Public Comment – Update On Zero Waste Amherst’s Proposal To Reform Town’s Waste Hauler System

Curbside toters in Berkeley, CA for trash, compost and recycling. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain

The following comment was submitted in writing to the Amherst Board of Health for their meeting on March 10, 2022

I’m Darcy DuMont, I live in South Amherst and am a member of Zero Waste Amherst. As you know, I have been working with others on the proposal to transition our waste hauler system to one of a contract with the hauler which includes compost pick up and costs residents less.

This is a brief update on actions taken in the last month by Zero Waste Amherst to move the proposal forward.

In February 2022, major news outlets reported that, according to a new statement from the UN International Panel on Climate Change, humanity has a rapidly narrowing window to avert a harrowing future, unless major transformative solutions are undertaken, and that adaptation efforts must be paired with radical action to cut carbon pollution. Towns are now looking at ways to accelerate climate action by doubling down on implementation of solutions like building decarbonization and zero waste. The ZWA proposal has the potential of reducing our town trash by about 40%, with the accompanying reduction in climate emissions and general air pollution.

Trash reduction is a climate justice issue. The vast majority of climate emissions and pollution from our Amherst trash don’t happen in Amherst. The pollution and emissions happen in and around the sites of landfills and incinerators, which are much more likely to be located near climate justice communities. The health of folks living there is directly affected by what we do in Amherst to reduce the air, water and soil pollution.

This month, the ZWA workgroup again met with staff from other towns to learn more about their services and costs.  We have an appointment next week to meet with Louisville, Colorado’s Ecocycle, to find out more about their compost pick up program, rates and costs. An example of the difference between Louisville and Amherst is that, if I lived in Louisville, which has a contract with Republic Services, I would be paying $16/month for trash, recycling and compost pickup. Here, I pay USA Hauling and Recycling $55/month for exactly the same services, including USA’s optional curbside compost pick up.

ZWA also started to meet with Town Councilors, to educate them on the issue and gain their support.

We also spent time meeting with Susan Waite, former Amherst Recycling Coordinator and current Department of Environmental Protection Western Region Municipal Assistance Coordinator, to delve deeper into issues around transfer station services, haulers, toter maintenance, DEP grant possibilities, and the concept of town wide bulky waste days. We continue to expand our knowledge base.

Again, ZWA is promoting this proposal because it will dramatically reduce waste and help achieve our climate and zero waste goals. The fact that it will save residents money is an added benefit..

We’d be glad to answer any questions and otherwise, will see you next month with our next update on the proposal. If any member would like to meet with us individually to get a briefing, please let us know.

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