Why Should You Care?

Newburyport’s trash collection, hauling and incineration fees are paid for through Newburyport’s property taxes. While residents are not charged directly (not collected separately/individually) for trash disposal, it is *not free*.

a. Economic (micro – City of Newburyport) The city spends roughly $1 million dollars each year on waste collection, removal and incineration. Trash collection and hauling account for roughly 2/3 of the costs (both trash and recycling) and “tipping fees” for incineration ($62/ton) accounts for the other 1/3. While this is only ~2% of Newburyport’s budget, it is still a huge amount of money that could be much better used elsewhere.

The city provides for trash collection for residents only, though downtown businesses are included due to the mix of residences and businesses.

It is very important to note that trash COSTS money but recycling MAKES money. For every 1lb of recyclables that is put into trash, we are losing ~$.005 in recycling rebates PLUS getting charged $.03 in tipping fees – a total loss of 3.5 cents per pound. Not much? How much of our 11,800,000lbs of trash could we divert each year? A mere 10% increase in diversion from garbage to recycling could save our city over $36k per year in tipping fees. In addition, based on enforcement monitoring, Newburyport could easily divert a full 20% of curbside recyclable materials from the waste stream. Even greater savings, through reduction in what’s recycled (“REDUCE, reuse, recycle”) could be achieved with decreased collection and hauling

Our trash collection takes place every day, every week throughout the city. Each day, the trash truck makes at least two trips in that day’s collection area with loads to either a transfer facility or directly to the incinerator in N. Andover. Recycling collection takes place every day but for only ~50% of that day’s collection area. The recycling truck also makes two trips to cover that day’s appointed recycling area – one trip full and one trip nearly full.  The size of the loads are approximate and vary with the area and time of year.
When costs are broken down, each trip for either recycling or trash collection is ~$639. We get paid $10/ton for recycling and pay $62/ton for incineration.

b. Economics – macro (Commonwealth of Massachusetts)
Massachusetts has, in effect, three forms of Municipal Solid Waste disposal – landfill, incineration and export out of state for treatment. In Newburyport, our waste disposal contractors use the incineration facility in North Andover for 100% of our waste. The incinerator in North Andover is one of seven incineration facilities in the commonwealth.
As a state, we either need to “diet (reduce) or buy new (very expensive and ugly) pants!” In 1990, the state of Massachusetts called  for a ban  on further development of incineration facilities because of the air pollution and the byproducts that still needed to go to landfill. In May 2013, the ban was “eased” by Governor Patrick, not because of technological improvements that minimize the problems of incineration but because it is forecasted that Massachusetts will exceed the capacity of our current seven incineration facilities by upwards of 18% by 2020. If waste is not reduced, the state will need to invest and expand infrastructure at very high costs and/or increasingly “export” our wastes at a very high cost and a reduction in efficiency.

The proverbial “new pants”, meaning incineration facilities, are ugly, costly, pollute the air, and cannot be reversed – the scar on the earth is permanent in the atmosphere and on the ground. Read more on this.

If you are interested in learning more about the moratorium and the recent adjustment due to the state’s solid waste master plan and forecast, please see http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/12/31/massachusettsproposes-loosening-moratorium-incinerators/OQq5vWwWKzmGXBJ6NVkOTP/story.html and http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/mass_roundup/2013/05/deval-patrick-lifts-incinerator-ban.html

In addition to the costs and development cited above, residents of Newburyport should be concerned about waste management for the sake of the environment. A vast majority of the world’s scientific community believe climate change is happening and is primarily a man-made issue. Current waste disposal methods and excess waste generation are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and other factors contributing to climate change. Closer to home, you and your family deserve a safe, healthy and beautiful place to live – without the risk of a new incinerator being built in or near our city.