Board of Health Submits Draft of Solid Waste Regulations

At the Sept. 7 council meeting, the Winthrop Board of Health (BOH) submitted a twelve-page draft of regulations that would govern how residents dispose of their solid waste.

The board drafted the regulations to coincide with the new annual trash fee of $160. They would only apply to households with three or fewer units.

The BOH called its draft “comprehensive but straightforward,” with information regarding recycling, composting and reducing solid waste tonnage. It is largely modeled on the legislation currently in place in Revere.

“Our draft gives citizens a better understanding of what we’re doing and why,” said BOH representative Bill Schmidt.

The current draft prohibits the public from scavenging or taking items from other households’ bins. Council members were concerned that the restriction could impact “scrappers”, who gather cans and bottles to be redeemed for money. Oftentimes, they are elderly residents seeking to supplement their income. Scrappers help the town to reduce its solid waste by removing recyclable items from the trash.

The regulations do not make specific provisions on dumpster diving, as there is already a town ordinance on such behavior.

The section on enforcement was left intentionally vague, stating that a system of warnings and fines would be issued for noncompliance. The Town will run its language by KP Law, and will also take its cues from other towns.

It is unclear who will be charged with enforcing the new regulations. Town Manager Terrence Delehanty suggested that the responsibility would likely be divided between multiple departments.

“It doesn’t hurt to have multiple people enforcing,” he said. “The town departments are already strapped, and we don’t want to put this on one person’s plate.”

A public outreach campaign will educate residents on how to dispose of its trash. This could include mailings, notices in the Transcript and special programming on WCAT.

“People will be informed about what they have to do to comply with the new process,” said Schmidt.

As with the plastic bag ban, residents will be given time to adapt to the new system, likely between one and three months.

The BOH would like to implement the new regulations as soon as possible. It proposed a potential start date of Jan. 1.

“The longer we wait, the more trash we’re collecting,” said another BOH representative. “My dream would be to start tomorrow, but I know the government doesn’t work that quickly.”

Once council approves a final draft, an education program would be launched and the new regulations would go into effect within a few months.

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