Wareham Health Board questions trash hauler on recycling material mixed with garbage

Sep 19, 2018

Two waste disposal companies were called before the Wareham Board of Health on Wednesday, Sept. 19, following reports that a resource recovery facility found too many recyclable items mixed in with trash hauls. 

Republic Services was reported to have a 25 percent contamination rate of recyclables in one of its trucks while Howland Disposal Services had a 10 percent contamination rate. The report came from the Covanata Energy Corporation, which works in conjunction with Rochester-based waste-to-energy facility SEMASS to evaluate trash hauls collected in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Despite both companies being ordered to appear, only Howland Disposal Services General Manager Mark J. Moran was present before the board. 

As Moran explained, Howland employees are not responsible for examining what’s been thrown out. 

“What we pick up is what our clients leave us,” Moran said. “I could go through our logs to try and find the business responsible, but there’s no guarantee any one would own up.”

Moran also pointed out that companies often mix trash and recyclables to reduce expenses. 

“Business owners have a responsibility to make sure items are going into the correct bin,” said Wareham Health Inspector Patrick MacDonald, who covered for Health Agent Robert Ethier at the meeting. 

The board ultimately decided to recommend that Howland place stickers on their bins to denote which items can be disposed of inside.

“Figuring out what’s recyclable and what’s not can be extremely confusing,” said Board of Health Chair Amy Wiegandt. “This type of signage would hopefully clear things up.”

Wiegandt also suggested that the board hold an informational session on recycling to reduce the possibility of future contamination. No official date for the session was set.