TOWNSEND -- Starting July 1, the limit on the number of trash bags that will be picked up from the curbside will be reduced to three. Each bag can be up to 33 gallons.
"We're hoping to reduce tonnage by a good amount," said Carla Walter, health board administrator. "Shaw's is not going to pick up more than three bags. There will be no exceptions."
"If they see there's recycling in the trash, they're not going to pick that up either," she said.
In recent years, the number of allowed bags has decreased from a high of six. Town officials are attempting to reduce costs from tipping fees for waste by picking up less rubbish, 1.5 tons a week less, and encouraging recycling.
"The tonnage in the last few years has not gone down enough. We need to improve that," said Walter. "The bag limit is going to be a huge thing. My phone is going to be ringing off the hook."
Recycling is mandatory in town, but some residents do not use the free service, she said. A recent $5,000 grant for a municipal recycling enforcement coordinator from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, matched with $1,250 in town funds, will help the town reach the goal of reducing tipping costs up to $20,000 a year.
The coordinator will work 2.5 hours each week, traveling the rubbish pickup routes to see which residences are recycling and which are not. The position will last 72 weeks.
The grant is not intended to fine people, but to educate them, Walter said. The first violation; too many bags, recycling in the trash or no recycling at all, the residents will receive a letter.
The second offense will earn the home a notice stuck to the door. For the third offense, a $100 fine for every trash bag over the limit or containing recycling will be issued. No fines will be issued until February 2014, giving townspeople time to become used to the new regulations.
In an effort to make enforcement easier, the Board of Health has been trying to get trash and recycling totes for each household, but the cost is high, Walter said.
One 64-gallon tote for each home would end up costing about $200,000 for the entire town. A second barrel, for single-stream recycling, would be another $200,000.
The money saved by reducing the tonnage could be applied to purchasing the containers. Walter is also applying for a $35,000 grant for recycling totes. Even with these funds, if the town were to purchase the bins outright, it would take approval from the Board of Selectmen and town meeting, Walter said.
The current trash hauler, G.W. Shaw and Son, made a proposal in November. If the town extended their contract by five years, the company would purchase the needed totes. The current trash contract expires in June 2014. A town appropriation would not be required if the totes were purchased through the trash hauler contract.
The contract will be going out to bid later in the year, Walter said.
The Board of Health will discuss refinements to the bag limits June 24 during its 6:30 p.m. meeting in Memorial Hall.
A public meeting on updating the smoking regulations will be held July 15 at 6:30 p.m.