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New Trash Pick-up System May Soon Debut

The Board of Health is studying a proposal from Republic Services – the firm contracted by the town for curbside trash and recyclables pick-up – to replace the current system with an automated one in which each home would be given a 64-gallon container and a 96-gallon container to use. The containers would be picked up and emptied by a mechanism on the truck, eliminating the need for the truck driver to step out to pick up and empty individual cans and bins.

Describing the change as "a move from the conventional program to a fully automated disposal program," Bruce Stanas, senior municipal services manager for Republic Services, explained that move is driven by several factors. First, he said the change would eliminate windblown trash cans and recyclable bins. Second, Stanas said that keeping the drivers in trucks reduced their potential to be injured. Third, the town could expect to see a 23 percent to 25 percent reduction in the amount of trash it has to pay to dispose of, and an increased in its rate of recycling, he said.

That last factor is important because the state is on its way toward mandating that towns recycle a certain portion of their trash, Stanas said. "That's where the state is heading," he commented.

Republic Services would pay for the new disposal containers, which – at an estimated $50 each and 9,000 housing units in town – would cost the company an estimated $900,000, Stanas said. But, in return, the company needs to ensure that it will have the contract to pick up Milford's trash for at least another few years, he said. That would mean having the Board of Health exercise an option to extend the current contract for two more years, from 2015 through 2017, Stanas said.

As an incentive to get its contract extended, Republic Services would guarantee no cost increase in 2015 and pay $2,500 annually for the town to run a "sharps" drop off program for items like "finger stick" needles for diabetes tests or disposal syringes for home medical injections, he continued. The state's Department of Public Health has banned the average person from throwing out "sharps" since a year ago.

Chairman Leonard Izzo and board member Kenneth Evans were against the town creating such a program. "Once we start a program like this, we own it" even if the funding goes away, Evans said. Local drugstores have refused to hosts such a program, so why should the town do it, Izzo questioned. Stanas said that the $2,500 could then be used to fund any program sponsored by the board. Evans suggested using the money to advertise Republic's sale of home disposal kits for "sharps."

In terms of implementing the program, Stanas said it usually takes between three and five months of educating people before the actual change in pick-up begins. The new system could start by next spring, he added. He also recommended that the board finalize its decision on whether to eliminate curbside trash pick-up for the 1,152 apartments in town that are in multi-family housing having more than three units in each building before the new program begins. Eliminating the multi-family apartments would save Republic Services from buying about 2,300 bins at an estimated cost of $115,200. [Editor's Note: See separate story in this issue.]

Public Health Officer Paul Mazzuchelli advocated for the new pick-up system, saying that neither the town nor its residents will have to pay for the new containers and the estimated reduction in trash tonnage will result in a savings for the town. "That's all going to add up," he said.

Izzo and board member Gerald Hennessy voted to extend Republic Services' contract by two more years, with Evans abstaining. He cited the need for further study. The board members also took no action on Stanas' recommendation for a changing the current curbside pick-up, saying they needed more time to review it.


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