Town solicits bids for curbside trash pick-up

Jul 29, 2020

Town-wide curbside pick-up of both refuse and recycling could be coming to Wareham and Carver as soon as January 1.

The towns have issued a request for proposals for the project, and all bids are due by August 11. 

A new solution for the town’s waste is necessitated by the end of the Carver Marion Wareham Waste District’s contract which allows residents to dispose of waste at the Benson Brook Transfer Station in Marion and the Rte. 28 Transfer Station in Marion.

The district was formed in the 1970s with a contract between the towns and Covanta-SEMASS, the waste-burning facility in Rochester. The contract allowed the three towns to get rid of waste at the SEMASS plant for free in exchange for giving the plant free access to the landfill in Carver. The landfill will soon be full and that contract is set to expire on December 31.

The committee governing the district voted earlier this year to close both the Rte. 28 and Benson Brook transfer stations at the end of 2020, although the possibility of keeping one or both stations open while Wareham and Carver finalize their plans has also been considered. 

Marion owns the Benson Brook Transfer Station and has had a municipal trash pick-up program in place for decades, and is not interested in continuing to work with Wareham and Carver on waste disposal.

While some of the details are up for negotiation, the towns have provided a lengthy outline of what they are looking for from potential contractors.

The contractor would be responsible for picking up refuse at all households in town, excluding mobile home parks and multi-family housing with more than three units, once each week. Single-stream recycling would be picked up every other week on the same day as trash pick-up.

Each home would receive a 65 gallon container with a hinged lid for trash, and a 96 gallon container with a hinged lid for recycling. 

Each container would include an RFID chip capable of  “recording and transmitting address and weight information to the town.”

The contractor would be required to stop at every house, every time, and go back to and addresses that were missed. Additionally, the town has included several measures that would require crews to pick up any refuse or recycling that spilled onto the ground or blew out of the truck during the collection route.

All trash and recycling pick-ups would occur between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., unless the company had specific permission from the town to do otherwise. Trash and recycling would be picked up except for during exceptionally severe weather. 

While the contractor could decline to pick up refuse or recycling for various reasons, such as refuse in the recycling container, workers would need to leave a note explaining why the waste was left.

According to the request, the town may institute a pay-as-you-throw program for refuse. The first waste bin would be included. Additional waste would be disposed of in special pay-as-you-throw garbage bags that are sold at a price that covers waste disposal, or through an additional bin the household would pay a fee to use. 

Pay as you throw programs are meant to incentivize recycling, which is free for the user, and more fairly distribute the costs of waste management. Those who throw away more refuse are charged more, while those who throw away less waste save money. 

The cost of this program is not yet known, and the town may decide not to implement curbside pick-up and instead operate a transfer station either on its own or with Carver. 

The program would most likely be paid for through a surcharge to be added to the property tax bills of households eligible for the program -- that is, single family homes or multi-family homes with three or fewer units. Apartment complexes and mobile home parks are responsible for their own waste management. 

The fee would almost certainly be higher than the $40 cost of a transfer station sticker, but would likely be a savings for those who currently contract with a private hauler for curbside pick-up.

At Tuesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, the selectmen and Town Counsel Richard Bowen discussed how the program would be paid for. Because it would be a mandatory cost for a service, would that make it a fee or a tax? If it’s a tax, does the town have the authority to charge it? And would that tax fit within the bounds of Proposition 2 ½, that limits the amount the town’s tax levy can increase year over year?

All proposals are due by August 11. The proposals will be reviewed by Dave Menard, the director of Municipal Maintenance and the town administrators for Wareham and Carver, Derek Sullivan and Rick LaFond, along with the chief procurement officers for each town.

The proposals will also be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen at a workshop during the first week of September.

The town is also still working on a possible transfer station.

And, ultimately, Town Meeting voters in both towns will decide whether or not to approve the plan.