham 2.81. Norwell and Wrentham use 35 gal SMART carts and on average their households generate 1,400 lbs of trash per year.  That is 30% less than Sharon households, who generate 1,826 lbs on average in a year.

FICTION 4: It doesn’t matter what other communities are doing!

FACT 4: It should! For example, feedback from Michael T Lavin, Jr, Wrentham Supt. of Public Works tells us that “Year one of the new contract enabled the Town to cut the budget significantly over the previous year’s expenditures…trash tonnage is down…recycling tonnage has increased.” Watching our waste reduces our contribution to climate change and pollution.  Reducing waste conserves natural resources, saves energy and reduces pollution to air and water.  For future generations, it is our responsibility to lighten these burdens.

FICTION 5: The 35 gal cart will reduce our trash capacity too much!

FACT 5: Sharon residents currently generate 35 lbs of trash per week on average. For the vast majority of households, a 35 gal SMART cart will easily meet the needs of most residents. In Norwell and Wrentham, the average household disposes of 27 lbs of trash per week with the 35 gal SMART cart.  Overflow options will be available for occasional excess trash. Also, this program incentivizes waste reduction.

FICTION 6: This 35 gal SMART cart is not a fair option because it will not work for every household.

FACT 6: Town officials must set policies and programs designed to meet the needs of the majority, with options and/or accommodations for those with differing needs. MassDEP data from other SMART communities indicate that the majority of households using 35 gal SMART carts do not need overflow bags or barrels, except on occasion.

In the end, trash should be treated like any other utility: we each pay for what we use. Sharon took this approach with its water program and now we are a water conservation leader. The SMART cart option allows for occasional overflow (with bags) or weekly overflow (with a 2nd 35 gal cart that can be returned for cost savings as household needs change).