The New Jersey Municipal Management Association (NJMMA) recently held a “Noon Zoom” where a panel discussed various contract options for towns to deal with the issue of garbage collection including subcontracting, converting from private vendors to a municipal service and "pay and throw" alternatives.
Stephen Williams, Chatham Borough Administrator, began by explaining that Chatham Borough is currently one of eight towns in New Jersey using the “Pay to Throw" program. The program, started in 1992 was initially thought to be a fair way for residents to pay for what they use.
“If you have a large family you may go through more bags and if you are a single resident or senior citizen you may go through less bags in a month,” said Williams.
Solid waste collection is scheduled two days each week for all residential households using Green Bags. A drawback of this program was that bulk pickup is not included which allows residents to put out an unlimited amount of bulk waste. Chatham is now looking at implementing a sticker program to control the amount of bulk items being put out each month. Another downside of the program is that the hauler being used is having a difficult time securing the green bags shipments due to supply chain and staffing issues on the manufacturer's end.
“We have found that in the last year our Pay to Throw program is not without its drawbacks and it may be better to just do away with the program altogether,” explained Williams.
David Segall, Vice President, Public Policy and Municipalities at Recycle Track Systems, Inc (RTS). then went on to introduce his company. He leads RTS’s policy and government relations portfolio and spearheads the company’s mission to bring sustainable texture and waste reduction and recycling solutions to the cities and towns across the country
RTS now serves seven municipalities in New Jersey alone, in addition to Camden County government properties and Rowan University. RTS partners with local, independent haulers and outfits vehicles with proprietary routing technology that streamlines collection routes and keeps in constant communication with individual pickup sites.
RTS creates effective and environmentally-conscious waste stream solutions by equipping trucks with smart city tracking technology.
Matthew Hall, Borough of Washington, then discussed bringing trash collection back in house within municipalities. For many years, the Borough of Washington has contracted the collection of solid waste to third-party private contractors. Within the last 10-15 years there have been drastic changes in solid waste regulation on the state level as well as massive price shocks in the solid waste disposal and recycling commodities markets.
“If we’re going to be spending the same amount of money, we may as well be doing it ourselves and have full control over the process from start to finish,” said Hall.
The Borough modeled its own program on the Borough of Wharton in Morris County, which is comparable in land area and population to Washington. This allowed the borough to have larger DPW staff that is able to do other things needed in the town when they are not collecting and also allowed them to purchase their own garbage trucks and modify them to the needs of the community.
Each household or eligible business is issued two 95 gallon carts by the borough, one for garbage and one for recyclables which are each collected once a week. Vegatative waste is collected once a week seasonally and bulk pickup day occurs during the last garbage day of the month with households limited to one item per pickup.