Brattleboro to reduce curbside garbage collection

Andre Smith, a sanitation worker for Triple T Trucking Inc., picks up a new pay-as-you-throw garbage bag during the program's first week in June 2015.

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BRATTLEBORO >> The pay-as-you-throw garbage collection system the town started in July 2015 has been much more successful than predicted. And because of that, the town is going to switch to collection every other week, rather than every week, as it now stands.

Community members reduced the amount of trash that Triple T picks up by more than half, from 1,030 tons to 472 tons monthly. By switching to every-other-week pickup, the town hopes to save approximately $100,000.

"It's going to start in July," said Selectboard member David Schoales. "The system seems to be working pretty smoothly but we'll have six more months of experience before this starts."

Garbage, recycling and compost is currently being picked up every week, and the change approved Tuesday night will only affect the frequency of garbage collection.

An educational campaign like the one used when implementing the pay-as-you-throw curb-side program will be introduced in the spring, Town Manager Peter Elwell told the board. Schedules will be published so households are aware.

Elwell assured board members the town could go back to a weekly garbage collection if the change did not work out. But there would be no guarantee the cost would stay the same.

"It wouldn't necessarily be throwing the switch on then turning the switch off," he said. "There would be other implications."

His "reassurance" for reducing garbage pickup was the behavior and participation of residents in the current program. And due to composting efforts, he does not see odor or rotting food to be an issue

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"Between July through November 2014 and then July through November 2015, we've reduced the average tonnage of garbage that goes to the dump from an average of 1,030 tons to 472 tons monthly," said Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein. "The behavior we're seeing is quite frankly one of the things I'm most proud of in the five years I've been on the Selectboard."

Brattleboro's contract with trash hauler Triple T Trucking will be amended and extended by five years to a total of eight years.

The town also could choose to switch over to a single-stream process for its recyclables, according to the contract which requires reasonable negotiations before this would occur.

"We hope that isn't necessary," said Elwell. "But we thought it would be useful in protecting the town's interest."

Having recycled items hauled to a facility in Rutland for single-stream processing was an option being explored before the Windham Solid Waste Management District Board of Supervisors approved of creating of a committee in December to look at moving to a fee-for-service revenue model.

The district's current formula is based on population and it sees Brattleboro paying for recycling bins. Since the town already pays for curbside pickup for recyclables, Selectboard members feel the town should not have to pay for both.

Contact Chris Mays at or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.