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Malden may offer alternative to pay-as-you-throw

Posted by Jarret Bencks  April 3, 2013 08:59 AM

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Malden's pay-as-you-throw waste disposal policy likely won't be trashed, but there may soon be an alternative.

A committee appointed by Mayor Gary Christenson has submitted a proposal that would allow residents to pay the city an annual fee -- proposed at $100 -- for a 33-gallon trash barrel -- or purchase multiple barrels -- as an alternative to buying the blue trash bags that have been used since pay-as-you-throw was instituted in 2008.

The bags are sold at several local stores in three sizes:  a box of 10 33-gallon bags for $20;  a box of 10 15-gallon bags for $10; or a box of five 8-gallon bags for $2.50.

"We want it to be fair and equitable, and we want to give people choice," said Paula Spizziri, a member of the committee.

The committee also reviewed the city's recycling practices and recommended to continue with a two-stream recycling program, but to do away with city-issued 18-gallon, lidless containers that cost residents $5. The committee proposed residents purchase their own lidded recycling containers that can be any size and would be identified by a free, city-issued recycling sticker.

The committee's recommendations were outlined in a report made public on Tuesday. Christenson said a pilot program could begin in Ward 1 as soon as June, but he wanted to give the public an opportunity to weigh in, and also receive approval from the City Council.

"We would want to have the support of the City Council to move forward," he said.

Christenson wouldn't outline when he expected a pilot program to be presented to the council, or whether the proposal from the committee would be adjusted before then.

The current pay-as-you-throw system has cut waste hauling costs in the city, but has drawn the frustration of many residents who have complained about stores being sold out of bags, the bags being flimsy, and not wanting to pay for their trash disposal on a per diem basis.

The committee, made up of citizens from all city wards, weighed heavily on a web survey taken late last year that received over 1,700 responses.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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