Next step for Merrimack trash

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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby ggkrupp » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:24 am

RBarnes wrote:There was a public hearing 2+ years ago about the tipping fees which I attended. The town basically said that when you factor in labor costs, transportation costs and the tipping fees the town costs we would actually lose money if the haulers used our station at the current tipping rates. If we lowered the rates even lower you would be subsidizing their businesses with your local property taxes.

And if the town's tipping rate goes up in 2012 as expected it's going to be even more expensive per ton.

We save money by having local haulers NOT use the station.


Isn't part of the reason for the big jump in tipping fees due to our lack of volume? Seems like I read a post in another thread that we had low tipping fees based on a negotiated rate that expected a certain volume (that we never came close to because the local haulers never used the TS).

RBarnes wrote:
There is a video the town put up on YouTube just prior to the PAYT vote where they took a sample of a random bag from the transfer station floor and opened it and divided it out between real trash and recyclables. In the video the bag started around 10 pounds. When all the recyclables were removed it was down to around 2 pounds of actual trash.

Granted that's just 1 bag so it's far from being a scientific study but if one bag is 80% recyclable then would saying 50% total trash is recyclable really be that unreasonable to believe? The video was posted on this forum as well.


"Far from scientific" is being generous ... that piece had a PAYT agenda associated with it
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby RBarnes » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:57 am

ggkrupp wrote:Isn't part of the reason for the big jump in tipping fees due to our lack of volume? Seems like I read a post in another thread that we had low tipping fees based on a negotiated rate that expected a certain volume (that we never came close to because the local haulers never used the TS).


That's correct. But the root problem is a middleman will always have to charge at least slightly more then the final stop in the chain. I'll see if I can find the minutes from the public hearing about the tipping fee and post a link here. As it came up in the meeting, for us to get our tipping fee low enough to get the haulers to come here we'd have to lower them below what it costs us to handle the trash and that was at the lower rate that accounted for their volume.

ggkrupp wrote:"Far from scientific" is being generous ... that piece had a PAYT agenda associated with it


Far enough, but I for one learned something watching it. There was a lot of trash they pointed out as being recyclable that I never realized was.

Prior to watching it I had roughly a 2 to 1 ratio of trash to recycled materials, since I found out some of the things I tossed out could be recycled I've manged to get to a 1 to 1 ratio where I'm now recycling about the same level per week as I toss into the trash.

I would personally like to see John's suggestion considered and see an independent group of volunteers take this study. I for one would be willing to volunteer to be part of the study. My suggestion would be pick anywhere from 10 to 100 random cars taken different days of the week. Weigh how much trash and recycled materials they have before looking through it. Then look through their trash and see how much more could be recycled. I'd also recommend having them toss their trash onto a tarp vs picking bags the way the town did because anyone who used the station would know not all trash is in bags. There is construction and wood and also bags that split open or even just loose trash that people have in cans they tip over the edge. A good study would take all of that into account.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby Fitzie » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:12 pm

John Harrahy wrote:Let me try the short version of what I typed and lost before.

1. The consensus of posters on this thread is that the TS isn't working out, that a different solution is needed.

2. The voters disagree with that. 3/4 of voters want the TS as it is. This same question keeps getting asked different ways year in and year out, and the answer is always the same - the voters want the TS, and they're willing to pay for it. It's not the cheapest solution (as others continually point out) but it's the compromise between convenience and cost that the voters want.

3. I believe that if another study is done showing a different model should be adopted it will get voted down again. By now everybody should have gotten the message - the voters want their TS. They like being able to take unlimited amounts of trash in unlimited sizes and shapes and being able to tip it over the edge and forget about it.

4. In place of all Tony's options, I propose another one. See if we can give local trash haulers a deal on tipping fees so they'll tip at our TS instead of out of town. I proposed this before and somebody said that's already been looked into, we'd have to offer less than we pay ourselves ($63.95/ton plus transportation) to get anyone to come.

If they really pay less than we do, why don't we look into taking our trash the same place they do? If it turns out that's wrong, that they really pay more, then maybe we can make a deal with them after all.

5. To be able to decide what's really best, we need real data. I agree with Gary Krupp, that we need to know how many tons of trash the TS actually gets per month, how much we actually pay to dispose of that trash, how many tons of recyclables does the RC take in per month, and how much do we actually get paid for it? And I'd like to add two more - how many people actually use the TS per month? How many use the RC per month? It seems we have to ask the TC to direct the TS/RC management to collect this data. Is this as simple as going to the next TC meeting, asking them to have this data collected, published and graphed for trends? If so, let's do it!

6. People say (again with no supporting data) that a lot of the trash the TS handles really includes a lot of recyclables. The Town's PAYT presentation assumed 50% of what's tipped as trash now is actually recyclable. To find out, we'd have to actually examine enough of the trash to get a significant sample size. The findings would then be broken down by weight per ton of trash by each type of recyclable item as well as by how much was actually not recyclable. This data needs to get published and graphed for trends. Based on this data, a town-wide education campaign should be mounted, telling everyone how much recyclable stuff gets trashed now, and how much money the Town could save by increasing recyling/reducing trash by a particular percentace. The savings should be stated in terms of cents on the tax rate, so everyone will appreciate it.

The TS personnel couldn't be asked to do the examination - it would have to be done by TC-sanctioned volunteers. If the TC agrees to get the other data collected, then they can be asked to allow trash examination. I'd volunteer to do some of that examination, and I'm sure others would too. And I'd be willing to work with others to develop a workable plan to get it done.


I disagree with some of the major assumptions (especially that the people want their TS) but all in all a very well thought out piece John.

The challenge is only one of communication. I believe voters will act in their own self-interest at the polls much the same way they do in the remainder of their lives......can you reach the majority not receiving primary services from the TS and more importantly...are they interested or paying attention?

If you provide the average person with the following 2 options:

A stick in the eye for $5
A foot rub for $4

......they will choose the foot rub and desire that the sight-challenged eye-pokers assume full responsibility for their $5 invoice.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby ggkrupp » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:21 pm

RBarnes wrote:I would personally like to see John's suggestion considered and see an independent group of volunteers take this study. I for one would be willing to volunteer to be part of the study. My suggestion would be pick anywhere from 10 to 100 random cars taken different days of the week. Weigh how much trash and recycled materials they have before looking through it. Then look through their trash and see how much more could be recycled. I'd also recommend having them toss their trash onto a tarp vs picking bags the way the town did because anyone who used the station would know not all trash is in bags. There is construction and wood and also bags that split open or even just loose trash that people have in cans they tip over the edge. A good study would take all of that into account.


I agree ... I would participate also

I would further recommend we place 2 vehicle counters in the facility (air hose type) for long term usage statistics. One should be placed across the drive entrance just before the TS office in order to capture all traffic entering the facility (but not the traffic exiting) and place the second one across the paved drive leading up to the recycling center in order to capture all of the recyclers that both go into or alongside the recycling facility. Even if the town doesn't already own the counters, they could be purchased for $1,000-$1,500 a piece. Leave them there for a year or more and religiously record the counts daily at the open an close of the facility.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby RBarnes » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:47 pm

ggkrupp wrote:I would further recommend we place 2 vehicle counters in the facility (air hose type) for long term usage statistics. One should be placed across the drive entrance just before the TS office in order to capture all traffic entering the facility (but not the traffic exiting) and place the second one across the paved drive leading up to the recycling center in order to capture all of the recyclers that both go into or alongside the recycling facility. Even if the town doesn't already own the counters, they could be purchased for $1,000-$1,500 a piece. Leave them there for a year or more and religiously record the counts daily at the open an close of the facility.


I agree but let me play devils advocate here...

The library has had counters showing how many people use the library. When the counts are discussed the argument back is that people make multiple trips to the library per week or even per day so the numbers are inflated higher then the true user count. Someone may borrow a DVD Monday and return it Tuesday so you didn't truly have 2 different people using the library that week, just one person using it twice or someone in the library could get a phone call, step outside and go back in creating a count of two when it was really just 1 person.

The same holds true, although I would think not as much, for the transfer station. I know I'm not your typical user since I'm only a half mile away but when I've done major spring cleaning or done a construction project there have been Saturdays when I've taken as many as 7 trips in a single day (some of the politically active people signs can attest to seeing me pass again and again). You also have people, myself included, who have made quick trips on their way to work during the week to get rid of smelly trash then made a 2nd trip in the same week for a large haul.

Oh which reminds me, there are people who use it just to dump yard waste and not actual trash, again I've made several trips in a single day. If you are going to suggest they count recycling vs trash as separate counts you may also want to account for people just hauling yard waste too.

This is similar to the problem with using the number of stickers given out to get a true count of people using the facility although I would think it would be far more accurate because I'm sure people living in the middle to southern end of town wouldn't be as inclined to make multiple trips per day were I think it is fairly common for homes to have 2 or more stickers.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby ggkrupp » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:01 pm

Doesn't matter Rick ... I'm not trying to count households using the TS ... just want to see how much activity the TS as a whole is seeing and how much the recycling center is seeing ... the other metrics I've suggested (trash tonnage, recycling tonnage, & costs/revenue) and this activity count would speak more to the efficiency of the facility and what types of solutions should be explored to improve service to the town.

I would just use the sticker count bounced against a name or address to determine number of users if that needed to be determined (although I don't think it is).
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:34 pm

Fitzie wrote:
John Harrahy wrote:Let me try the short version of what I typed and lost before.

1. The consensus of posters on this thread is that the TS isn't working out, that a different solution is needed.

2. The voters disagree with that. 3/4 of voters want the TS as it is. This same question keeps getting asked different ways year in and year out, and the answer is always the same - the voters want the TS, and they're willing to pay for it. It's not the cheapest solution (as others continually point out) but it's the compromise between convenience and cost that the voters want.

3. I believe that if another study is done showing a different model should be adopted it will get voted down again. By now everybody should have gotten the message - the voters want their TS. They like being able to take unlimited amounts of trash in unlimited sizes and shapes and being able to tip it over the edge and forget about it.

4. In place of all Tony's options, I propose another one. See if we can give local trash haulers a deal on tipping fees so they'll tip at our TS instead of out of town. I proposed this before and somebody said that's already been looked into, we'd have to offer less than we pay ourselves ($63.95/ton plus transportation) to get anyone to come.

If they really pay less than we do, why don't we look into taking our trash the same place they do? If it turns out that's wrong, that they really pay more, then maybe we can make a deal with them after all.

5. To be able to decide what's really best, we need real data. I agree with Gary Krupp, that we need to know how many tons of trash the TS actually gets per month, how much we actually pay to dispose of that trash, how many tons of recyclables does the RC take in per month, and how much do we actually get paid for it? And I'd like to add two more - how many people actually use the TS per month? How many use the RC per month? It seems we have to ask the TC to direct the TS/RC management to collect this data. Is this as simple as going to the next TC meeting, asking them to have this data collected, published and graphed for trends? If so, let's do it!

6. People say (again with no supporting data) that a lot of the trash the TS handles really includes a lot of recyclables. The Town's PAYT presentation assumed 50% of what's tipped as trash now is actually recyclable. To find out, we'd have to actually examine enough of the trash to get a significant sample size. The findings would then be broken down by weight per ton of trash by each type of recyclable item as well as by how much was actually not recyclable. This data needs to get published and graphed for trends. Based on this data, a town-wide education campaign should be mounted, telling everyone how much recyclable stuff gets trashed now, and how much money the Town could save by increasing recyling/reducing trash by a particular percentace. The savings should be stated in terms of cents on the tax rate, so everyone will appreciate it.

The TS personnel couldn't be asked to do the examination - it would have to be done by TC-sanctioned volunteers. If the TC agrees to get the other data collected, then they can be asked to allow trash examination. I'd volunteer to do some of that examination, and I'm sure others would too. And I'd be willing to work with others to develop a workable plan to get it done.


I disagree with some of the major assumptions (especially that the people want their TS) but all in all a very well thought out piece John.

The challenge is only one of communication. I believe voters will act in their own self-interest at the polls much the same way they do in the remainder of their lives......can you reach the majority not receiving primary services from the TS and more importantly...are they interested or paying attention?

If you provide the average person with the following 2 options:

A stick in the eye for $5
A foot rub for $4

......they will choose the foot rub and desire that the sight-challenged eye-pokers assume full responsibility for their $5 invoice.



Fitzie

I think a more appropriate choice for your example is:

A kick in the shin for $5
Vs
A stomp on the instep for $4

Neither option is particularly pleasant.
:lol:
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby ggkrupp » Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:51 am

I noticed this morning that there is now a vehicle counter at the TS with the hose spanning the entrance/exit. Not sure if this is a coincidence given the conversation in this thread but it is interesting. I wonder who asked for it to be placed there and what are they hoping to collect at that location? As I said previously, I would use two counters and be sure that only entering traffic at the TS & Recycling center were counted.

Still, I am encouraged to see that someone has decided to start collecting data. :D
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby Fitzie » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:24 am

TonyRichardson wrote:
Fitzie wrote:
John Harrahy wrote:Let me try the short version of what I typed and lost before.

1. The consensus of posters on this thread is that the TS isn't working out, that a different solution is needed.

2. The voters disagree with that. 3/4 of voters want the TS as it is. This same question keeps getting asked different ways year in and year out, and the answer is always the same - the voters want the TS, and they're willing to pay for it. It's not the cheapest solution (as others continually point out) but it's the compromise between convenience and cost that the voters want.

3. I believe that if another study is done showing a different model should be adopted it will get voted down again. By now everybody should have gotten the message - the voters want their TS. They like being able to take unlimited amounts of trash in unlimited sizes and shapes and being able to tip it over the edge and forget about it.

4. In place of all Tony's options, I propose another one. See if we can give local trash haulers a deal on tipping fees so they'll tip at our TS instead of out of town. I proposed this before and somebody said that's already been looked into, we'd have to offer less than we pay ourselves ($63.95/ton plus transportation) to get anyone to come.

If they really pay less than we do, why don't we look into taking our trash the same place they do? If it turns out that's wrong, that they really pay more, then maybe we can make a deal with them after all.

5. To be able to decide what's really best, we need real data. I agree with Gary Krupp, that we need to know how many tons of trash the TS actually gets per month, how much we actually pay to dispose of that trash, how many tons of recyclables does the RC take in per month, and how much do we actually get paid for it? And I'd like to add two more - how many people actually use the TS per month? How many use the RC per month? It seems we have to ask the TC to direct the TS/RC management to collect this data. Is this as simple as going to the next TC meeting, asking them to have this data collected, published and graphed for trends? If so, let's do it!

6. People say (again with no supporting data) that a lot of the trash the TS handles really includes a lot of recyclables. The Town's PAYT presentation assumed 50% of what's tipped as trash now is actually recyclable. To find out, we'd have to actually examine enough of the trash to get a significant sample size. The findings would then be broken down by weight per ton of trash by each type of recyclable item as well as by how much was actually not recyclable. This data needs to get published and graphed for trends. Based on this data, a town-wide education campaign should be mounted, telling everyone how much recyclable stuff gets trashed now, and how much money the Town could save by increasing recyling/reducing trash by a particular percentace. The savings should be stated in terms of cents on the tax rate, so everyone will appreciate it.

The TS personnel couldn't be asked to do the examination - it would have to be done by TC-sanctioned volunteers. If the TC agrees to get the other data collected, then they can be asked to allow trash examination. I'd volunteer to do some of that examination, and I'm sure others would too. And I'd be willing to work with others to develop a workable plan to get it done.


I disagree with some of the major assumptions (especially that the people want their TS) but all in all a very well thought out piece John.

The challenge is only one of communication. I believe voters will act in their own self-interest at the polls much the same way they do in the remainder of their lives......can you reach the majority not receiving primary services from the TS and more importantly...are they interested or paying attention?

If you provide the average person with the following 2 options:

A stick in the eye for $5
A foot rub for $4

......they will choose the foot rub and desire that the sight-challenged eye-pokers assume full responsibility for their $5 invoice.



Fitzie

I think a more appropriate choice for your example is:

A kick in the shin for $5
Vs
A stomp on the instep for $4

Neither option is particularly pleasant.
:lol:


Tony,

To me having someone pickup one's trash every week and NOT having to pay for someone else's more expensive/less used option is ALL good rather than "not as bad"....hence the "foot rub" analogy. :D
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:32 am

Fitzie,

Only problem is we would still be paying for them, it won't be self funding, hence my comparison.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby tastyratz » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:44 am

So what about this:
Why don't we look at curbside recycling pickup? perhaps monthly or bimonthly in designated trash containers. People could cut down on their regular waste and also get the convenience they need. Part of the reason recycling is not adopted is the hassle. If people had a barrel that was picked up and designated for single stream recyclables they would probably use it quite a bit and cut down on the private trash collection they pay out of pocket.

What about the station for Amherst right off 101? Have we looked at entering a partnership with them? Perhaps we could expand our recycling efforts and provide curbside recycling in exchange for utilization of their transfer station?

I for one would love to recycle, but as a consumer I have no way to practically and conveniently do so. In the end if I choose for pickup privately its much more money, and if I decide to drop it off I would have to make regular visits to the transfer station on my gas/time/etc. I currently do not recycle but would happily do so if curbside was available.


If the transfer station was isolated to recycling... how much does our recycling effort cost us vs the goods sold? Are we anywhere near net positive is it only partially losing... what?


And just what on earth makes the transfer station costs so high? It is essentially a pit... What is the bulk of the cost?
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:57 pm

tastyratz wrote:So what about this:
Why don't we look at curbside recycling pickup? perhaps monthly or bimonthly in designated trash containers. People could cut down on their regular waste and also get the convenience they need. Part of the reason recycling is not adopted is the hassle. If people had a barrel that was picked up and designated for single stream recyclables they would probably use it quite a bit and cut down on the private trash collection they pay out of pocket.

What about the station for Amherst right off 101? Have we looked at entering a partnership with them? Perhaps we could expand our recycling efforts and provide curbside recycling in exchange for utilization of their transfer station?

I for one would love to recycle, but as a consumer I have no way to practically and conveniently do so. In the end if I choose for pickup privately its much more money, and if I decide to drop it off I would have to make regular visits to the transfer station on my gas/time/etc. I currently do not recycle but would happily do so if curbside was available.



If the transfer station was isolated to recycling... how much does our recycling effort cost us vs the goods sold? Are we anywhere near net positive is it only partially losing... what?


And just what on earth makes the transfer station costs so high? It is essentially a pit... What is the bulk of the cost?


Major Costs:
1. Staffing and all the costs that entails

2. Equipment and fuel

3. Tipping fees at final destination

Nowhere near net positive and will not become so with current volumes.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby tastyratz » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:09 pm

ok I was thinking more actual numbers.

I was not in town when the transfer station was implemented. If we *DO* keep it open have we looked at hiring an outside company/auditor to investigate our process and see if there is room for improvement through change? Maybe we can make a few positions more efficient and eliminate roles, or semi automate some processes and hire lower pay operators in simpler roles. We might be small but we can look at larger stations and their statistics vs budget to see how we measure up or if they are doing things better.
I still think partnerships with surrounding towns could very well be where it is at. Let's get volume up or relocate services to somewhere that has it.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:23 pm

tastyratz wrote:ok I was thinking more actual numbers.

I was not in town when the transfer station was implemented. If we *DO* keep it open have we looked at hiring an outside company/auditor to investigate our process and see if there is room for improvement through change? Maybe we can make a few positions more efficient and eliminate roles, or semi automate some processes and hire lower pay operators in simpler roles. We might be small but we can look at larger stations and their statistics vs budget to see how we measure up or if they are doing things better.
I still think partnerships with surrounding towns could very well be where it is at. Let's get volume up or relocate services to somewhere that has it.


Good luck getting hard numbers on any of this other than possibly the checks coming back from whomever buys the recyclables.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby ggkrupp » Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:42 pm

I agree with Tony ... good luck trying to get some hard numbers! Far from hiring a consultant, we can't even get our solid waste department to collect data on what it does (which would be virtually free) to inform decision-making :?
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