The Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Committee was established on December 4th, 2000. The committee works with the Department of Public Works in developing a program for solid waste and recycling collection services through 2005. In 2004 the committee focused on two areas, education and cardboard recycling.
Early in 2004, the committee met with the Board of Selectmen and agreed to suspend further investigation into a Pay As You Throw program in Belmont. The committee’s research indicated that a PAYT program will not generate additional revenue for the Town, and should only be implemented based on its impact in reducing the amount of waste generated. The program is controversial in other Towns, and the committee agreed that implementing PAYT can be examined again if the Town is interested in an alternative way to pay for solid waste and recycling collection. The committee also recommended a fee for white goods and CRT collection which was approved by the selectmen and implemented by the Department of Public Works starting in July of 2004.
In the spring of 2004 the Beth El Temple Center hosted an environmental fair. The committee staffed a booth during the fair to provide information about composting, yard waste, recycling, solid waste disposal and hazardous waste. The committee collected used eye glasses to give to the Lion’s Club, and used toner cartridges and old cell phones that were recycled via a drop-off program at Staples. In addition, the committee accepted mercury thermometers and exchanged them for digital thermometers. The mercury swap was supported via a program from the Health Department. The committee also sold composting bins to the public at reduced cost based on an existing grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP).
In the fall of 2004 the committee participated in the town-wide environment fair held at Belmont High School. The committee staffed a table together with the Department of Public Works. At the environment fair the committee once again answered recycling and solid waste questions. The committee also collected toner cartridges and used cell phones and sold compost bins.
The committee continued discussions about starting a cardboard drop-off program in Belmont. A company called Save Our Stuff can provide compactors to the Town at little or no cost provided that a certain minimum amount of cardboard is collected. The committee discussed possible locations for a compactor including the Town yard and the High School.
Other work completed by the committee over the year includes the writing of a weekly recycling tips column in the Belmont Citizen’s Herald. The recycling tips that were written during the last few years were compiled and sent to the Department of Public Works where they were published on the Town’s website.
Finally the committee met with members of the Vision committee about possible approaches to improving the recycling program for Belmont businesses.
Ken Siskind, Chairman