But the MassDEP has written guidelines to enhance recycling and the requirement is that each town must require all haulers to offer bundled pricing of both recycling and waste disposal services in order to receive grant money for transitional programs. The reason for this is to level the playing field, according to Sharon Kishida, the MassDEP Northeast Region II recycling coordinator.
At this time only the municipal haulers are required to offer both recycling and trash removal in one bundled price to the town. Private haulers can offer only waste disposal to individual households and many do just this or add extra costs for recycling. This creates a disincentive for households to recycle and also prompts households to use the municipal service just for recycling. Up to 300 Merrimac households have opted out of the municipal service.
“With a level collection field, current residential customers receiving municipal collection service would not have an incentive to opt out of the town’s PAYT curbside collection (where residents pay for each bag/barrel of trash),” Kishida said in an email.
According to the new regulations (Section 2.2) “waste and recycling services shall be offered to customers as part of an integrated waste management service.” The Mass DEP would like the language to also include “in one bundled price” for these services to make the haulers include the services in their pricing regime.
Selectmen have been prompting the Board of Health to alter the waste collection language to fit state guidelines for a number of months. At the essence of the conflict is a concern from the BOH about regulating small trash haulers who now service many town residents. Eileen Hurly, health board chairman, speaking on behalf of the entire board, said that they did not want to unfairly penalize small trash haulers by including this language.