November 23, 2022

Collection Contract Approved For Solid and Bulk Waste But Not Yet for Organics

By Anne Levin

At its November 14 meeting, Princeton Council voted to approve a resolution authorizing a contract for solid waste and bulk waste collection, which goes into effect in the new year. But they held off on the bid for picking up organic waste, agreeing instead to look into less costly options.

Princeton’s Engineer and Deputy Administrator Deanna Stockton told Council that the town’s current provider, Interstate Waste Services, was the only company to respond to the staff’s request for proposal, or RFP. For organic waste, they proposed a system priced at about $1.1 million a year.

“That was too much,” Councilwoman Mia Sacks wrote in an email the day after the meeting. “So we’re looking into things like micro-haulers or community drop-off locations, and advocating for changes to state legislation that will make food waste disposal process more affordable and accessible to municipalities.”

Staff, members of Sustainable Princeton, and a liaison from the Princeton Environmental Commission worked with DeFeo Associates, which had previously reviewed the town’s leaf and brush collection, to come up with an option for solid and bulk waste. The goals, Stockton told Council, were controlling costs, which escalated during COVID-19; expanding the service to include organics; and reducing carbon emissions.

The sole bid came on October 19. Staff’s recommendation was to have solid and bulk waste collection only, with carts supplied by the contractor. Bulk waste is defined as trash too large to fit inside a cart, such as mattresses, desks, chairs, sofas, or other furniture. Residents can make reservations for bulk pick up on the town’s website, by email, or by phone. The link to make a reservation will go live on the website by February 1.

The service was approved for a five-year period. Residences will get a new, 64-gallon cart, equipped with a chip linking the cart to a specific address. Those who wish to get rid of their existing carts can do so during the first weeks of the new program. Residents who want an extra 64-gallon cart can get one, but at an annual fee that is still to be determined.

“This allows for more automated service in Princeton,” said Stockton.

“By using carts, we can also lessen personnel needs. It also results in fewer causes for workmen’s compensation claims.”

Stockton and Land Use Engineer Jim Purcell stressed that the idea of a composting program has not been abandoned, and the town is committed to having one in place as soon as possible. “There are some roadblocks in the way,” said Councilwoman Eve Niedergang. “But there are good ideas being proposed, and hopefully we will get there.”