Since the launch in early November of New Windsor’s Fair Trash Reduction pay-as-you-throw pilot program, the town has seen overall waste generation decrease by 26%, according to the county Department of Public Works. “It’s like a new utility. You pay for what you throw away,” Jeff Castonguay, director of the Carroll County Department of Public Works, said at the Board of County Commissioners’ Thursday meeting.
Since implementing the FuTuRe program, annual tonnage has decreased from over 240 tons to about 180 tons, according to the Department of Public Works. Households are trending toward saving $58 annually from tip fees and saving from not needing to purchase regular trash bags, according to the department.
The makeup of the waste stream in New Windsor has changed, too. Before the program, the waste stream was 81% curbside trash and 19% curbside recycling. Now that the pilot has been implemented, and residents pay for trash but do not pay for recycling, the stream is 64% curbside trash and 36% curbside recycling.
The program requires town residents to use specialized garbage bags to have their waste picked up. Residents can purchase small or large bags. The small bags, which hold 15 gallons, cost 65 cents each, and the large bags, which hold 33 gallons, cost $1.20 each. Recycling is free.
Both the small and large bags can also be bought in sleeves of five. A small bag sleeve costs $3.25, and a large bag sleeve costs $6. Residents were given $35 gift cards to the local 7-Eleven to help cover those costs during the pilot.
Processing less waste can be cheaper for jurisdictions. In New Windsor, for example, the tipping fee the town pays at the county landfill is eliminated and replaced with the bag fee, meaning town funds can be reallocated to other areas — or local taxes can be lowered.
Material not sent to landfills can, alternatively, be recycled, composted or incinerated to generate electricity. The biggest savings, Castonguay said, comes from space that is saved in the county landfill. “We don’t have any property to put [a new landfill on], or locations that would be willing to put up some space,” Castonguay said. “So that’s really where we see the most savings on this.” Two months into the program, the town saw a 44% reduction in solid waste and an increase in its recycling rate from 21% to 38%, with a near 100% participation rate.