Wednesday December 5, 2012

BRATTLEBORO - The Selectboard is going to consider extending the curbside compost pickup program so that every resident in town would be able to take part.

The town supported a voluntary pilot program over the past three months with 152 households. Recycling Coordinator Moss Kahler came to Tuesday night's meeting to say that the program has been successful.

The board said it wanted a little more information before committing to a townwide program, but the board members seemed supportive and the townwide program could start as early as this spring.

Kahler said that each household, on average, composted between 10 and 12 pounds of compost weekly, and Town Manager Barbara Sondag said the town has saved about $25,000 in tipping fees by diverting the heavy waste away from the landfill.

If the town does move ahead, Sondag said the board would want to continue funding a coordinator, and she also said the town would probably have to purchase some bins.

The board and Sondag discussed if there was money in the current fiscal year to begin the program in March, or if they would have to wait until the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Sondag thinks the money saved would help support any future costs the town might have to pick up in education or material costs.

"There is a real opportunity here for the town of Brattleboro to do something in a positive way," Sondag said. "It is a way to attack a portion of the budget that we think is out of our control and do something innovative.


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The board might formally vote on extending the program at its next regular meeting.

Kahler said the compost program has been successful in more ways than one.

In October, he said, Brattleboro had its highest recycling rate ever, with 34 percent of the town's potential waste being recycled or composted.

The state goal is 30 percent.

Peter Gaskill, of Triple T Trucking, the company that has been hauling the waste, said it might be possible to start weekly recycling pickup if the town moves ahead with the compost program.

And Windham Solid Waste Management District Director Bob Spencer told the board that the compost quality has been high.

He said the program will only be successful if the waste does not include non-compostable materials, and so far, the garbage has been making high-quality compost.

He said compost from the program might be available this spring.

Spencer also said he was looking for a commitment from the town, because if the board decides to extend the program the waste management district would have to invest in some materials to handle the waste.

"Brattleboro is now a leader in Vermont, and really, in all of New England," he said. "A lot of people are looking at this program."

The last pilot pickup will occur on Dec. 21.

Kahler said when he started the program there were 40 people who had to be put on a waiting list, and at the end of the program every single participant said he or she would continue with the pickup if it was extended.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.