Solid Waste Disposal - Critical Decisions

The Town is facing difficult decisions on how to proceed with solid waste disposal in the future.



History:



The state purchased the Johnston land that became the landfill in 1980. Most solid waste from RI communities goes to the Johnston landfill.
The landfill is expected to reach capacity by 2027.
  
2006 – During a Town financial meeting, it was decided that financing of solid waste disposal (i.e., operation and maintenance of the Transfer Station and disposal of the waste at the state landfill) would be accounted for in an ”Enterprise Fund” where those citizens that desired to use the Town Transfer Station would pay for the service via vehicle “stickers” sold by the Town.  Town taxes would not be used to fund the account.

Town of Portsmouth Solid Waste Operations:



Play our slide show and watch our public television solid waste video!

What costs and fees are involved?


entfund

Solid waste disposal operations are managed in an Enterprise Fund.

  • Tipping Fee - The landfill charges a "tipping fee" for each ton of solid waste deposited there.
  • Hauling Fee - There is a cost, usually per ton, to haul each truckload of waste to the landfill.
  • Operation and Maintenance Costs - Operation and maintenance of the Transfer Station is done by both a "contractor" and by the Town.
    • Contractor - The Town offers a competitive solicitation and selects a private contractor to operate the Transfer Station. This includes some routine maintenance and may include the cost to haul the trash to the landfill.
    • Town - Major maintenance (e.g., building upgrades, paving, etc.) and some other operational costs (e.g., power, security cameras, etc.) are borne by the Town.
What about recyclables?

Separating recyclable materials reduces the amount of regular trash that is sent to the landfill.

  • "Mixed" Recyclables - Recently, the Transfer Station allowed mixing paper products and containers (e.g., bottles and cans) into a "single stream," meaning that all these items can be mixed in one bin.
  • "Diversion Materials" - To limit the amount of solid waste that goes into the Transfer Station trash bins (to be hauled to the landfill) and be subject to “tipping fees,” the Town has special bins to dispose of material that may have some other value.  This includes items such as clothing, mattresses, appliances, yard waste and metals. These items are disposed of in a variety of ways such as sales to scrap metal facilities, donation to charitable organizations, etc.
Recycle Incentives:

  • Meeting Recycling Goals - The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) provides incentives for meeting mixed recycling goals.  Currently, they provide the following:
    • $1 per ton tip fee rebate for meeting a 25% recycle percentage
    • $2 per ton tip fee rebate for meeting a 30% recycle percentage
    • $3 per ton tip fee rebate for meeting a 35% recycle percentage
  • Sales Shares - RIRRC will provide the Town a percentage of the profits from recycle sales.
What are the options?

With solid waste cost going up, critical decisions need to be made in the future.

solidwastecosts

RIRRC has announced that tipping fees will go from $32 to $39.50 in July 2017 to $47 in July 2018. That is a 54% increase over the next two years.

Also, due to increasing hauling costs, the cost to get the trash to the landfill will go up.
 
We have extended the current operator contract for the transfer station to December 31, 2017, but we expect that the cost of a new contract will increase 60% or more.








What can we do?


There are four options under consideration:

  • Status Quo - Keep the Transfer Station as it is now
  • Pay As You Throw at the Transfer Station
  • Town Contracted Curbside Pickup
  • Pay As You Throw Curbside Pickup
What happens if we maintain the "status quo"?

  • Tipping costs will go up 54% in the next two years.
  • Operation and hauling costs will go up.
To make the Enterprise Fund solvent:

  • Sticker fees will go up.
  • Estimates run as high as $300 per year.
What happens with Pay As You Throw at the Transfer Station?

  • Keeps the Transfer Station as it is now.
  • Requires the use of a Pay As You Throw (PAYT) method.
  • Citizens purchase special PAYT bags (or special bag stickers, which may save administrative costs).
  • Mixed recyclables (paper and plastic containers) would be free to dispose of.
  • Allows citizens to control costs by better recycling and better filling of PAYT bags.
  • Good recyclers benefit.
  • Those with less trash benefit - less bags used = less cost.
2018 cost estimate:

  • The cost of a Transfer Station sticker is expected to be significantly less than the "status quo," about $100 per year less.
  • Purchased 33 gallon PAYT bags would be REQUIRED for non-recycle trash at about $2 each (or Town may opt for bag stickers that would cost consumers the same amount but may save the Town administrative costs).
  • Separated mixed recyclables free.
  • Diversion bins (metal, donation bins, etc.) would still be available.
According to the Town of Middletown's PAYT program:

  • 50% use 1 bag per week
  • 22% use 2 bags per week
  • 6.5% use 3 bags or more per week
  • 11% use less than 1 bag per week
What happens with Town Contracted Curbside Pickup?

  • Town would contract with a private trash operator for household trash and recyclables curbside pickup.
  • Curbside pickup for trash and recyclables with Transfer Station ONLY for diversion items (metal, donation bins, etc.).
  • Participation would be optional, but cost would be reduced by a large number of households being offered to a single contractor.
  • No special bags would be required.
  • Placing mixed recyclables at the curb would be required.
2018 cost estimate:

  • Cost per participating household is expected to be significantly less than each household contracting with their own contractor (projected fee is expected to be about $300 per year).
  • The Transfer Station would remain open for bulk and diversion items only by specially-purchased per item stickers or optional Transfer Station sticker.
  • Transfer Station sticker fee would be expected to be significantly reduced to a nominal charge of about $25 per year.
What happens with Pay As You Throw Curbside Pickup?

  • Town would contract with a private trash operator for household trash and recyclables curbside pickup.
  • PAYT curbside pickup for trash and recyclables with Transfer Station ONLY for diversion items (metal, donation bins, etc.).
  • Purchased 33 gallon PAYT bags would be REQUIRED for non-recycle trash at about $2 each (or Town may opt for bag stickers that would cost consumers the same amount but may save the Town administrative costs).
  • Participation would be optional, but cost would be reduced by a large number of households being offered to a single contractor.
2018 cost estimate:

  • Purchased 33 gallon PAYT bags would be REQUIRED for non-recycle trash at about $2 each (or Town may opt for bag stickers that would cost consumers the same amount but may save the Town administrative costs).
  • Separated mixed recyclables free picked up curbside.
  • The Transfer Station would remain open for bulk and diversion items only by specially-purchased per item stickers or optional Transfer Station sticker.
  • Transfer Station sticker fee would be expected to be significantly reduced to a nominal charge of about $25 per year.
A Final Potential Option:

Although we don't expect to completely do away with Town solid waste disposal in the near term, it is a long-term option that must be considered.  There is a long-range (> 5 years) option for consideration by the Town to eventually get out of the trash business altogether and have each household arrange for trash disposal on their own.
 
This would eliminate any Town involvement or citizen taxes in operating any solid waste program or facility.
 
The State would most probably maintain some bulk waste and Eco-Depot program for hazardous materials.

The cost of this option is, obviously, unknown.

How Can You Help?


Be better recyclers!


 2016 Recycling Percentages  
 Middletown 39%
 Tiverton 31%
 Newport 31%
 Portsmouth 21%

Get informed.

Questions or comments?  Contact our Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator:

Ray Antaya: phone:  401-643-0359
email:   rantaya@portsmouthri.com

Complete our solid waste survey:



Have your voice heard! Go online to: www.SurveyMonkey.com/r/SolidWaste2017 OR fill our a survey manually!  Download a survey OR pick one up at the Town Hall or Portsmouth Free Public Library then deposit in the survey boxes located at Town Hall or the Library or mail it to:

Town Clerk
2200 East Main Road
Portsmouth, RI  02871