By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Department of Public Works is looking to implement new rules for trash collection and cardboard recycling this fall.
Select Board Chairman Joe Connell said during a May 22 meeting that the Recycling Committee recently voted to recommend that the DPW’s seven-barrel household limit for weekly trash collection be reduced to five. He said DPW Director John Tomasz supports the Recycling Committee’s proposal.
“Most communities have adopted such measures as a way to reduce tipping fees and encouraging recycling,” said Connell.
Tomasz said the DPW currently allows residents to use up to seven trash barrels, which he called a “lenient policy.”
“I did a study of local communities, and most of them have a two-barrel limit for what is allowed,” said Tomasz. “This is a step in the right direction that the Department of Environmental Protection would like to see us go to. If you are putting out seven barrels, you are probably not doing any recycling. Lord knows what you are up to. Even at five, you are being more than generous with what you are allowing to throw out. The Recycling Committee voted in favor of it, and I am in favor of it. Seven is way too many. I would be shocked if there is any place on the North Shore that allows anything more than five.”
Town Administrator Rob Dolan noted that the Recycling Committee’s five-barrel limit request would not go into effect until September. He said the DPW will be educating residents before the change is implemented.
“We would send out a mailing about this issue,” said Dolan. “In the initial stages, we certainly would not leave barrels out in the street. We would use some door hangers or some kind of a communication until people become compliant. I think this is a happy and pragmatic solution.”
Select Board member Dick Dalton questioned whether reducing the seven-barrel limit to five “would really do anything.”
“I have driven through different streets on trash days, and I don’t know if I have ever seen seven barrels unless someone was renovating their house,” said Dalton. “Going down to five sounds good, but I can’t envision a real positive impact.”
Tomasz said he and the Recycling Committee would be “happy” to implement a two or three barrel limit.
“I was driving around today, and very few people have more than two,” said Tomasz. “I think two is the average for most folks. I think this is a step in the right direction that would put us in better graces with the DEP, which likes to see things like this happen when we are applying for grants.”
Dalton proposed that the DPW conduct a survey about the number of trash barrels in front of houses.
“That way we would at least know what is out there,” said Dalton. “What my gut tells me is there has got to be very few people with more than three barrels.”
Tomasz said Dalton is correct.
“We did a survey three years ago, and we got about 1,400 responses,” said Tomasz. “One of the questions we asked was how many barrels do you put out. I can get you that number. For the most part, it’s two to three barrels. The committee thought we should take a baby step, and see how things go.”
Dalton said the data will help the Select Board make an informed decision.
While Select Board member Phil Crawford said the proposed five-barrel limit was “a step in the right direction,” he said, “It might not be a big enough step.”
“I have relatives who live in other communities that have a two-barrel limit under their taxes,” said Crawford. “They get charged for anything over the two-barrel limit.”
Connell proposed that the Select Board hold off on making the trash barrel limit change until its next meeting.
Cardboard recycling change
Connell also said Tomasz has requested to relocate four cardboard recycling containers inside the recycling fence at the DPW yard behind Town Hall. The containers are currently located in the portion of the Town Hall parking lot that abuts the Pope-Richard Lynnfield Historical Center.
“This is the result of the constant issues of messy conditions and possible abuse from business owners around the region,” said Connell.
Tomasz said a number of people are not breaking the cardboard down when they leave it in the containers.
“They are being tossed outside,” said Tomasz. “Once they are left outside, they end up blowing all over the parking lot and into the neighbors’ property. It has just become a little bit out of control. It’s not just happening once a month. We are pretty much dealing with this mess out there once a week. This is a step to rein things in a little bit.”
While Tomasz said the four containers are “emptied every day,” he said, “There is no control for what people dump out and leave there.”
“It’s not just cardboard,” said Tomasz. “It’s also Styrofoam and trash. It’s unfortunately become an unsightly mess at Town Hall.”
Tomasz recalled that the DPW yard is currently open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. He is looking to open the yard on Mondays in the future.
“If you move it back there, there will be people overseeing what is going on,” said Tomasz. “It will probably start sometime in September so people have an idea about what is going on.”
Tomasz noted there have been townspeople who have complained about the mess at the cardboard containers.
Connell said he has seen contractors pull up in vans and dump a bunch of cardboard inside the containers.
“It’s unfortunately being abused,” said Connell. “I think once it’s inside, we can keep an eye on it. I think it is the right thing to do.”
Dalton expressed his support for Tomasz’s request.
“I think it’s a good move,” said Dalton. “I think it’s unfair to the neighbors who have to contend with a situation like this.”
“You don’t have any room for residents to drop off cardboard when the contractors come in,” said Crawford. “I don’t think we have another choice at this point.”
Dolan said cardboard recycling “costs a lot of money.”
“It used to be a money maker,” said Dolan. “Every time we dump out the container, it’s about $700 extra a week. The only way for us to manage trash collections, which was the highest increase other than the school budget a few years back, is to lower tonnage, increase recycling and manage.”
The Select Board is scheduled to vote on Tomasz’s request at its next meeting.