15 Sep 2014
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Maplewood Trash Talk Brings Out a Crowd

The informational meeting to discuss a proposed pay-as-you-throw program drew a good audience.

On Monday night, Maplewood residents packed into Town Hall with one thing in mind: trash talk.

The Town meeting was held to give residents an opportunity to hear information about and to discuss issues and concerns regarding a town proposal for a single trash collection contract, and a "Pay As You Throw" disposal system. Maplewoodians, whom Green Team members say pay more for garbage hauling than comparable nearby towns, currently have the ability to contract with one of two haulers — Waste Management or Waste Industries. 

The proposal's primary goals are to reduce the amount of refuse going from Maplewood to the incinerator, and lower the overall cost of garbage collection and disposal, as well as improve equity by letting households with low disposal rates reduce their costs more than those with high rates.

Fred Profeta — Deputy Mayor for the Environment — introduced the meeting and also addressed questions during the question and answer session, that was the primary purpose for the meeting taking place. Steve Weber of the Green Team and Bob McCoy of both the Green Team and Maplewood Environmental Advisory committee, each gave a run down of the proposal. The proposal was essentially the with these changes:

  • the removal of the recycling improvement fund and costs for municipal collection from the household cost estimate,
  • adjustments to account for the cost of bags across scenarios, and 
  • the consideration of stickers as an alternative to marked bags.   

You can see the full updated proposal — cost estimates and all — in the attached document.

Vice Mayor, Kathleen Leventhal, moderated a very animated question and answer session.

Questions and concerns were wide ranging. One resident wondered if the proposal would bring an increase in illegal dumping. A couple of residents were skeptical about privacy and the see-through nature of the new garbage bag. Residents living in condos wondered how they would be affected by this proposal, as opposed to a homeowner. 

(Regarding condos and apartments, most seem to have private commercial hauling contracts — but the speakers last night said that further conversations are needed with such buildings' owners and management.)

Residents' concerns differed but most were in agreement about reducing costs. Proponents claim that the plan, which would go into effect by 2012 if awarded a bid, would reduce costs for residents by about a third.

Vice Mayor, Kathleen Leventhal, commented regarding the meeting: "The questions really helped us zero in on what people are concerned about, everything from pricing, to how the system would work, how recycling might be effective, so it gave us a lot of good strong information."

Mayor Fred Profeta, seemed pleased with the meeting, stating, "This was a very dynamic, very informative meeting. We haven't seen this many town meetings this well attended, and this much willingness to speak up and let us know what's good, what's bad, what's medium about this proposal."

The next step, said Profeta, is to review the surveys that have been returned. There is no timetable yet for putting out a request for proposals, and the Town may first talk with more haulers to nail down the details.

The proposal managed to garner the attention of CBS New York News, which ran a segment on Maplewood and Chatham, NJ, where pay-as-you-throw is already in effect. One of the speakers at tonight's meeting, Bob McCoy, is featured in the segment, which you can find here.

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