The Town Council approved the purchase of trash and recycling barrels for each Braintree household Tuesday night, clearing the way for a transition to automated waste pickup.
The switch, planned for October, has prompted many residents and some councilors to express anxiety about both the $755,000 cost of the barrels and the program’s capacity limitations.
But a detailed presentation Tuesday by Mayor Joseph Sullivan and his staff about the town’s new contract with Sunrise Scavenger and the automation program appeared to assuage many of the concerns. Councilors voted 8-0 with Ronald DeNapoli absent to approve the bonding, which will be supplemented by a $130,000 state grant and $20,000 from Sunrise.
“I wasn’t a proponent 10 days ago, because the whole story wasn’t told to us,” Committee on Ways & Means Chair Paul “Dan” Clifford. “The presentation we saw tonight hit the mark.”
Council President Charles Kokoros added that he felt "a lot more comfortable" after talking the initiative over with the mayor and a number of his constituents, some of whom attended the meeting Tuesday.
The contract with Sunrise replaces a deal with Capitol Waste that expired June 30. If Braintree had stayed with Capitol at the same rate, it would have spent $8 million over five years, according to data provided by the mayor’s office. With Sunrise, Braintree will spend $6.6 million over the same time period.
Those savings – approximately $1.4 million over five years – will be reduced by the cost of the barrels, but then also increased over time with reduced tipping fees. Along with environmental benefits, recycling more also means waste savings, Sullivan said.
Recyclables cost $5 per ton to dispose, versus the $25 per ton that Braintree pays to get rid of trash (a relative discount because the town hosts the transfer station). Right now Braintree recycles at a rate of 25 to 30 percent. The automation program could boost that by 10 to 15 percent quickly, according to waste coordinator Jeffrey Kunz.
Sullivan committed to using a portion of the savings to reduce the trash fee for fiscal year 2015, along with helping pay for other vital services such as education and public safety. The fee is currently $160 for a household and $105 for seniors.
“I’m comfortable saying that we can reduce the trash fee by $10 next year,” Chief of Staff and Operations Peter Morin said.
About two dozen residents turned out to Town Hall Tuesday night and several asked questions about the program. The mayor said he will make the PowerPoint presentation available on the town’s website.
Below is a summarization of the logistics involved with changing to automation this fall.
- Households that have paid the trash fee will receive one 64-gallon blue-topped barrel for trash and one 64-fallon green-topped barrel for recycling
- The barrels will be delivered to households in September and placed in a location that is convenient for automated pickup. More information will also be provided at that time
- Carts are under 10-year warranties and will be replaced or repaired as necessary by the town or Sunrise Scavenger
- Molded into the top of the barrels will be information on customer service and also on what is recycling eligible
- There will be no weight limit on the barrels
- After a “reasonable” attempt to use the two barrels, residents who can show they need more capacity may receive a free additional 35-gallon barrel
- If a household needs further capacity and can demonstrate they have tried to use the two provided barrels, they may purchase another 64-gallon barrel for $100 (tentative number)
- Mayor Sullivan said there will be at least one, possibly two, public meetings on the automation program in September
- Households can set out for pickup two bulky items per week (i.e. bikes, furniture, mattresses)
- And also two household appliances (i.e. dishwasher, refrigerator) per month
- Six extra bags of trash per house can be picked up on Christmas week and the week after
- Christmas tree pickup will occur during the first two weeks of January and yard waste curbside pickup seven weeks a year
- The town may fine Sunrise Scavenger for not delivering quality service. The fine is determined wholly by the town and not subject to arbitration. Sunrise will also maintain a customer service line