It was exciting to find out recently that there’s a similar campaign in Lexington, Massachusetts to provide townwide curbside compost pick up.
There are in fact a few towns in MA that have already instituted voluntary compost pick up. Some towns in Eastern Massachusetts have partnered with Black Earth Compost to provide town-wide service. Those towns include at least Lexington, Natick, Watertown, Newton, Brookline, and Canton, Wakefield, and Belmont. The residents opting to get that service have to pay an additional amount for the service – usually around $11/month. USA Hauling and Recycling, serving Amherst, also provides the option of voluntary curbside compost pick up for an additional $15/month.
Lexington and Amherst are taking the next logical step. They are moving to make the curbside compost pickup universal instead of voluntary. That way, the service is included for all, rather than for only a small percentage of residents who have to pay extra for it. The waste reduction overall is greatly increased when the whole town is participating rather than just the voluntary composters.
The other thing Amherst would need to do to adopt this program is to transition to contracting with a hauler.
That’s actually the bigger decision. Zero Wast Amherst’s recent research indicates that of the 18 municipalities in Massachusetts closest to Amherst in population, twelve provide hauling of trash and recycling in house, five provide it through a contract with a hauler, and one – Amherst – is “washed hands”, meaning it lets the hauler have free rein to charge high rates and do little or nothing to actually reduce our waste.
Let’s not be the outlier. The support for Amherst’s hauler reform proposal is widespread, so let’s all do what we can to push it into adoption.
Darcy DuMont is a founding member of Zero Waste Amherst and of Local Energy Advocates of Western MA. As a Town Councilor, she sponsored the legislation creating the Amherst Energy and Climate Action Committee.