With the closing of landfills across the state, the president of Westboro-based E.L. Harvey and Sons is spending an extra $1,500 per load to ship the refuse to places like Virginia and Ohio. Landfills, he said, are becoming scarce and the state’s seven incinerators that burn trash are at capacity and often closed for maintenance.
Massachusetts is running out of places to put trash and the situation will put upward pressure on prices as the cost of disposal rises for contractors. “In certain circumstances, the lack of a local disposal option may drive increased costs as there is an added expense to move material to disposal sites out of the region,” trash processor Waste Management said in a statement.
Michele Bernier, director of waste disposal and recycling for North Attleboro, said she is about to go out for bids for a new contract with a waste processing firm and she is concerned about the price. “I’m worried right now,” she said. “I think we’re paying about $80 a ton and I have a strong feeling that is a real conservative number.”
She said the problem is there is no “capacity” for taking trash, with landfills closing and incinerators maxed out. But the message has not yet filtered down to some cities and towns. Some local officials say they have contracts with their waste disposal companies and have not been approached about higher cost — at least yet.
They said the problem they have been dealing with the past few years has more to do with recycling, which Waste Management also said is a problem. The Chinese firms that buy recyclable materials have gotten strict on what they will accept, and charge a penalty if there is too much non-recyclable material in the loads they process.
Local officials have made educational efforts to inform homeowners what can go into the recycling stream and what cannot. Plastic bags are a major problem because they are not recyclable. Other items officials want to keep out of the stream include shredded paper, greasy pizza boxes, holiday gift wrapping and plastic cups.
Bernier recently told other North Attleboro officials that the cost to the town for recycling has increased from $40 a ton to $73. Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux has been using social media to encourage homeowners to be more careful about what they throw into the recycling bin. “I say, ‘If in doubt, leave it out,’” he said.