January 18, 2023

New Trash Carts to Be Delivered Soon

By Anne Levin

With new 64-gallon carts scheduled to be delivered to Princeton residents over the next few weeks in preparation for the town’s revamped trash collection program, homeowners have the choice of tossing their old containers or holding on to them for other uses. Sustainability advocates and municipal staff are hoping people opt for the latter.

Turning the old carts into composters, rain barrels, or containers to store leaves for compost are a few of the suggestions on offer. “We know this is not going to work for every person. But we want to extend the useful life of whatever bins or carts people have,” said Christine Symington, executive director of Sustainable Princeton. “Part of the waste reduction hierarchy is that you want to reuse things. Our team, in coordination with [municipal engineer] Deanna Stockton, has come up with a bunch of different ideas.”

The goal was to find creative options that are not overly complicated. “There are several things you can do,” said Symington. “And we’re planning on holding some workshops in the spring, and perhaps later in the year, where folks can bring their old containers in and we can help facilitate turning them into other uses.”

The new trash collection system is scheduled to begin February 1. Bulk waste will no longer be collected with regular trash after that date. Pickup of bulk items will be on Wednesdays, by reservation (email wasteinfo@princetonnj.gov). Collection of organics is still being explored.

The new carts, which save labor by the use of robotic arms, are being assembled on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary, and will be delivered to residents by the hauler. Each cart is equipped with a chip linking it to a specific address. Residents who feel they need more than one cart can order one, which may require a fee. Those who want a smaller receptacle can request a 32-gallon model, and swaps will be done in March.

In addition to the suggestions for converting old carts into composters, rain barrels, and storage containers for leaves, a link on the municipal website from Waste Free Edmonton advocates using the carts to store empty beverage containers, keep firewood dry and accessible, provide additional storage in a garage or garden shed, create a cat shelter, blend soil, and even grow produce, among other possibilities.

Those residents who opt to get rid of their old receptacles instead of reusing them can label them as “trash,” and they will be picked up starting Monday, February 13. Due to the high cost of dissembling their wheels, the carts will not be recycled, Princeton’s Assistant Municipal Engineer Jim Purcell told Princeton Council at a meeting last week. “Unfortunately, sending them to a landfill appears to be the most efficient way of disposing them,” he said.

Municipal staff members say the new trash collection system will be more efficient and save the town money.

“In the Climate Action Plan, the town is to come up with a more efficient, cost-effective way of managing the waste stream,” Symington said. “This has so many benefits. For one thing, it will help reduce litter, because the new carts have lids — the old ones do not. The system should encourage folks to find alternatives for what they are putting in the trash. It sets the stage for, hopefully, a curbside organics collection. And it gives an opportunity for folks to understand the importance of recycling overall.”