Princeton Looks At Sustainability With Proposed Waste Disposal Program
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SARA SALVADORE / PATCH STAFF
PRINCETON, NJ — In a bid to further reduce its carbon footprint, Princeton is planning to make changes to its solid and bulk waste program. These changes would include a fully automated waste collection system and a municipality-wide implementation of the organic waste program.
At Monday’s council meeting, Deputy Administrator and Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton, led a presentation on these proposed changes, along with Wayne DeFeo of DeFeo Associates and Christine Symington of Sustainable Princeton.
In the past few years, the municipality has seen an increase in residential waste volume, as more people stayed home during the pandemic. This resulted in an increase in fees by 18 percent and solid waste volume in Princeton went up by 1000 tons, Stockton said.
The municipality got DeFeo to look at Princeton’s solid waste program and make recommendations ahead of putting out bid solicitation.
DeFeo said that COVID-19 and supply chain shortage has resulted in an increase of up to 40 percent in bids awarded this year. The cost of labor increased, and certified drivers are now demanding higher wages to take the job.
Since solid waste jobs are labor-intensive, there is a high rate of injury among workers who are demanding higher wages. Worker wages have gone up from $15 to $20, and drivers are now demanding $30, DeFeo said.
The cost of equipment has also increased, as have fuel costs. All these factors have led to disruption in services not just in Princeton, but across many municipalities in the country.
DeFeo looked at ways to revise what the municipality does by controlling the waste costs and at the same time trying to reduce waste going to landfills.
He suggested resuming the organic waste recycling program throughout the municipality and introducing an automated waste disposal system.
All this would lead to a lower carbon footprint.
DeFeo suggested the municipality provide residents with a 66–95-gallon solid waste cart and a 22-gallon organic waste cart.
These carts will be customized to have educational lettering built right into them. The carts will be paid for through the bidding process. The contractor will lease them to the town and at the end of a 5-year bid, the municipality would own the carts.
Although it will add to the initial costs of the contract, the carts will provide the municipality with savings potential.
DeFeo said a fully automated collection system in Princeton would be efficient, neat, and would reduce animal problems, litter issues and worker injuries.
With the exception of a bulk truck going around, all the municipality needs are drivers.
DeFeo also suggested a reservation system for bulk waste pick up because not all residents have something out on those days, and the trucks drive around town looking for bulk waste, driving up costs.
Symington said the time was right for the municipality to expand its organic waste collection program from 700 voluntary households to all homes. This would not raise costs as the charges would be the same as the Municipality is currently paying for 700 homes.
In June, Princeton expects to put together a bid specification and put out the ads. Request for the organic disposable contract will be made in June as well.
The municipality does not need to start a new service until Feb 2023, but is starting the process early due to supply chain disruptions and manufacturing delays.
Councilwoman Eve Niedergang said she was excited to have the organic waste disposable program available to everyone and is glad Princeton has the time to reach out and educate people on the changes.
“I really like it. I really like the idea of uniformity and cleanness, and love the idea of bringing composting back,” said Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros.
Councilwoman Leticia Fraga said she liked the new proposal but expects initial confusion among residents. Fraga said educational outreach was important, especially in multiple languages so everyone in the community understands how the program will work.
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