This week, Princeton Council heard a presentation on a new town-wide, cart-based, pick-up program for landfill waste and organics. The proposal, which is for residents, aims to reduce fees paid at landfills while lowering the town’s carbon footprint. Consultant Wayne DeFeo, who has been advising the municipality on trash and recycling issues, spoke, as did Sustainable Princeton’s executive director Christine Symington. DeFeo said the proposed five-year waste removal program would not replace the current system of every-other-week recycling pickup. But the weekly collection of trash would be more efficient. Residents would be issued a 64-gallon standardized can, or 32-gallon if requested. These standardized containers can be picked up mechanically, allowing for automated or semi-automated collections and lower labor costs.
Thanks to the increased volume of residential trash because of the pandemic, and a shrinking labor pool, costs for waste pickup have soared in recent years. “More volume at the curb means more people are needed to pick it up, more trucks, and higher costs,” DeFeo said. “Labor is a nightmare in the solid waste industry right now.”
In New Jersey, costs have risen to about 40 to 150 percent higher than what they were, DeFeo added. “In a recent bid in Atlantic City, they were thrilled to only receive a 45 percent increase,” he said. “They took measures to contain the increase in price, and that’s what is being suggested here.”