LETTER: Pay As You Throw would reduce cost, by reducing waste and giving residents control over how much they pay

Letter to the editor from Louisa Stone,

As the cost of Waste Disposal rises, the First Selectman has taken Waste Disposal out of the 2020-2021 Town Budget and replaced it with Pay as You Throw (PAYT). In his March 13 memo to the RTM, Fred Camillo strongly supports PAYT, but shows Tipping Fees as an alternative. This Monday, the RTM may vote on an ordinance to allow Tipping Fees. What is the difference?

TIPPING means the waste hauler pays the Town according to the weight of what goes to the dump. The waste hauler then passes the cost on to you.

PAYT means you pay the Town by the bag. The more you waste, the more you pay.

Cost is one consideration, but not the only one. Fairness, Environmental Impact, Ease of Implementation, and Long Term Consequences should be considered.

COST – The cost of waste disposal is rising. The BET wants to take this out of the Town Budget. The First Selectman estimates that Tipping would bring in $3,529,091. PAYT would bring in $3,471,447. The difference, $57,644, 1.6%, is easily within the margin of error. Further, tipping costs will increase significantly when CT’s last remaining ash landfill reaches capacity and our incinerator closes for repairs. The best way to minimize these costs is by producing less trash.

FAIRNESS – With Tipping, the waste hauler decides what you pay. With PAYT, you decide.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT – Waste hauling uses fuel. Waste disposal, by burning or landfill, pollutes the air and contaminates the soil. Tipping is not expected to change the amount of waste. More than 500 New England communities using PAYT have reduced their waste between 40% and 60%, without exception.  

EASE OF IMPLEMENTATION – Tom Conelias of District 3, who owns a hauling company, says traffic at Holly Hill would increase as trucks wait to be weighed, and his monthly costs would be about $15,000 per month. If tipping fees are passed in June, refuse haulers would have only 15 days to notify customers and businesses of rate increases, which would likely be $15 per month for residents and much more for restaurants and other businesses.

With PAYT, you would buy 13-gallon bags for $1.25 or 30-gallon bags for $2.00.

The Town would get $1.04 or $1.69 per bag, with the rest going to operate the program.

Once you fill the bag, you or your hauler would take waste to the Holly Hill Transfer Station just as you do now. The Town’s income would pay for waste to be transferred offsite. Haulers could not dump out-of-town trash at Holly Hill because all trash would have to be in official bags.

LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES – As Connecticut’s landfill and waste-to-energy facilities reach capacity, we must ship waste out of state, at increasing costs. The State’s goal is to reduce Municipal Solid Waste by 60% by 2024. Greenwich recycles 28% of its waste. This has remained largely unchanged since 2012. We may start composting, but PAYT has even greater potential to help meet this goal.

ONE THING IS FOR SURE We’ll pay for waste disposal one way or the other. Waste Disposal will no longer be at taxpayers’ expense. The “hole” in the budget must be filled, either by PAYT or Tipping Fees. PAYT will reduce the cost by reducing waste and giving residents control over how much they pay.

THIS DECISION NEEDS MORE CAREFUL STUDY. Please ask your representatives to postpone the vote on the Tipping Fee ordinance to May. With PAYT and Tipping Fees on the May call, they can vote for the better choice: PAYT or TIPPING FEE.

Louisa H. Stone, District 10