Waste Not!

We don’t often reprint information from a newsletter.

But Sustainable Westport‘s recent email contained so much valuable information, it needs as broad an audience as possible.

So do not waste any time. Here’s everything you need to know about Westport waste.

What happens when trash leaves your house?

Private haulers across Westport (there are 8 options) collect trash and deliver it to the transfer station. Some collect trash and recycling on alternate days; others collect both on the same day into trucks with separate compartments for each.

Alternately, Westport residents can bring their own trash to the transfer station for dumping, free of charge, during operating hours.

At the transfer station, the truck’s contents are dumped into a pit by the haulers (or manually thrown into the pit by residents). The pit contains a hydraulic ram that compacts the trash into a closed trailer.

Westport’s transfer station does not look like a dump.

When the trailer is full, it is pulled away from the compactor and a new empty trailer is put in its place. Trailers are then driven to WIN-Wheelabrator, our regional waste-to-energy plant in Bridgeport, where the contents are tipped and weighed before incineration.

All of the haulers servicing Westport pay an annual licensing fee to the town, based on the number of trucks in their fleet and their respective cubic yard capacity. All other waste management costs are included in the Town of Westport budget, which is funded by taxpayers.

Those costs include 3 primary components: management of the Westport transfer station; hauling trash to Wheelebrator, and tip fees for disposal (incineration services) at Wheelebrator.

Westport is part of a 12 town consortium, the Greater Bridgeport Regional Solid Waste Committee, that negotiates collectively with Wheelabrator to provide competitive pricing.

In 2021, Westport fees to Wheelebrator for transportation and tipping were $16-$17 per ton and $65.75 per ton respectively. That is far less costly, both in fuel and CO2 emissions, than trucking the trash out of state to landfills, and it avoids dumping Connecticut trash on other communities.

Single stream recycling

However, these costs still translated to approximately $1.5 million to the town and taxpayers. (That does not even account for recycling, other contract services or management of the transfer station.) 2022’s current waste expenditures are 13% higher than last year.

Connecticut’s waste-to-energy infrastructure is increasingly under strain. When the costs to manage waste rise, as a taxpayer you can expect to carry the burden.

The Environmental Protection Agency strongly encourages the “Pay as you Throw” method. Households are charged based on the amount of trash they generate (by either volume or weight), rather than a fixed fee or property tax.

PAYT shifts responsibility onto individual households. treating trash like electricity, water or other utilities where there is a variable rate depending on the extent of service utilized.

In Connecticut, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection promotes a PAYT program called SMART (“Save Money and Reduce Trash”). Residents are charged based on unit pricing of waste collected weekly (per gallon, based on the bag sizes sold and distributed by the town). Other than that, the system of collection remains the same.

According to DEEP, communities that implement SMART have reduced waste by 40 – 55%. This translates to an average savings of 200-300 pounds per person per year, plus significant municipal savings in transportation and tipping (incineration).

Residents can help by reducing, reusing, recycling and diverting food waste.

Be thoughtful in your purchasing. Favor reusable over disposable (even if it requires a bit more money or personal energy). Repair broken items instead of tossing them away.

Fortunately, Westport has programs in place to support efforts to reduce overall waste:

  • Separate glass from other recycling; deposit at the transfer station
  • Redeem cans and bottles at participating facilities
  • Join the Zero Food Waste Challenge
  • Click here to learn about other items that can be individually recycled.

(“06880” frequently covers environmental issues — and everything else in town. Please click here to support your local blog.)

8 responses to “Waste Not!

  1. Norwalk holds two bottle drives every month. the first Sat. of the month is at Brian McMahon high school, the second Sat of the month at Norwalk high school. Both can and bottle drives support the schools marching bands.. They are 9-1, and take all deposit cans and bottles. A good cause to donate to!

  2. I remember the last time there was a posting about the town’s garbage, I foolishly made a comment that a respected condo complex, which is a gated community, on the Post Road, was once the town dump for 100 years. Hands down, I won’t make that mistake again.

  3. A drawback to the PAYT plan, is that many folks tend to toss a good deal of trash(the big stuff) in the woods, by the road, and in fields, rather than pay to toss it.

  4. Absent the availability of some rigorous, published studies, I would tend to question the idea that the PAYT program yields a material reduction in household waste. Per Mr. Katz’s comment, some portion of said waste might likely be redirected – to use a word. As it happens, the town of Westport illegally dumps stuff it doesn’t want in our parks. In the now infamous case of Barons South, internal government emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act indicated that the motivation for dumping the massive load of arsenic laced fill in a public park was the avoidance of disposal fees. That’s an extreme example of bad behavior, of course. But those who have lived here for a bit know there are more than a few privately owned parcels around town where you better not dig.

  5. Would love you to write about a service that helps our environment and eliminates a lot of trash. I use Curbside Compost. I know you can compost your own food sources but this is so easy and very affordable. A one time a year cost (around $450) – every week all of my food items, flowers, bones, meats etc go into a bin and is picked up on Thursdays. It is turned into compost and eventually snail and given to community gardens or is sold. I keep a small bin on my countertop and then empty it into their bin (just like I do with garbage) daily. I love this service and feel like I’m doing my part for the environment.

  6. Thank you, Mr. Boyd, for mentioning the unmentionable. How easily we forget/ignore bad behavior when it benefits us (albeit only in the short term).

  7. Michael Calise

    So let me see…………..If i pick up roadside debris or debris in public places as i occasionally do, I would have to pay to dump it.