TOWNSEND — The town’s recycling enforcement program will come to an end in late September but according to health administrator Carla Walter, it has been successful so far.
The program started in July 2013 after the town received a $5,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection for a recycling coordinator for 15 months.
In order for the town to receive the grant, it was required to add 20 percent of $5,000 to cover costs.
At the 2013 Spring Town Meeting, voters accepted the grant and added $1,251 to the program.
Walter is the recycling coordinator and has been circling town bi-weekly to take note of which houses recycle and which do not. If she sees a constant violation, she sends out a notice letter.
“I really like to get a pattern before I send out a letter,” she said.
So far three rounds of notices have been sent out.
Walters said she has seen a significant change in residents’ recycling habits. She cites an example on Timberlee Park, where she sent out notices to 100 households in the first round and only five in the third round.
“The program is working. My hope is that when this grant is over, we try our best to keep recycling,” she said.
There have been complaints from residents who received notice letters stating that they could not bring out the recycling on a specific day for various reasons. Walters said she tries to explain to residents that she does several surveying rounds before she sends out a notice.
She also said she has not fined anyone in town yet.
“I like to remind residents that recycling is a state law, and that curbside trash pickup is a voluntary program,” she said, “If they choose to participate, there are rules to follow.”
If residents chose to participate in curbside trash pickup, they must recycle as well. Recycling is not limited and must be separated from the regular trash. The schedules and routes for curbside trash and recycling pickup are posted on the Townsend website. Recycling trucks pass by on a bi-weekly basis after regular trash trucks.
She also said that some residents have expressed concerns about their civil rights being violated but she said once the trash is on the curb, it is no longer their property.
Walters said she has seen a significant increase in illegal dumping of trash. She thinks it’s people who exceed their trash limit who are discarding their remaining trash in other locations around town.
“People are going to a neighbor’s vacant house and dumping their trash,” she said.
She plans to discuss with the Board of Health ways to fine people who attempt to dump their trash illegally.
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