One of the Town departments residents heavily rely on is the Department of Public Works, which, among many other jobs, manages our Winter Street Recycling Center. Some changes were made in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, but many have not. The hours of operation are still Saturdays, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. for disposal of leaves, brush, and cardboard. However, no other items will be accepted until further notice.
If you have textiles to recycle, you can drop them off at the drop-off boxes located at all of the schools in Town and at the Savage Center at 275 Prospect St. If the school boxes are full, you are asked not to leave your bags on the ground and not to put the items into the regular trash. The simple recycling (pink bags) service for collecting textiles will be resurrected at some point in the future.
Free compost is available at the Recycling Center which is a boon for gardeners getting ready to enrich their soil for the season. This compost is made from the leaf and grass donations made by residents each season. Last year, Norwood implemented a Residential Food Scrap Program to help keep food scraps out of regular trash and support our overall recycling objectives.
According to the DPW, trash and recycling collection and disposal costs are determined by the amount of weight we put into our respective carts each week. “Each year, Norwood residents throw away over 1,100 tons of food scraps into the trash costing taxpayers over $200,000. Every year!!” That’s a lot of waste every year when the money can be better spent on schools, roads, and other necessary programs.
For years, the DPW has sold composting bins to residents who want to make their own compost at home. Thanks to a grant from the Mass Department of Environmental Protection, we can purchase these bins at a discount. (The DPW also sells countertop food scrap containers.) Many residents have been hesitant to put food scraps in with their leaves and grass clippings because they are concerned about attracting animals to their property. In an open compost pile, this can be a problem; however, the composting bins can be closed and secured so animals cannot access what’s inside. The Town asks that if you make your own compost but do not currently add scraps in the process that you consider doing so.
Many residents do not have the room at home to make their own compost. Recognizing this, the DPW came up with a solution. They decided to provide residential food scrap drop-off sites at two locations: the DPW yard at 1 Lyman Pl., – open daily, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and the Winter Street Compost Facility, Saturdays from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Both locations have signs listing what is acceptable and unacceptable.
Most people know that fruits, vegetables, eggshells, nutshells, coffee grounds, filters, teabags, and tea leaves are acceptable compost materials. But the Town is able to recycle more! Bread, pasta and grains would not make the list for most home composters nor would a cut-up, greasy pizza box or food-soiled paper towels, because home compost piles don’t heat up sufficiently to decompose these within a reasonable time period and the aromas might entice hungry wildlife. But they are acceptable to the Town, as are cut up paper egg cartons and shredded paper.
Meat and dairy products, baby wipes, diapers, sanitary products, pet waste, cat litter, milk or juice cartons, plastic, and glass are all unacceptable.
If you are willing to save your scraps but prefer not to drop them off, there’s another option for you. Residential curbside pickups. You can contract with Black Earth Compost to make saving scraps even easier! If you choose this option, you will receive a 13-gallon curbside bin from Black Earth for your scraps. The company will also provide an extensive list of what’s compostable and they come by once a week and empty your bin. For more information about this option, visit https://blackearthcompost.com/residential-curbside-compost-pickup/
Sustainability has become an important issue for our Town. Residents are concerned about how we can save money and retain the important services that the Town provides. They are also concerned about environmental issues and how to mitigate some of the problems humans have caused. Saving food scraps rather than putting them in the trash might not seem like much, but if Norwood residents throw away 1,100 tons of food scraps in the trash each year, it seems this is a painless way to help.
Aside from social distancing and wearing masks, it is difficult to individually address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but saving food scraps to save money and help the environment is something tangible everyone can all do to help make a difference.