Letter: Amherst’s Trash Handling System Is Too Costly And Harms The Environment

Amherst transfer station. Photo: amherstma.gov

The following letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council on August 3, 2022.

We moved to Amherst from Westfield, MA three years ago and were shocked at the negative environmental impact and cost of Amherst’s trash handling system.

 By negative environmental impact I mean there are trash removal trucks coming down our little street almost every day. In Westfield, one trash truck came once a week, and another recycling truck followed it. On top of that, there often are cars lined up at the transfer station, engines idling waiting in line. It doesn’t make sense to have all these people each driving cars to haul their own trash. All of this is unnecessary air pollution at a time when we should be doing everything we can to reduce carbon emissions.

Our trash disposal costs tripled when we moved to Amherst compared to Westfield.

I hope you will consider hiring a single trash hauler for the town. Surely, you can use your purchasing power to negotiate a better price collectively than each of us doing this individually. And the reduction in emissions is a huge added benefit.

Kathy Meyer

Kathy Meyer is a resident of Amherst

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Amherst’s Trash Handling System Is Too Costly And Harms The Environment

  1. Is the population of Westfield and its tax base higher than Amherst? This could have contributed to the lower cost. Also, there was probably more than 2 trucks a week driving through Westfield collecting everyone’s trash…diesel powered trucks. The town has one truck that hauls roll off dumpsters from the transfer station to trash/ recycling facilities outside of Amherst. I used to pay over $400 a year to have trash and recycling collected from my home in Amherst. Now I pay $125 plus bags for trash as needed….. that was over 10 years ago.
    David Ortiz

  2. Westfield population is 41,000 and its tax rate is lower than Amherst’s. Its DPW does its hauling. Of the 11 communities in Western MA that are Amherst’s size or larger, only two have not yet transitioned to either taking over hauling or having a town contract with a hauler – Amherst and Northampton.

    Not everyone is able to take their trash, recycling and compost to the Transfer Station. For example, we have 1500 households who are one person living in a house, many of whom are elderly. Many have no choice but to subscribe with the local hauler. Though they may generate very little waste, they pay the same amount as those who fill a 95 gallon toter.

    For example, I use USA hauling and generate about 13 gallons of waste a month. That’s partly because I also pay for their optional compost pick up and most of my waste goes in that bin. The whole deal costs me $660.00 year. My colleague who fills a 95 gallon toter ever two weeks pays the same amount I do.

  3. Waste disposal seems like fertile ground for cooperation between Town, UMass, AC and Hampshire, particularly around a composting initiative.

  4. (1). Food waste is almost 40% of our waste stream and is a bio-degradable product. It has economic value. Matt Blumenfeld’s suggestion above about regional recycling would a home run. (2).My Aunt and Uncle who live in Brooklyn NY have a sealed food compost container delivered to their home and picked up by the City. That New York City is so far ahead of a local town like Amherst is not a positive. (3). Irvington, New York; where I grew up recycles over 65% of their waste: glass, cans, print, and leaf composting. Irvington has been doing this since the 1980’s and yet Amherst is not any way near this level of environmental care. (4). Is it true that even with Town Council approval of this proposal this week, we are still not anywhere near implementation despite how thoroughly this proposal has been vetted with so many organizations?

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