Almost two months into the pay-as-you-throw trash pilot program, the Town of New Windsor is beginning to see success.
The program, known as the Fair Trash Reduction (FuTuRe) program, began in November with the first trash pickup on Nov. 6. The pilot is scheduled to last 34 weeks, with the last trash pick-up occurring June 24, 2019.
In the first full months, the town saw a 44 percent decrease in solid waste, as well as a recycling rate that nearly doubled, from 21 percent to 38 percent, according to a news release from the town. According to the town website, New Windsor is seeing a participation rate of about 98 to 99 percent.
Overall, New Windsor Mayor Neal Roop said, the pilot program is a success so far. But, he said, they will have to continue to monitor the program through the end of June to see how it fared.
“The fact that [the town] saw a 44 percent decrease in solid waste — even the people that weren’t for it have to say it’s a success,” he said.
While many residents brought up concern at multiple town meetings before the pilot was implemented about the possibility of illegal dumping increasing, Roop said there has not been any issue with people illegally dumping trash.
Tim Brown, spokesman for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, said via email that the Sheriff’s Office has not received an uptick in trash dumping in or around New Windsor.
There have been some people who haven’t put their trash in the correct bags, though, he said. In the first week, Roop said, there was some leniency, but now, if someone does not put their trash in the correct bag, it does not get picked up.
Kristen Brown, the vice president of waste reduction strategy with WasteZero, the company the pilot is through, said the 44 percent decrease is very typical.
Brown said after this information, and the details that continue to come out of the pilot, the question to commissioners will be if they want to extend it countywide, or make it an option, or do some form of the program. But, she said, the first phase was to demonstrate that this program could work in Carroll.
“From that perspective, we’ve definitely demonstrated that,” she added.
Brown said based on the trash weight being collected, each home, on average, is throwing out just under one large bag each week.
And while Brown said there have been some people who don’t like the pilot program, most, once they do it, are fine.
“What we find is places that do this are happy with it,” she said, later adding, “Once people get used to it, they don’t care. It’s just the change to people that seems scary.”
The pilot program came after months of discussions between the county and the town. There were heated exchanges between both the commissioners and town leaders, as well as town leaders and New Windsor residents before the program finally went into place.
The main goal is to reduce the material being sent to the landfill in Carroll, Dusty Hilbert, chief of the county’s bureau of solid waste, previously said. According to the town news release, this type of program eliminates the tipping fee the town pays, which results in an annualized savings of over $30,000. The disposal fee is shifted to a bag fee, which gives residents control of their own trash costs, according to the release.
The small bags, which are 15 gallons, cost 65 cents each and the large bags, which are 33 gallons, cost $1.20 each. Both the small and large bags can also be bought in sleeves of five. Small bag sleeve costs $3.25 and large bag sleeve costs $6. Residents were given $35 gift cards to the local 7-Eleven to help cover those costs during the pilot.
Roop said a potential use for money likely to be saved through this type of program could go to lowering the tax rate one or two cents.
“That’ll be up for the council to decide,” he added.