Milford eyes pay-to-throw disposal program

MILFORD – The town’s recycling committee is studying the idea of a pay-to-throw program as a way to increase recycling and cut down on the town’s costs for garbage disposal.

WasteZero, a municipal solid-waste-reduction company based in South Carolina, made a presentation at the selectmen’s March 3 meeting, said Selectman Gary Daniels, who also is a committee member.

Under a plan called PAYT, residents would buy plastic bags for their nonrecyclables, providing a financial incentive to separate solid waste from recycling material.

“The idea is they would recycle more, because there would be no cost to recycle,” Daniels said.

Among the issues surrounding PAYT, he said, is that some people won’t be able to afford to buy the bags and what incentive stores would have to sell them.

Daniels said one argument against the plan – that it would increase roadside littering – hasn’t seemed to be a problem.

Town Finance Director Jack Sheehy noted that in a community where he once lived, stores bought the bags and seemed happy to sell them to residents. The town could also make them available at the transfer station or town offices.

A number of New Hampshire communities have pay-to-throw systems, including Concord.

Proponents say it encourages residents to recycle more and throw away less, helping keep down the cost of solid waste removal, although it hasn’t always been a success in towns that have tried it. In Tilton, voters last year did away with a pay-to-throw program that had been in existence for three years.

Department of Public Works Director Rick Riendeau said that in recent years, it cost the town about $220,000 a year to dispose of garbage that can’t be recycled, not including demolition trash.

According to WasteZero’s website, communities in the United States throw away more than 500 billion pounds of trash per year, and much of that can be recycled.

The Milford committee started looking into the advantages and disadvantages last summer, according to meeting minutes.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or 
kcleveland@cabinet.com.