Weekly curbside recycling, trash pickup to begin this summer in Falmouth

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FALMOUTH — Trash will be picked up weekly, with recycling available at the curb, beginning the week of July 6, thanks to a new contract with Pine Tree Waste.

The town also plans to move the “silver bullet” recycling containers now at the fire station on Bucknam Road and behind the Hannaford supermarket in West Falmouth to the transfer station.

Each of the town’s two trash pickup routes will be split in half, and the trucks will pick up at each area once a week, Tuesday through Friday. Curbside recycling will be picked up at the same time.

The changes will save the town money, officials said.

In 2012, the price the town pays for trash and recycling pickup will drop from $364,500 to $351,000. The savings are the result of Pine Tree Waste’s automated truck, which utilizes a hydraulic arm to pick up trash and recycling bins instead of using a human trash collector.

The company will also switch to trucks with dual bins, one for trash, one for recycling, saving the company the cost of driving each route twice.

However, in implementing weekly curbside recycling, Parks and Public Works Director Jay Reynolds recommended moving the recycling containers on Bucknam Road and in West Falmouth. A container at the high school on Woodville Road would stay put.

“Having them at the transfer station would control illegal dumping,” Reynolds said during Monday night’s Town Council meeting. “Non-Falmouth (resident) recycling would be eliminated by that as well.”

The town’s Recycling Committee did a survey in 2008 and found that 28 percent of silver bullet users were from outside the town. While curbside recycling has increased over the past three years since it was implemented, silver bullet recycling has declined.

However, the majority of recycling still comes from the silver bullets and 83 percent of silver bullet recycling comes from the two locations the town plans to eliminate.

The recycling container behind Hannaford made headlines last year when someone illegally dumped a toxic sludge that sent two town employees to the hospital after they inhaled the fumes.

Four of the six councilors at the meeting Monday supported moving the silver bullets. Councilors Faith Varney and Bonny Rodden opposed the move. Councilor Cathy Breen was absent.

“One big problem I have is that 60 percent of our recycling is coming from silver bullets,” Rodden, who is the liaison to the Recycling Committee, said. “I’m very concerned if we do this abruptly we’re going to lose a lot of recycling.”

Varney said she uses the silver bullets and that older residents she spoke to expressed concern that they would have to haul heavy recycling bins down to the ends of long driveways. She also took issue with the silver bullets only being available when the transfer station is open.

“The transfer station is not open that much,” Varney said “We were there (at the silver bullet) early Friday. The transfer station opens at 10 a.m. We were long gone by then.”

However, other councilors supported removing the containers, citing the approximately 10 hours per week of staff time spent cleaning up items dumped illegally and the expense of hauling recycling for residents of other towns.

“We’re burning up a lot of energy with people transporting recycling to the containers,” Council Chairman Tony Payne also said. “This will reduce our carbon footprint.”

After the other councilors recovered from the shock of Payne’s out-of-character environmental advocacy and ribbed him about it, he added, “and it’s good economics.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.