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Swampscott board talks trash

SWAMPSCOTT — The Select Board is weighing a new contract with the town’s trash hauler, JRM Hauling and Recycling Services. 

The town is currently paying JRM on a month-to-month basis; its solid waste contract with the company expired on July 1. 

On Wednesday night, the Select Board was presented with a “first reading” of a new five-year contract that has been proposed by the trash-hauling company. The contract was introduced by Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald and two members of the town’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee. 

Under the terms of the new contract, the town would be paying approximately $1.56 million annually for solid waste management fees. According to Fitzgerald, the cost of the contract would stabilize, with no rate increase, for the first two years. 

The actual cost of the contract would be less than the estimated cost, he said, explaining that this would be due to continued waste reduction and recycling efforts under the town’s Solid Waste Reduction Plan that was implemented in August of 2020.

“These numbers reflect the market, and when we look around at what other communities are paying, we see these numbers compare favorably; these are good solid numbers,” said Fitzgerald. 

Under its current monthly agreement, the town utilizes JRM for the weekly collection, transportation, and marketing of recyclable materials, solid waste, and a limited amount of bulky waste. 

In past years, Swampscott has tried to get a handle on the rising cost of solid waste removal. For example, in the past three years, the town has seen its trash and recycling fees increase by 2.5 percent. This proposed contract seeks to stabilize this trend, with Fitzgerald crediting the town’s Solid Waste Reduction Plan for lowering the cost of its next contract. 

In the plan’s first year, the town has seen significant positive change, said Fitzgerald. The town was able to eliminate an estimated 283 tons of non-recyclable waste, which translates to a 7 percent reduction of annual non-recyclable waste, he said. 

The town’s recycling rate has increased by 20 percent since the Solid Waste Reduction Plan was implemented, said Fitzgerald. This translates to an estimated 306 tons of additional waste that was recycled, he said. 

“On average, we generate 3,600 tons of trash or solid waste a year, and on average we generate 1,200 tons of recyclables,” said Fitzgerald. “These numbers are changing because we recently changed our service level of solid waste and recycling.” 

While a formal vote was not taken on the contract, Select Board members had a favorable reaction to the proposal and indicated a vote may be taken after a second reading. 

“(I) look forward to hearing what you have when we come back for a second reading and likely vote on this,” said Select Board Chair Peter Spellios. 

However, board member Neal Duffy said while he thinks the proposed contract is a good deal, the town should keep its options open and try to get an even better one. 

“We definitely have a lot of work to do,” said Duffy. 

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