Recycling right helps avoid additional trash fees

By Paul Ploumis

EASTON – As Easton renewed its trash and recycling contract this month, officials urged residents to be careful to follow recycling guidelines to help keep costs down.

The Select Board voted on June 21 to extend its contract with Waste Management another two years to June 23, 2023, pending final review by town counsel. There is a 4 percent increase in cost, but at this time the town is not instituting any increased fees.

However, due to market changes, residents could still see an increase in the next six to 18 months, Town Administrator Connor Read said. He anticipated bringing a fee analysis to the Select Board within the next six to 18 months.

Waste Management has provided curbside trash and recycling pickup to the town since 2007. The program had 4,295 participants of November 2020.

“Waste Management has been very good to work with and has provided good service to the town,” Read said.

Waste Management charges the town an additional fee if recycling put out by residents is contaminated with more than 10 percent non-recyclable items, like plastic bags, Director of Public Works David Field said. The fee is whatever percentage the town is over the 10 percent mark.

Field said the town currently has a contamination rate of 13.8 percent.

“We’d love to be below the 10 percent,” Field said. “Initially we were in the 15s. We have come down. We want to keep the contamination rate as low as possible. It’s going to keep our rates as low as possible.”

The town continues to inform residents what may and may not be recycled. Efforts include a calendar mailed to program participants each year and links on the town website (www.easton.ma.us/easton) to Recycle Smart MA (recyclesmartma.org).

Waste Management will sometimes tag a particular resident’s recycling bin, and Department of Public Works staff will contact the resident about what items were problematic.

The town’s Green Communities Committee is also working on educating residents about recycling.

However, with changes in the market for recyclables, costs are still expected to rise, Read said.

“Even if folks do A-plus work, prices are going to go up,” he said. “That’s the market we’ve been contending with since 2017. Recycling used to be profitable for these businesses and that’s flipped.”

The Select Board raised the quarterly trash fee by $10 to $90, increasing the annual cost to $360, as of Jan. 1, 2021.