City to Move Forward with Earlier Trash Schedule Despite Neighborhood Opposition

Despite an outpouring of opposition to the new initiative from the neighborhood, Chris Osgood, the city’s chief of streets, transportation and sanitation, told those in attendance at a June 19 Town Hall meeting at 74 Joy St. sponsored by the Beacon Hill Civic Association that trash and recycling pick-up times would begin at 6 a.m. – one hour earlier than the usual 7 a.m. time – beginning July 1, citywide.

“Everyone in this room has the same goal, which is a clean neighborhood that they can be proud of,” Osgood said. “This conversation is long overdue, but it’s not the only one we’re going to have on this, even though [the new pick-up time] goes into effect July 1.”

The new pickup schedule is reportedly among the terms of the five-year, $28 million contract that the city recently awarded to East Boston-based Capitol Waste Services to handle waste and recyclable collection citywide.

“Over the last few years, it’s taken longer to pick up trash and it has stayed out longer…so that it has become an obstruction during the daytime hours,” Osgood said. “If we start sooner and can clean up before the evening commute, we think it will reduce congestion. It will also allow us to get to main thoroughfares earlier, including Cambridge Street.”

The city previously implemented a short-term pilot program to collect trash at 6 a.m. citywide, Osgood added, and it resulted no additional calls for “missed garbage pickups.”

Osgood said since discarded food and yard waste currently account for “roughly one-third” of trash, the city would soon issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for its collection, thereby reducing the amount of overall waste.

Also, over the next six to eight weeks, the city would launch a pilot program in the South End offering “collapsible and sealed containers” to residents, Osgood said.

Rob Whitney, president of the Civic Association’s board of directors, voiced his strong opposition against the new trash and recycling schedule, especially since he said the group had only learned of it around 10 days prior to the meeting.

“For many years, the Civic Association has encouraged people to put out there trash on the day of collection…but the earlier 6 a.m. pickup time will lead to many more people putting out trash the night before, which will only lead to more rats,” Whitney said. “Forcing people to put out the trash before 6 a.m. effectively requires them to put it out the night before…and there’s a connection between leaving trash out overnight and increased rats – it’s a real thing.”

Whitney said the schedule change would also result in noise pollution from garbage trucks in direct violation of the city’s own ordinances, which mandate that sound mustn’t exceed 50 decibels (dB) between the hours between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., even though 80 dB is standard for most garbage trucks.

The Civic Association also recently conducted a survey asking Hill residents if they supported the city’s decision to move trash and recycling collection pickup times to 6 a.m. from the current 7 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and the results indicated that more than 86 percent of the 147 respondents were opposed to the idea while 11 percent supported it and 3 percent said they didn’t know.

                “People do much better putting it out in the morning…and it makes a huge difference in not having rats run over my feet,” said one neighborhood resident who declined to give her name. “I’m opposed to the 6 a.m. pickup time, but 7 a.m. is just fine.”

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