Alderman Sammy Slade has been checking out his neighbors’ trash.
Carrboro has been encouraging its residents to use recycling services provided by the Orange County government. Now the town is going look at what they’re throwing away and how they’re paying for waste removal.
“I’ve done this survey, walking my dog and looking through people’s trash cans,” Slade told his fellow aldermen Tuesday night. He suggested the town evaluate the prospects for alternating weekly between picking up household trash and organic material, among other options.
The town has allocated $50,000 to hire a consultant to go through the trash collected, weigh it and categorize it and report back. After looking at everyone’s output, the consultant will also ask for public input using surveys and public forums.
It’s called a “Residential Waste Characterization Study,” and it will sort out residential trash after it arrives at a Durham transfer station, where Orange County’s trash has been hauled since the county landfill closed. The town will soon publish a request for proposals, asking to hear from consultants how they would do the study.
According to Orange County records, Carrboro collects more than 6,000 tons of trash annually. Next year, the town will spend nearly $1 million on trash collection. It’s one of the major services provided by public works staff.
That’s split about evenly between the cost of operating the equipment and paying the personnel. Last year, the town spent $268,800 on a new trash truck.
Residents currently roll 95-gallon containers curbside for weekly pickup.
The study will look to find ways to separate organic material from household trash in order to dispose of it separately, keeping it out of the waste stream. It will also review the truck routes used, recommending more efficient routes to minimize truck hours and will determine the cost per household and per ton collected.
The study will look to find ways to separate organic material from household trash in order to dispose of it separately, keeping it out of the waste stream.
Since Orange County has provided curbside recycling pickup bi-weekly, the town’s waste stream has decreased enough so that at less frequent trash pick-up is also on the menu. Driving trash trucks weekly to pick up half-empty containers is inefficient, though in hot weather there are other consequences for not doing so.
Carrboro residents pay the highest property tax rate in the county, so following the money is an important element of the study. The town is considering moving to a “pay-as-you-throw” model as an incentive for residents to reduce how much household trash they generate. If you waste less, you pay less.
Alderwoman Jacquie Gist said she wants any plan to be very clear that the town isn’t “double-dipping” if such a model is adopted.
”I’m paying for trash removal now,” she said. “If we go to pay-as-you-throw and I get a bill for what I’m throwing, will you then reduce the amount that’s being taken on my tax bill for solid waste?”
“Yes,” Town Manager David Andrews said.