Consternation Grows over Pay-As-You-Throw and Bulky Waste Fees

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

Weston residents have taken to Facebook to worry over impending changes at the Transfer Station to a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) model. A rally cry of “give me my free sofa chucking or give me death” may have recently been overheard. Bulky waste fees are planned to go into effect on May 1, 2021, and Pay As You Throw fully implemented in the fall of 2021.

A recent post showing proposed new Bulky Waste fees for certain items has caused some hilarity on the page–who throws away a piano at the transfer station? Actually, it has happened more than once and at least one transfer station employee has wowed the masses with some fine piano-playing. Also, what’s the difference between a carpet and a rug? Why is an air conditioner $20 and a de-humidifier $25? What is other and why is it only $5? Can’t we all name our stuff “other” and be done with it? That’s only $5. How much is Cornelius the Snake to drop off? Does anyone remember Cornelius?

Courtesy photo

The PAYT and bulky waste communications strategy is still being worked out, apparently, though the Owl would like to remind the town working group that putting the cart before the horse never works in the home of the Wildcats, especially if the cart costs $25 and the horse may be considered other ($5). The Wes-TEN will shortly be on the scene after its recent deep dive into the world of rock in Weston. Priorities, people.

What is clear is that Weston needs to do something about its status as Queen of the Pigs. Weston currently holds the outright winning spot as water spendthrift in Massachussetts, and has solidly moved into Princess level on trash generated.

Here’ s the mass.gov 2011 chart. See that red long jalapeno pepper next to orange Waltham and Wellesley and hanging out below the always-green pickle of Lincoln? Yep. Weston. More than 2250 pounds of trash per year per household. Think about that: per household! Where are my mathies to tell us the overall haul of Weston? I don’t want to know.

2011 numbers, over 2250 PER HOUSEHOLD per year.

So let’s look at more recent numbers–these from 2019. How are we doing, Weston? Look–Lincoln is still green (I told you so) and we’ve traded colors with Waltham. Wellesley just blew by us.

2019. Here’s your close-up on Weston where we are doing better than Waltham: Princess level

Folks, Boston throws away less crap than we do on a per household level. Those Steinways do weigh A LOT. Yes, I said crap but we all know the Owl is not the real media. Neither is Facebook Community.

So, we all agree that something must be done, right? So why PAYT? I looked through Weston’s communications points but not finding anything, I went over to mass.gov which is so rich in information, I hope Weston did not pay for a communications consultant. It’s all there. So here you go, my summary, no charge:

Pay As You Throw has been shown to be the single most effective tool to reduce waste and increase recycling. Data, folks. Not stories about “when I was a kid, we didn’t call it recycling, we called it ‘use the bottle again.'”

Pay As You Throw provides a more equitable allocation of fees–you pay for what you throw out (hence the name PAYT). It’s just like utilities, no? If you live in a giant mansion and like a steady 78 degree temperature in your house, well, I don’t want to subsidize it from my regular size house (probably termed small here in Weston) where my kids have to wear down coats inside in the winter (true story).

Pay As You Throw provides environmental and economic benefits, and a secondary public relations benefit in that Weston does not look like a town full of jerks who water their lawns until the wetlands have dried out, and throw away their Porshes in the transfer station. Actually I do not see car on the list, but having seen a few old hulks out in Ogilvie Forest, I am suspicious.

As for the feedback that these new charges will push people to use private services (full disclosure: I pay for Orifice Refuse, compost here in my own yard, and have a recycling sticker from the Weston transfer station), don’t get too excited. Orifice also charges for pick-up of bulky items and guess what, the Steinway and the Porsche do not fit in that big green can. To tell you the full truth, the Owl and its large staff cannot fully comprehend the outrage that is coming with Pay As You Throw. A better communications strategy would help folks understand that this is actually completely okay. As the Wes-TEN would say, just look at Weston moving into the 21st century, 21 years later.

More information from the town here. Hate mail welcome here at thewestonowl@gmail.com.

3 comments

  • Christine Brandt

    Thanks for providing helpful background information. It is sensible to look at how to reduce waste, and if charges help to change behaviors when other means haven’t succeeded…so be it. It does help to see that other towns have seen the light. I think everyone has to tone down the outrage reaction and save it for the important stuff. I do appreciate your voice of reason.

  • For those interested in learning more about PAYT, the MA DEP has great information here: https://www.mass.gov/lists/pay-as-you-throw-paytsave-money-and-reduce-trash-smart
    As a society we are exhausting our planet’s capacity to absorb waste, with overflowing landfills and aging incinerators, both of which cause toxic air, water, and ground pollution. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must rethink our approach to trash. PAYT is a win-win: it creates incentives to recycle, gets usable goods out of the trash stream (and into the hands of those in need of them), AND saves taxpayer money, without raising the cost of disposing of trash for the average household. Change is hard, but If we want to keep our planet livable, the status quo is not an option. Our neighbors Acton, Concord, Holliston, Hudson, Littleton, Maynard, Natick, Needham, Sudbury & Wayland all have PAYT.

  • Pingback: Last Day for Leaftopia and First Day for Bulky Waste Pricing | Weston Owl

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