Getting SMART

As reported last week, Harvard’s Select Board has voted to move ahead with its version of a Save Money and Reduce Trash (SMART) program, commonly referred to as pay-per-bag. It’s an approach that has been adopted by more than half the municipalities in Massachusetts, designed to increase the amount of material the town recycles and reduce the amount of trash the town must pay to have hauled away each week from the Transfer Station. Towns that have enacted a SMART program have reported decreases in trash of 30 to 50 percent.

To continue using Harvard’s Transfer Station, residents will need to purchase an $80 sticker before July 1, along with a supply of 15- or 30-gallon trash bags. To help readers learn how to recycle more, the Press has published a recycle tip each week since March and will continue doing so in collaboration with the Transfer Station Committee.

There are risks for the town in adopting this program. Some residents may decide it’s cheaper and more convenient to pay for a private waste collection service. The current sticker program contributes as much as $300,000 to Harvard’s non-tax revenue, and officials worry that a dip in sticker fee collections could throw the budget out of whack. But costs at the Transfer Station have been rising dramatically, and the current program is unsustainable. Now’s the time to try something new.

There is plenty of information about SMART and how to make it work for your household at the Transfer Station Committee’s website: www.harvard.ma.us/transfer-station-committee. Meantime, a big thank you to committee members Tom Philippou, Libby Levison, Tim Kilhart, Stu Sklar, and Rich Maiore for their months of hard work to make the program a reality.

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