Town’s proposed pay-as-you-throw plan calls for 83-cent trash bags

Town’s proposed pay-as-you-throw plan calls for 83-cent trash bags

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A proposed plan to charge town residents by the amount of trash they throw away calls for an 83-cent fee for large trash bags. Smaller bags would be 55 cents, and bags for senior citizens would be 36 cents.

Though the new charges wouldn’t be popular at first, acknowledged town officials and representatives from Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. last week, residents would eventually realize that this is the best way to reduce waste tonnage and treat everyone fairly.

Mark Dancy, (pictured above right), president of WasteZero, the company looking to run the proposed program, said he was representing RIRRC as he urged Town Council members to adopt a program that would also help extend the life of the Central Landfill in Johnston.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said last Tuesday’s session with Dancy and the council was “informational only,” and acknowledged that a move to a pay-as-you-throw program is “not the most popular decision.”

That said, Lombardi emphasized, “we think this is the answer” to the town’s continued struggles to boost a 25-percent recycling rate.

Trash bags under the plan would be purchased through local retailers.

According to Dancy, new trash “tipping fees” being instituted at the state level will cost North Providence taxpayers an extra $80,000 next year and $150,000 the year after that. The landfill currently only has about 25 years of life left under current projections, said Dancy, and the higher fees were implemented as a way to motivate improvement in municipal recycling. “No one wants a landfill built in their city or town,” he said, and there are few options available for trash disposal once the landfill reaches capacity.

Residents pay for trash disposal no matter what, said Dancy, but right now they pay as taxpayers with a blanket check from the town.

“When it happens that way, the residents are not accountable for how much trash they generate,” he said. “Right now, they’re paying it, they just don’t see it.”

The program being offered by RIRRC to North Providence would allow the town to simply use the money generated from the sale of the bags to cover the cost of tipping fees and eliminate that line item from the budget, said Dancy. Other communities running programs independently to try to raise revenue are in many cases charging $1.50 or $2 per bag, he said.

The savings North Providence achieves could be used for any number of things, from cutting taxes to investing in schools, said Dancy.

“I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘My priority is sending more money to the landfill,’ ” he said.

Other communities with pay-as-you-throw programs are reducing their waste totals by an average of 44 percent, said Dancy. The new program is simply a change in the “dynamic and psychology” of how trash disposal is paid for, he said.

Councilor Manny Giusti asked about the chances of the costs for bags rising to “something crazy” like $5 a bag 20 years down the road. Dancy responded that any increases would only be in line with increases to state tipping fees. Many of the communities that are trying to “capture more than disposal costs” are periodically deciding to raise prices on bags by 25 cents, he said.

The average number of large bags used in pay-as-you-throw communities in Rhode Island is about 1.1 per week, said Dancy. About three of the 33-gallon large bags would fit in a 90-gallon trash bin, he said.

Councilor Raymond DeStefanis asked how town officials will know whether RIRRC is making revenue off the town beyond the cost of the tipping fees.

Dancy said the contract would only be set for two years and officials have a pretty good idea of what the results would be based on averages from other communities.

About 150 communities in Massachusetts now have pay-as-you-throw programs, compared with just five in Rhode Island, said Dancy.

Lombardi told council members that town officials continue to work with residents who are not properly putting recycling materials in the right bin, but problems persist.

Requiring residents to pay as they throw away trash is very intuitive for people, said Dancy, as they pay for what they use. The “well-established” system is like a utility, he said, meaning just like with water or electricity, people pay for what they use.

Though the program isn’t usually met with excitement, said Dancy, residents generally adjust within a few months.

Comments

Dancy will paint a rosy picture. His company is going to profit, maybe the recycling commish needs to get out of his car and start knocking on some doors to hand out fines

Being the 3rd highest taxed community does this system bring any tax relief? We already pay for removal now so how much should we expect to save on our bill? By what's said, if I throw 1 bag a week your telling me it will cost me only 83cents? Just for purchasing 1 bag? No other costs associated, fees ect? Just how much is it costing me now individually to have trash picked up? Maybe our tax bills should be broken down to show us. 80k in tipping fees this year, 150k next year, what will it be in 5 years? Does it cap? How much do other municipalities pay? Cost comparison? I also feel this should be something the tax payers should vote on. Not just Charlie and town council shoving it down our throats. I have lived here for 21 years. Love this town. But lately I feel that it is time to start looking elsewhere. I am just TAXED out!

We have a $1.5 million line item in our budget for trash collection. If anything goes to pay as you go then I want assurance that the $1.5 million is returned to the taxpayers before any agreements are made by the Mayor.
NP is not the only one dumping in Johnston and probably the smallest community too, so forget the we can save the dump.
What are we paying our administration and town for if not to make sure trash is collected right or dun those that are NOT vs. penalize all of us. You are NOT doing your job we are paying you for.
Comparing what MA does right vs. Tax Island is obviously going to show big differences to the negative for us, trash control is not on the top.

What exactly are town officials doing "to work with residents who are not properly putting recycling materials in the right bin?." Are there fines being assessed? Who does Waste Zero have in their back pocket? Fine the residents who are not recycling properly, leave those who do recycle alone and move on.

Well Mr.Mayor, now let's use our common sense as to why the town isn't meeting it's 25% recycle goal. Look at all these apartments your allowing to be developed here! As a person who has lived in one in the past in this town, I'll tell you right now no one recycles, they just toss it in the dump. Which I know has nothing to do with the trash pickup. But maybe you should come up with a plan with some of these apartment owners and renters to help contribute to the recycling issue. There are a lot of apartments in this town, I think it would help.

All comments above make important points, except garnold, who doesn't understand that these 'use fees' do not change the cost of trash collection.

Bottom line ;

NP town council is saying; hey lets use NP tax payer money to bring in Waste Zero which will make life easy for us.
Of course Waste Zero doesn't talk about how many of those that don't recycle now will simply throw their trash in the town's parks once these use fees are kicked in.

The NP town council is in effect saying; hey let's have the tax payers that throw out their trash correctly subsidize the apathetic and ignorant that don't.

Why not start fining those that don't throw their trash out or do what Providence does; if trash isn't thrown out correctly, it is not picked up
. Much better to fine those that do it wrong, that way the burden of apathy and ignorance falls on the apathetic and ignorant. Doesn't that make sense even if it is not the easiest approach for town officials ? Time for NP tax payers to get some respect here, especially those that throw their trash out correctly.

my councilwoman last week who always responds,,,,so far crickets.