Trash Changes Begin This Month

J.D. O’Gara
Issue Date: 
July, 2019
Article Body: 

“It’s been 20 years since we’ve solicited competitive proposals from vendors,” says Holliston Town Administrator Jeff Ritter. Holliston Selectmen appointed a Holliston Sustainable Waste Management and Recycling Committee to come up with a Request for Proposals regarding providers of municipal solid waste and recycling.
“It wasn’t a simple procedure,” says Ritter. “Michael Lavin, was the chair, and the committee came up with a long, 100-page RFP with the assistance of a grant from the Mass. DEP (Department of Environmental Protection). We received probably five or six responses from vendors, and those responses were reviewed and analyzed by the committee, who came up with the recommendation of E.L. Harvey based on cost, service reputation, all kinds of criteria.”
At the Annual Town Meeting this spring, the Town approved the change and appropriated funds to buy new carts, and a contract was signed in June with E.L. Harvey.
Each Holliston household will receive two carts – one 35-gallon cart for trash or solid waste, and another 65-gallon cart for recycling.
A lot of thought, and frustration, went into the size of the carts, says Ritter.
“The state DEP indicated to us if we use the 35-gallon solid waste container, we would we eligible for funding from the state, probably in the vicinity of $200K.”
The 35-gallon cart “is really no change from what was in place previously,” says Ritter. “It’s just that it’s gotten very, very lax. Residents were supposed to be using 35-gallon trash bins, but over the years, there hasn’t been much enforcement at all, and people have been putting out larger trash containers. This is sort of a course correction.”
The idea the state has, says Ritter, is to encourage residents to recycle, and to make that recycling cleaner.
“Really the subtle message is, before you throw something in the trash, think about it, and make sure it can be recycled. We’re trying to educate people as best as we can. I think you’re going to find the community is probably cleaner because all recycling in the cart that has a cover. It won’t be blowing all over the place,” says Ritter.
For those who have more than the 35-gallon amount, $2 stickers are available to put on extra bags.
As for recycling, single stream recycling means that plastics, glass and paper can be put into one cart, without having to separate, but not everything is recyclable. In a recent episode of “Just Thinking,” on Holliston Cable Access Television, Mary Greendale tackled the topic, interviewing Ritter and Lavin. She cited an NPR report on what’s happening worldwide with recycling and plastic policies. (
For tips on what can and cannot be recycled, you can visit, or look at the accompanying graphic. If you have a question on a particular item, there’s a handy recycling encyclopedia, complete with photos, which will tell you whether an item can be recycled. Styrofoam meat trays and take-out containers, for example, cannot be recycled, nor can any containers that still have food or liquid in or on them. Cereal boxes can be recycled, but not frozen food boxes that have a coating. Check this site, . also, to find out what items might be compostable. Holliston offers compost bins for residents for $20.
Weekly pick-up days for solid waste and recycling should remain the same, and carts should by curbside by 7 a.m., although some Tuesday pickup times are changing. See the accompanying graphic or the town website if you have Tuesday pickup to see if your street is among them.
Because this is an automated pick-up (the truck uses an arm to grab the barrel), placement is key. Both carts should be placed at the curb with the front of the cart FACING THE STREET. The back of the cart (with wheels) should be facing away from the street. Please give ample room between carts (3 feet) to allow the truck room to grab the cart.
Residents who have large items to be picked up may call E.L. Harvey at (800) 321-3002 to schedule a bulk pick-up. E.L. Harvey’s website is
“This is going to be a massive multi-year educational program,” says Ritter. “The smarter we are about recycling, the better we are about the environment.”