Brattleboro to start compost program

Monday May 6, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- It's been more than four years since the Brattleboro Selectboard rejected a pay as you throw trash system, spurring an eventual town meeting vote on the subject, which was also rejected.

Eventually the town did adopt a mandatory recycling ordinance and now Brattleboro residents are poised to make their next move toward reducing the town's impact on the region's ever-shrinking landfill capacity.

Brattleboro is ready to go live with its curbside compost program, one of the first in New England and probably one of the few programs in the country started in a small town with fewer than 20,000 residents.

Weekly curbside pickup is set to begin on May 20.

More than 700 households have signed up for the new curbside system and Kahler said he hopes, and expects, to gain another few hundred in the coming months when word gets around about how convenient and effective it is to keep the heavy household solid waste out of the regular trash pail.

There are about 2,700 stops on the town's trash pickup route.

"It's a very good start," Kahler said. "We received a lot of good feedback during the pilot study and I think more people are going to want to take part once we get going."

The town ran a voluntary pilot study of the curbside compost program in the fall with about 150 households taking part.

Kahler said it was largely a complete success and he said the town is now ready to extend to the service to anyone on the regular trash route who wants to take part.

Curbside compost pickup is completely voluntary.

He acknowledges that just about everyone who took part in the pilot study was motivated and committed to making it work; still, participants were surprised at how easy it was and at how much lighter their weekly trash load was, he said.

About 25 percent of the households that took part in the pilot study had never composted before and Kahler says the experience for most part was positive.

To kick off the new townwide program the Selectboard authorized the purchase of about 650 containers.

Residents can buy the containers if they need them, and the town subsidized some of the cost with money that is expected to be saved on tipping fees by the reduction in heavy household waste.

The town is also selling kitchen scrap buckets with compostable bags.

The bags are available in a number of area hardware and food stores.

Kahler and employees with Triple T Trucking, the company that runs the pickup service, have spoken to different groups around New England about Brattleboro's curbside experiment.

Vermont's new solid waste and recycling law is going to require municipalities across the state to provide recycling and household waste options to cut down on the amount of garbage going into the landfills.

Kahler says there is going to be interest in how the town does as it rolls out the new system.

"Vermont communities are starting to look at this and there is a lot of interest in what we are doing," he said. "People are going to be watching how we do here."

Residents can sign up for the new service anytime they want.

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Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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