Westport Transfer Station is a recycling machine

Posted 11/14/19

Welcome to Westport Health Notes, a monthly column from the Westport Board of Health (BOH). The goal is to share information with our community about local issues and projects, public health alerts, …

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Westport Transfer Station is a recycling machine

Posted

Welcome to Westport Health Notes, a monthly column from the Westport Board of Health (BOH). The goal is to share information with our community about local issues and projects, public health alerts, and even fun facts about the A to Z scope of responsibility that local Boards of Health manage.

We at the Westport Board of Health (BOH) administer the Town’s Transfer Station (aka “the dump”) at 72 Hixbridge Road. As users know, there is an annual sticker fee of $35 per car ($20 if over age 65). Once paid, we accept general trash for $4 per 33-gallon bag, while paper, plastics, metals and glass recycling are free. We also have donation bins for clean, usable clothing. Yard waste, including leaves, weeds, grass clipping and pine needles (no stumps or brush) can also be brought in for composting. There is a fee for disposal of other objects, such as tires, furniture, carpets, mattresses, TVs and monitors. You can check out all the details on the Town website: https://www.westport-ma.com/transfer-station.
The recycling operation at our Transfer Station is relatively sophisticated in that it recycles “source- separated” trash. As a result, there are different bins for five kinds of plastics and three kinds of fiber/paper products, as well as glass and metals. If in doubt about where something should go, just ask Fred, Tim or Anthony. The staff are always there to help. The other method familiar to those who contract for private curbside pickup is called “single stream”, as all recycling goes into one bin that must be further separated. We believe the “source separated” approach produces better economics.
One surprise, to me at least, is that our general trash also gets repurposed. The transfer station collects about 1,000 tons per year of general trash, which we take to New Bedford Waste Services and are charged a tipping fee of $74/ton. What I have learned in recent years is that New Bedford Waste, after some processing, sends our waste to Covanta’s SEMASS waste-to-energy facility in West Wareham. There the trash is burned in the 84-MW facility to generate steam and electricity. So even our general trash gets converted to a new use!
Many of you reading this article have heard about the disruption in recycling markets resulting from China no longer accepting American plastic waste. This has led to a glut of plastics and lower prices. We now receive no payment for most plastics and actually must pay 10 cents/lb. to recycle rigid plastic.
Other recycling pricing trends are also negative. On the paper side, we must now pay $70/ton and $15/ton to recycle mixed paper and cardboard, respectively. While we still get paid for metal and newspaper, the metal trend is down. Mid-City Scrap, which takes all of our recycling (except glass), has historically sent us checks for our recyclables. However, in the face of these adverse pricing trends, these checks are shrinking and at some point we may start receiving invoices rather than checks. This is not good because the Transfer Station’s budget, run separately from the BOH budget, has no provision for such an expense. The Transfer Station’s budget for FY 2020 is $278,141; virtually all of it is covered by user fees and the BOH is working to keep it that way.
The Westport Transfer Station is open five days per week from Thursday through Monday from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. It is closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and holidays. Please note our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend schedule, which is the same every year: closed on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, but open normal hours on Saturday and Sunday.
 — Submitted by Maurice E. May, board member

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