Board Of Health Urges Action On Waste Hauler Reform

Photo: CalRecycle

Report On The Meeting Of The Amherst Board Of Health, May 11,2023

This meeting was held over Zoom and was recorded. It can be viewed here.

Nancy Gilbert (Chair), Maureen Millea, Tim Randhir, Premila Nair, and Lauren Mills
Staff: Kyle O’Connor, Public Health Program Assistant

Zero Waste Amherst Asks For BOH Support To Enact Waste Hauler Reform By 2024
In public comment, District 3 resident and Zero Waste Amherst member Darcy DuMont requested that the Board of Health urge the Town Council to move ahead with the Waste Hauler Reform bylaw that has been long-stalled in the Town Services and Outreach Committee. DuMont told the board:

“Thank you for taking my public comment on behalf of Zero Waste Amherst. I am here to give the Board more of an update than what is in the Zero Waste Amherst letter to the Board.”

“First, I think you received an update on the survey ZWA was requested to conduct regarding Amherst’s current hauler services with USA Waste and Recycling. They are the only company licensed to collect residential waste in Amherst so people either need to use either the Transfer Station or USA. USA states it has approximately 3200 residential customers in Amherst.”

“In the survey, we found that USA is not attempting to reduce trash via any pay as you throw system. It charges people who get trash pick-up every two weeks the same as those who get pick up every week. It charges only two dollars difference between trash cart sizes per month, providing virtually no incentive to reduce trash. We confirmed both our trash reduction and pricing data with USA. The main reason the survey was conducted was that their prices have not been transparent to the public. We found that the average price is approximately $550/yr, including the 200 residents who, because they for some reason can’t get a cart to the curb, must pay over $1000/yr.”

“We have a long list of supporting organizations from around town and now a list of over 80 folks who have volunteered to help do outreach for the program if and when it launches. We fervently hope the Town Council will adopt the proposed bylaw by early summer so that the BoH can then promulgate amended regulations and we can get a request for proposals out this fall and start the program in January of 2024.”

It would be hugely beneficial to the public health, the climate and to residents’ pocketbooks to start reducing our waste in January 2024 rather than waiting yet another year.”

“Thanks very, very much for your consideration.”

Board Of Health Unanimously Agrees To Encourage Council To Act On Hauler Reform
After a brief discussion, the BOH voted unanimously to send a letter to town councilors, urging them to expedite their development and passage of a waste hauler bylaw which directs the town to contract with a waste hauler to provide pay-as-you-throw trash disposal and curbside recycling and composting. Requiring residents to purchase garbage bags for trash, as well as providing curbside composting, has been shown to reduce the amount of trash created. As a result of the unanimous vote, BOH Chair Nancy Gilbert wrote the following letter to the Town Council.

Dear Town Council Members,

At our May 11 Board of Health meeting, members of the board unanimously voted to urge the Town Council to act on adopting the proposal to transition Amherst’s waste hauler system to a town-contracted pay as you throw fee structure including curbside compost pick up by early summer in order to have this implemented by January 2024.

The Board of Health began exploring this during the summer of 2021 and passed a motion at our November 18, 2021 meeting to create a working group to review the existing Regulations for Refuse Collection and Mandatory Recycling (last revised June 2014) and “establish elements of a pilot program to be provided directly by the town or through a town contract with one or more haulers, that would include curbside trash, recycling and compostable materials pick up in a basic service, a pay-as-you-throw fee structure and local compostable materials processing and reuse.”  The motion included membership of the working group and a timeline with a start date of January, 2023 for the pilot program. The Town Manager responded that the town at that point in time lacked the staffing capacity to form the working group.

At the January, 2022 Board of Health meeting, the following motion was passed unanimously: “The Board of Health supports the Zero Waste Amherst’s proposal for a pilot project to include curbside trash, recycling, and compostable materials pick-up in basic service, and is asking for input from the Town Council and the Town Manager for action on the Zero Waste Amherst’s proposal to move the proposal forward.”

At the June 9, 2022 Board of Health meeting the members requested an update from the Town Council on the pilot project proposal and sent a letter to the Town Council requesting that the proposal be put on the council’s agenda.

We are now urging the Town Council to act on adopting the proposal on town contracted residential refuse, recycling and compostable materials collection included in basic service.

Thank you for your action on this proposal.  The proposal begins to address climate change related issues, reduce our waste and lower refuse collection costs for town residents.


Nancy J Gilbert 
Chair, Amherst Board of Health

Nicotine Permit Denied To New Business At 6 University Drive
Praful and Oscar Patel of Nilkanth Associates, the new owners of University Liquors at 6 University Drive requested a reinstatement of the permit to sell tobacco products that was retired when the previous business at that location closed.

In public comment, Heather Warner, MPH and Prevention Specialist for Collaborative Educational Services and Lisa Stevens-Goodnight of Tobacco Free Mass spoke against reinstating the permit. Both stated that studies have shown that young people who even see tobacco products on store shelves are more likely to use them, and that their aim is to reduce the number of establishments that sell nicotine products. They noted that the proximity of this location to UMass makes it likely that young people will patronize the store.

BOH Chair Nancy Gilbert noted that the town’s tobacco regulations section 10b states:

“Any permit not renewed either because a retailer no longer sells tobacco products or because a retailer closes the retail business, shall be returned to the Amherst Board of Health and shall be permanently retired by the Board of Health and the total allowable number of Tobacco Product Sales Permits under subsection A (above) shall be reduced by the number of retired permits.”

Based on this clear statement aimed at reducing the number of nicotine permits, the BOH voted unanimously to permanently retire the permit. The attorney for the Patels, Dick Evans was present at the meeting, but did not speak during the period allowed for public comment and was not permitted to speak when the topic of the permit was being discussed.

The next Board of Health meeting is June 8 at 5:30. That will be Gilbert’s last meeting as chair. Maureen Millea agreed to chair the July meeting. The board will have two vacancies as of July 1.

Spread the love

1 thought on “Board Of Health Urges Action On Waste Hauler Reform

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.