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Saugus changing rubbish policies

SAUGUS – Families putting five trash barrels at the curb for pickup each week will soon pay more to dispose of the hefty volume.The town is implementing several key changes in its trash collection and recycling policies, including a stricter enforcement effort against residents who don’t abide by the rules. The changes begin in August.”We have hit the wall with percentage of recycling and just can’t seem to get past that point,” said Town Manager Andrew Bisignani. “Right now, less than 60 percent of the people in Saugus engage in recycling. That’s not a bad number, but what those people recycle amounts to only a third of the overall volume that’s out there in recyclable materials.”Lorna Cerbone, the town’s solid waste recycling coordinator, confirmed Bisignani’s numbers, noting the town makes 8,800 recycling stops weekly.Since the town has approximately 27,000 residents, based on the 2000 Census, the number of stops seems to corroborate the 33 percent recycling level.”About 80 percent of the trash still out there is recyclable and we will be moving toward stricter enforcement,” the town manager said. “We are reducing the number of 35-gallon barrels people can put out at the curb.”Currently, a single-family home in Saugus is allowed five trash barrels per week. A two-family home can put out twice that amount. Once the changes go into effect on Aug. 1, a single-family home will be allowed three barrels per week, a two-family home six barrels and a three-family home nine barrels.”The town surveyed its residents and found that 90 percent of the people are putting out three barrels or less per week. We also learned that 56 percent are recycling,” said Cerbone.If additional barrels or large items like furniture are left at the curb for collection, each must have a $2 green sticker attached, available for purchase at Town Hall. Although residents were limited to a single green sticker per collection, under the new rules they will be allowed two.”Any more than three barrels, you start to pay for the extra,” Bisignani said.According to Cerbone, many residents are currently using oversized barrels. “These are very problematic. People need to use no larger than 35-gallon barrels,” she said, adding that JRM, the town’s contracted waste hauler, has advised its employees not to lift any barrels larger than 35-gallon capacity or weighing more than 60 pounds.”JRM told us some employees are complaining of back problems. So part of our new enforcement will be to crack down use of oversized barrels and the number of barrels. JRM will not pick up more than three barrels per unit unless the barrels or bags are properly identified with a $2 sticker.”Bisignani said the changes are meant to save the town money and have been endorsed by the Board of Health and the non-profit environmental group SAVE. “The good thing is, you can put out all the recyclables you want. There’s no limit,” he said.Cerbone explained enhanced enforcement is a first step as the town downsizes its trash allowance from five barrels to three, and eventually to two barrels.”We’re also going to get stricter about what is in those two barrels,” Bisignani said.Under Massachusetts law, residents are banned from throwing away recyclable materials.”If recyclables mixed in with your trash, we don’t pick up the barrel,” Cerbone said.Residents can put at the curb multiple plastic bins labeled as containers for recyclables or use a different container as long as it is clearly labeled.Bisignani added, “We are trying to get a reasonable amount of recyclable materials out of the trash stream and, right now, 33 percent is not reasonable.”The goal, said Cerbone, is to send the least amount of trash possible to the Wheelabrator. “We need to get our tonnage down. For every ton we send to RESCO, the town gets a bill for $71. But there’s no charge for sending recyclables that have been separated from the trash.”Saugus currently has two semi-retirees who work as part-time recycling enforcement office

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