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Costs increase for Northampton residents using municipal trash disposal

Image of garbage can and recycling can for story about the cost of using Northampton, Mass., transfer station for garbage disposal and recycling
Ser Amantio di Nicolao
CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Northampton, Massachusetts, residents who bring their household garbage, compost and recycling to the city's municipal transfer station will now pay 66% more per year for a permit. The city recently raised the annual permit price from $45 to $75.

The increase is largely because of changes in the recycling industry, said Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra, adding that Northampton is not alone.

"We were actually receiving revenue for recyclables that we took in, and now we have to pay to dispose of them," Sciarra said. "So that's a real switch in sort of the revenue and expenditures of the transfer station and the solid waste enterprise."

The problem is not new and Sciarra said recycling costs for the city continue to rise. For years Northampton's solid waste disposal was mostly self-sustaining up she said, up until recently.

Northampton residents have several options for household waste. About one-third of the city's 12,000 households use the municipal transfer station. Others use private waste disposal companies, including one that is human-powered, Pedal People.

"Usually there's only one source, Sciarra said, " either it's private or municipal. So that also, impacts revenue."

Even with the increase Sciarra pointed out that Northampton's annual trash and recycling permit fee remains less than surrounding communities.

In nearby Hadley, Mass., with a population of about 5,000, permits are $125. In Amherst, Mass., a town of 40,000, the permit is the same price.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."

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