Letter:  There’s A Better Way To Collect Trash That Can Save Residents Money While Helping To Save The Planet

Compost from Martin's Farm in Greenfield. Photo: Martin's Farm Compost

Ouch. I just got my bill for trash hauling. 

Currently, we have a monopolistic, national hauler system in Amherst that bought up all of our beloved local haulers. It overcharges us and does little to reduce waste. It holds all the cards and is not transparent. Try looking up prices on its website. You won’t find anything. 

A Zero Waste Amherst proposal about to hit the Town Council agenda flips that paradigm to give the Town control over hauling services. The proposal asks simply to transition our current system-  where residents contract with the hauler – to a system where the town contracts with the hauler following a competitive bidding process – and includes in that contract the diverting of compostable materials from our trash. 

Towns with contracts, like South Hadley and Agawam, end up costing residents far less. Even towns that include curbside compost pick up, like Louisville, Colorado, still cost less for virtually all residents.

The proposal is simple. It’s a win, win, win proposition. The environment and climate win because by diverting compostables town-wide, it would reduce our waste by 40% and the compost would be reused. Residents win big by saving money, feeling good about reducing their waste and having a way to compost yard waste too. Communities living near landfills win by reducing the pollution caused by sending our waste to their neighborhoods. The town would win by saving money on the contract because “disposal” of compost at a compost processing facility is a lot less expensive than disposing of it at a landfill – and of course by being a Zero Waste leader. ZWA is not asking for the Town to take over waste hauling because we know that would require a new department and vehicles and staff. Instead, this would be a simple fix and a no brainer at that.

And we expect this proposal to preserve and expand our transfer station services.

Please let the Town Council know that you support this simple proposal so that we can win, win, win!


Darcy DuMont

Darcy DuMont, a former town councilor, is a founding member of Zero Waste Amherst and of Local Energy Advocates of Western MA. As a councilor, she sponsored the legislation creating the Amherst Energy and Climate Action Committee.

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2 thoughts on “Letter:  There’s A Better Way To Collect Trash That Can Save Residents Money While Helping To Save The Planet

  1. I second Laura’s thanks!

    Here’s what I just sent to the Town Council:

    I enthusiastically support the Zero Waste Amherst proposal as outlined by Councilor Darcy DuMont in her Amherst INDY letter of 1 July 2022 (https://www.amherstindy.org/2022/07/01/letter-theres-a-better-way-to-collect-trash-that-can-save-residents-money-while-helping-to-save-the-planet/#comment-36324).

    One of our friendly trash haulers informed me several weeks ago that the company actually uses “single-stream” hauling. As he showed me, the trash hauler dumps what’s in the recycling bins for paper, together with what’s in the recycling bins for metal, glass, and plastic. My informant then said that human beings somewhere in Connecticut sort it all out again by hand for recycling.

    Could this presumably costly process have something to do with our high Amherst trash hauling costs? Whether or no, it’s certainly counterintuitive.

    Councilor DuMont’s proposal for a competitive town trash hauling contract makes eminent good sense. Please make it so as rapidly as you can.

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