BET DEMOCRATS: Pay As You Throw Is a Rushed Attempt to Address Budget Gaps

Letter to the Editor on  from the BET Democrats, Leslie Moriarty, Laura Erickson, Miriam Kreuzer, Beth Krumeich, Jeff Ramer and David Weisbrod

We strongly favor keeping the “Green” in Greenwich and smart environmental programs
that enhance our sustainability efforts.

We cannot, however, support the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) program – as it is being pushed through – because it imposes a significant new cost on our residents and businesses without adequate public input, metrics to evaluate the stated environmental benefits, and basic details about its implementation plan.

The plan is a rushed attempt designed mainly to address budgetary gaps, rather than a thoughtful environmental approach that has community buy-in and support.

• First Selectman Camillo and his staff does not have basic data on current volumes on commercial vs. residential trash and recycling, cannot answer questions about how the
program will impact commercial entities or non-profits.

These communities behave very differently and require separate waste reduction solutions. There are no developed metrics to identify success. Without understanding our baseline and the level (and type) of reduction desired, we would not be able to evaluate the program’s success.

• The Town’s consultant and chief advocate for PAYT, WasteZero, would also be the sole vendor, earning $658,000 in the first year. This raises concerns of a conflict of interest.

• The WasteZero assessment of a 44% reduction in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) appears highly optimistic, is based on broad data samples rather than Greenwich specific data.

Greenwich has a recycling rate of about 40%, among the highest rates in Connecticut. Realistically how much additional reduction in MSW can be achieved when we start from such a high base? Food scraps and other organic waste are said to represent 25% of MSW, but an approach to invest in a townwide food scraps waste diversion plan is lacking. Such an option could play a significant role in redirecting waste as would a multiple stream recycling program which would generate higher quality recyclables which are easier to market.

• Virtually every Connecticut municipality, aside from Greenwich charges trash haulers a tipping fee to cover waste removal cost. Adopting such fee structure would provide an alternative revenue source to the Town, allow Greenwich time to establish genuine waste- reduction and public outreach strategies, and to determine baseline metrics and targets, that will inspire greater citizen confidence and result in a more successful program.

Greenwich residents deserve to know that all revenue will be used to address ongoing environmental needs and not just serve as an alternative to the property tax.

BET Democrats:
Leslie Moriarty
Laura Erickson
Miriam Kreuzer
Beth Krumeich
Jeff Ramer
David Weisbrod