Solid Waste Disposal Is Looming Problem for Town

The problem of municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal surfaced at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Board of Selectman. 

The state produces some 800,000 tons more MSW each year than it can process. The excess tonnage is shipped at considerable expense to landfills in the Midwest. Organic wastes, which contain water, are heavier than other solid wastes and increase a community’s tipping fees. Riiska said Norfolk is now paying $131 a ton to dispose of MSW, not quite double its former cost. 

Of concern to regional towns is persuading people to separate organic waste from their garbage. Many towns are now promoting food scrap programs to reduce the tonnage going into MSW processing plants. The separated organic wastes are composted rather than being incinerated or deposited in landfills.

“The COG is talking about pay-to-throw [where individuals pay to dispose of each bag of trash],” Riiska reported. “The whole idea is to get people to be more conservative about what they throw out.”

He said that if people shop mindfully, they can choose products with less packaging. “This is something we need to talk about,” he told the selectmen. “We produce 740 pounds of waste per person, per year—which is a lot. It’s all about education, about getting people to really recycle.”

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